Our Three-Tier Educational Philosophy
K-5th: 3 days at school - 2 days at home
6th-8th: 3 days at school - 2 day at home
This unique school model utilizes a partnership between parents and qualified professional instructors to provide quality, cost-effective education. The model recognizes that parents should be the primary providers of their child’s character and faith development. Our model offers parents more time for imparting the values they hold dear while still providing the benefits of an organized educational community. Practically, the school meets as a traditional school with a professional classroom teacher 3 days per week for our primary students, and 4 days per week for our middle school students, and students meet in the satellite classroom at home on the remaining days (with the parent co-teacher following the teacher's assignments). The Augustine Academy has dedicated classroom teachers, unlike some University Model schools that make use of an elective style schedule on class days.
Intentionally adhering to Charlotte Mason's Philosophy
It’s uncommon today to encounter an educational institution with a consistent philosophy of education. When asked about one, most school administrators will stare blankly or answer with a defense of their disciplinary model or their commitment to the use of technology in the classroom. While these are fine things to discuss about the operation of a school, they do not equal a consistent, guiding, educational philosophy that parents, teachers, administrators, staff, and students can understand and use as the guide to their learning experience. Most commonly, and often unwittingly, schools tacitly ascribe to the educational philosophies dominant in both our private and public school systems today— behaviorism (mastery of data/technique, "the factory-model," popularized by English philosopher John Locke) and progressivism (self-discovery/self-expression, rooted in thinking of Jean-Jacques Rousseau). Locke's theory limits man's learning to what is presented to him and can lead to an over-emphasis on measurement, and the working out of Rousseau's can create an education so intent on creating meaning that it overlooks the meaning innate in the universe itself. In both cases, student learning of what actually is is stunted.
While we at Augustine believe that knowledge can be measured empirically, and is at times done so for good use, we are convinced there is so much more to education than the creative restraint and joy-vacuum that too quickly follows when teachers are ruled by data sheets, test results, and blank-slate empiricism alone. We also believe, in contrast to behaviorism, that life has a transcendent creator, and therefore transcendent meaning, both waiting to be discovered. Children are full human persons created in the image of the multi-faceted, sovereign, God, and bring much to the table in their mind’s innate capacity for ideas before they even encounter their first piece of didactic instruction and well beyond their own self-expression.
Because of these convictions, the Augustine Academy pulls its dominant educational philosophy and pedagogy from the work of 19th century British education reformer Charlotte Mason. A contemporary of Maria Montessori and other educators forming foundational ideas during industrialization, Mason held a firm belief in the child as a person, not merely a mind to be filled. From that stemmed the conviction that children are capable of doing the work of learning themselves, and teachers best fill the role of guide and framer, not interpreter and entertainer. Mason believed that the best education encounters and engages the whole person with careful attention not only to the information they are mastering, but also to the formation of the person they are becoming. Her three-pronged approach to education includes attention to the child's educational atmosphere (primarily making it one of joy and ready discovery, not rote drudgery), the discipline of good habits (emphasizing full attention, best effort, and learning for the sake of learning, in addition to habits of personal virtue), and living ideas (meaning exposing children to content that makes a subject come alive, not just dry facts). Mason's motto for students was, "I am, I can, I ought, I will," and her hallmark is developing mature, whole persons, centered on rightly ordered relationships and fueled by a feast of excellent material. Ideas are paramount in the Charlotte Mason pedagogy, and each student is taught not what to think, but how to think. Nature study, dictation, study of original art and music all come alongside narration to form students with a rich love of learning, and thoughtful engagement in the world.
In order to ensure consistent execution of Charlotte Mason's pedagogical priorities and the highest quality of educational atmosphere, The Augustine Academy is partnering with Ambleside School International. This organization has been coming alongside schools desirous of Charlotte Mason education for 17 years and has established 12 US schools and 5 worldwide. Ambleside trains our teachers, assists our school leadership, helps train our parents, and provides top-tier classical curriculum and classroom guidance in step with Mason's ideals.
The Charlotte Mason perspective provides the rich pedagogical anthropology from which we train teachers at Augustine and use to uphold a positive, joy-filled atmosphere in a rigorous classroom environment. It is also a wonderful foundation for our classical content, purpose, and method.
Steeped in Classical Content and Tradition
The term classical is used frequently in educational circles to refer to any number of educational priorities, and not always the same ones. What is most often inferred from the words "classical education" is education that is somehow serious-- usually because students are examining older texts, some which find root in the ancient Greek and Roman tradition, and others that are considered "classic" for different reasons. In other instances, the term "classical" is used to describe a three-part training of the mind known as the trivium: early years are spent absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundation for future study; middle grades are for learning to logically think through arguments; and upper grades are for learning to express oneself with the wealth of grammar and logic that has been learned.
At The Augustine Academy, we use the term classical education to refer primarily to the content that we engage. We are committed to familiarizing students with the fullness of a liberal arts education. Students will study across a breadth of subjects, exploring the best of the ancient and modern canon. We'll also include classical Latin and conversational Spanish in our curriculum. Our education is also classical in purpose: to grow in both knowledge and virtue. Classical education is rooted in a belief that the world makes sense, and is knowable. Its Goodness, Truth, and Beauty are inherent attributes of God, existing independently from the educator, student, or item of study, waiting to be discovered for His glory. As such, our purpose is to educate young men and women of wisdom, having the knowledge for understanding life and the virtue for living it. Finally, our education is classical in method. We utilize the tools of memorization, recitation, and imitation to master facts and engage rich content. Students are challenged to regular drill and practice of foundational concepts of grammar and mathematics so that advanced manipulation and use comes with ease. Narration is used extensively as an learning practice, searing concepts in the children's minds so they have made it their own and can later recall and apply it in their own work and living. We believe that memory drill, logic, and rhetoric are relevant skills and capacities of all grade levels and we encourage every student, at each grade level, to make use of each element of the classical trivium in their thinking.