The curriculum and pedagogy used at The Oaks Academy is a combination of the best principles drawn from the classical education model and from the writings of Charlotte Mason. Download our brief educational philosophy guide.
What is an Oaks Classical Education?
Classical education is an ancient, yet timeless approach to education that develops its students into fully-realized, whole persons who emulate the best qualities of humanity.
Whereas other forms of education teach students what it means to be a worker or a citizen, classical education allows students to discover what it means to be human. Students of the classics learn of humanity’s greatest achievements and gravest frailties, and students are encouraged to develop all facets of their humanity—their intellect, emotions, spirituality, morals, and relationships—and to grow in excellence in each of these areas.
The curriculum of classical education is organized around the chronological history of Western civilization. Importance is placed on the study of history, in combination with literature, art, music, and Latin, as these help place the historical record in context. Mathematics and the sciences are emphasized to complete students’ understanding of humanity and man’s place in the natural world. By learning timeless ideas in each of these subject areas, students are encouraged to grow in wisdom and maturity.
Who is Charlotte Mason?
Charlotte Mason was a British educator who wrote several books about the philosophy and methodology of education in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Though it was unusual in the Victorian era, Mason had high regard for children. She opposed child labor and supported universal education, believing it was the right of every child to receive an education and to play. Her ideas have influenced the pedagogy of The Oaks Academy in significant ways.
Charlotte Mason believed that children were full persons, capable not only of physical and intellectual development, but also moral, spiritual, emotional, and relational growth. In order to respect the full personhood of students while still helping them to grow into maturity, Mason urged teachers to train their students in habits. These moral and social habits were, she believed, the cornerstone of education and also provided a framework for a healthy, mutually respectful relationship between teacher and student. In keeping with these principles, The Oaks holds “The Personhood of the Child” as one of the core values, and facilitates a student’s growth into maturity by training in habits, rather than through “behavior management” techniques. Oaks students begin learning the habits in preschool, starting with the habits of Attention, Obedience, Respect, and Responsibility. In second grade, students begin to develop the habits of Reverence, Reflection, Thoroughness, adding the Habits of Service, Self-Control, and Integrity in middle school.
Because she believed students were full persons, Mason also held that children were capable of discovering truth by interacting directly with ideas and texts. A teacher’s role was not to instruct students or give them information, but instead to guide them in discovery. This was often done using a strategy called narration, in which students would pay careful attention to the text in order to share their observations and insights. Children learned history by reading primary sources rather than through textbooks, and learned about the natural world by spending time outdoors and observing nature firsthand. Charlotte Mason also provided her students with living books—great works of literature with a timeless message—and challenged them to reflect deeply on the meaning of passages and to develop skills of dictation and memorization. The Oaks Academy employs many of these same strategies to encourage students engage in the learning process.