“Building upon the foundation of the Core Knowledge Sequence, Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy: A Challenge Foundation Academy partners with families to educate students in grades K-12 in the trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, thus graduating thoughtful, articulate young adults who are prepared for college and for a lifetime of citizenship and active intellectual inquiry.”
The words of the school’s mission statement succinctly describe TJCA-CFA’s educational program.
TJCA-CFA’s charter and the essay on which it is based (the late Dorothy Sayers’s “Lost Tools of Learning”) emphasize that the trivium is foundational both for further studies and for post-collegiate life. For these reasons, TJCA-CFA requires all high school students to take two years of Latin (with an emphasis on grammar), two years of logic, and a year of rhetoric, culminating in a senior rhetoric thesis.
Sayers emphasizes that grammar, logic, and rhetoric are stages of learning as well as foundational disciplines. During the grammar stage of learning (kindergarten through early adolescence), teachers provide a rigorous grounding in the “grammar” (or basics) of English, history, mathematics, science, art, and music by using the Core Knowledge Sequence developed by E. D. Hirsch. In accord with Sayers’s essay, teachers emphasize observation, memorization, and recitation during the grammar stage.
During the dialectic or logic stage (early adolescence), Socratic questioning, logical argumentation, and discursive reasoning come to the fore. Later, during the rhetoric stage (later adolescence), teachers emphasize public speaking, presentations, and a synthesis of the knowledge gained in the various disciplines.
Thus, TJCA-CFA’s curriculum is a unified whole in which the grammar stage prepares students for the logic stage, which in turn prepares students for the rhetoric stage, thus preparing graduates for a lifetime of active intellectual inquiry and citizenship.
Throughout the TJCA-CFA curriculum, preference is shown whenever possible for original works — particularly the great books that have stood the test of time — over textbook summaries. In addition, TJCA-CFA takes to heart Plato’s observation that the fine arts and athletics play a crucial role in classical education.