As a parent, do you struggle to help your children complete simple math assignments because you learned math differently in your childhood? Do you find yourself often times preferring to sound-out difficulty vocabulary words using phonics instead of consulting the ‘word list’? Have you ever wondered why the art of cursive writing is no longer taught to elementary aged school children? Can you follow all of the latest acronyms representing standards-based testing that are supposed to enhance the quality of your child’s educational experience? Where did the good-old fashioned GPA go? Are you frustrated with the reality that your child’s education is held hostage by the fact that teachers instruct primarily for the sake of preparing students to test well and not to live well?
At Mount Royal Academy, the resurgent interest in classical education has caught us off guard to some extent. We often ask interested families, “Why are you interested in sending your child to our school?” Thereason usually boils down to this: common sense is missing. In public schools, their children are immersed in an environment that ‘teaches only to the test’. A classical education, such as the one at Mount Royal, forms students to be well-rounded, independent, and perceptive thinkers, capable of supporting their own opinions with solid evidence from the knowledge they’ve acquired.
The beauty of a classical education is that it capitalizes on what we have always commonly known about child development, cultivating the natural curiosity and competencies of children/students at age-appropriate levels. It is a grave mistake to believe that all elementary aged children are abstract enough to learn the concepts of math before concrete math computation. Elementary students discover and retain information much differently than adolescents. You can see this simply by sitting down and having a conversation with one of them. The elementary aged child will ask, “How does seven multiplied by seven equal forty nine?” An adolescent will likely ask, “Why does seven multiplied by seven always equal forty-nine?”
Some might be surprised that the enrollment at Mount Royal has increased by over 100 students in the past five years. Have you ever experienced a moment in your life when you are listening to someone talk and then deep down, this instinctual feeling arises whereby you think to yourself, “that makes sense”? Classical education makes sense because it doesn’t over-complicate the educational experience or environment. We often say, “Let kids be kids”. Let them wonder. Let them discover. Let them be creative. Let them know the true, the good, and the beautiful. Why mess with a beautiful thing?
A classical education maintains a high standard: an unshakeable, unchangeable, and fixed standard. It is the standard of human excellence. We are all meant to be great. The greatest individuals are naturally attractive because of the virtue they demonstrate, the truths they communicate, and the love they illuminate. Teachers are therefore responsible for supporting all parents by pushing their children to rise to those standards.
So are we totally surprised that more families than ever before have decided to join our school community? Not really. We are humbled and we often find ourselves thinking, “How did this all happen? How did we add two new buildings in the past two years? Aren’t we experiencing the second worst economic recession in American history? How does our enrollment continue to grow by 20% every year since 2010?” With God, all things are possible. It is not entirely because of our own efforts. Rather, we strive to impart the truths about the human person that have always fostered human excellence, and we do so in a way that respects the integrity and undeniable dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. As sharers in God’s own nature, we are created to be excellent. Thus, education too should strive for excellence. Students and families at Mount Royal Academy know the truth and beauty of an academically excellent education.