Stratford Classical Christian Academy

Why Latin?

The study of Latin is an integral part of a classical education. From antiquity through the nineteenth century, Western educators understood its power to sharpen one’s grasp of language and to teach clear thinking and speaking. Today, moreover, Latin is of inestimable value in conveying an appreciation for Western culture and history. In sum, Latin contributes beautifully to accomplishing all of the goals of the Trivium.

The study of Latin greatly enhances the young child’s grasp of the English language. Since most English words are derived from Latin, an understanding of these roots increases the range and depth of a student’s vocabulary. Mastering the subtleties and nuances of Latin grammar also aids in the comprehension of complex English sentences. Latin study, therefore, contributes enormously to the grammar stage of classical education.

Latin is a complex but very systematic language. Reading it requires more than just memorization. It entails the comparison and analysis of subtle forms and differences. It involves the practical application of rules and principles. We see, therefore, that it teaches logical thinking.

The study of Latin also involves the study of Latin authors. Experiencing these authors means encountering the greatest writers and thinkers of two thousand years of Western culture. In teaching Latin, we are exposing our students to the best of the rhetorical tradition. What better way to learn the art of skillful communication than from the masters of our own intellectual history?

Finally, we note that Latin is the linguistic soul of our culture. Most of the languages of Western Europe evolved, to some extent, from Latin. Over fifty percent of our own English vocabulary is derived from Latin. Into the eighteenth century, moreover, the literature, the theology, the history, the science, and the philosophy of the West were composed in this language. Knowing Latin enables the student to understand and appreciate this heritage./p>

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What is your statement of faith?

Stratford Classical Christian Academy is committed to the absolute authority of Scripture. We believe that the Old and New Testaments are the infallible Word of God, containing God’s will for faith and life, belief and practice. We affirm the historic Christian doctrines of the Protestant Reformation and have adopted as our Doctrinal Standards the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.

“The Westminster Standards . . . are the richest and most precise and best guarded statement ever penned of all that enters into evangelical religion, and of all that must be safeguarded if evangelical religion is to persist in the world.” – B. B. Warfield

“As far as I am able to judge, the Christian world, since the days of the Apostles, had never a synod of more excellent divines than this (the Westminster Assembly).” – Richard Baxter

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What is your philosophy?

SCCA will use the Christ-centered and classical trivium¹ philosophy of education and teaching methodology. This approach to education is inherently different from that offered in schools established, controlled, and/or developed by those who hold to non-Biblical, humanistic philosophies. At all its levels, programs, and teachings, SCCA seeks to:

A. Teach all subjects as parts of an integrated whole with the Scriptures at the center (2 Timothy 3: 16-17).

B. Provide a clear model of Biblical Christian life through its staff and Board (Matthew 22:37-40).

C. Encourage every child in the development and maintaining of his or her relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).

D. Emphasize grammar, logic, and rhetoric in all subjects as pertains to the stage of education of the students.

E. Encourage every student to develop a love for learning and to achieve his or her academic potential./p>

F. Provide an orderly and disciplined atmosphere conducive to the attaining of these goals. SCCA attempts to operate as an extension of the family under the belief that the education, training, and discipline of young people is the responsibility of parents rather than the responsibility of the state or the Church (Deuteronomy 6).

The board and staff seek to serve parents who desire that their children be educated according to the doctrines and principles that identify SCCA as a classical and Christian School. SCCA in no way seeks to replace parents or to usurp parent’s God given responsibility for the education and training of their children.

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What is your mission statement?

The mission of Stratford Classical Christian Academy is to assist parents in training their children by using a classical methodology and proven curriculum to (a) develop godly character, (b) give a knowledge of our Christian and Reformed heritage and Christ’s work in history, (c) provide the tools to acquire, process, express, and defend knowledge from a Biblical worldview, to the end that students will glorify God by excelling in every duty and calling God has for them throughout their lives.

The mission of Stratford Classical Christian Academy is to equip covenant children with the tools of learning by following the three-fold approach known as the Trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric). In all school endeavors, SCCA upholds the standards of the Westminster Confession of Faith and strives for holiness by upholding high standards of honor for God, His commandments, and the authorities He has placed over us.

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How did SCCA get started?

Like many other Christians in our community, members of tratford Presbyterian Church desire to educate their children in accordance with a Christian understanding of the world. Furthermore, they desire to educate them in the most effective manner possible, so that their children will grow to be well equipped to fulfill their duties to Jesus Christ. Such duties will include their responsibilities as Church members, as citizens in the community, as spouses and parents, and as workers in their vocations.

In seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, Stratford Orthodox Presbyterian Church began planning to establish the Stratford Classical Christian Academy (SCCA) in the summer of 2000. The school was founded by Rev. Martin Dawson, and a school board was appointed to begin researching the best methods of education available. Early in this process, the SCCA board decided that the classical method of education, rooted in a Biblical worldview, was a superior foundation on which to build the school

Over the course of the next year (2001) the school board began to consult with several other Classical Christian schools such as Tall Oaks Classical Christian School in Delaware, and to develop bylaws and a comprehensive business plan. The goal was to create a school that would be built on a solid foundation theologically, philosophically, and financially. It was determined in the Spring of 2002 that SCCA would seek to open its doors in the Fall of 2003. The Lord has blessed the labors of those involved in SCCA, and with His blessing we opened our doors in the Fall of 2003.

The Academy’s long term vision is to graduate students who have received a superior education, and who endeavor in their callings after graduation to bring honor to the name of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Stratford Classical Christian Academy plans to assist parents in training their children in the historic Christian faith, and in a manner consistent with the Classical method of education. It plans to begin with a few grades, kindergarten through third grade, and then to add grades as it becomes more self-sufficient.

Stratford Classical Christian Academy is committed to the absolute authority of Scripture. We believe that the infallible Word of God is found in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. We affirm the historic Christian doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, and we have adopted as our Doctrinal Standards the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.

The classical method of education is based upon the Trivium, consisting of “grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric”. These three stages of the classical method correspond to the Trivium of “knowledge, understanding, and wisdom” found in the Book of Proverbs.

SCCA is a parochial school, meaning that it is a ministry of the Church. While many private Christian day schools have done a fine job of providing a Christ honoring education, we believe that there are distinct advantages to having the school under the oversight of a solid Church. Such oversight ensures the doctrinal integrity of the whole enterprise.

SCCA is operated by a Board of Directors which is appointed and overseen by the Session of Stratford Orthodox Presbyterian Church. SCCA has Headmasters who govern and are responsible for the day to day operation of the school.

The curriculum for the early grades includes the following subjects: Bible, mathematics, grammar, phonics, history, science, art, linguistics, literature, Latin and physical education. The curriculum is provided by various Classical Christian school sources, such as Veritas Press.

In addition, SCCA is assisting home schooling parents who desire to implement the classical method at home. This is done through a la carte classes, curriculum assistance, and classroom observation.

SCCA will seek accreditation from the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS)

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What is your student to teacher ratio?

Currently the average student to teacher ratio is 11:1.

The board policy is that no class will exceed 19 students for 1 teacher. In the instance more than 19 students are enrolled in a class a waiting list will be initiated. A full time assistant will be required if the class size exceeds 19 students. In the case the class size warrants two classes a new full time teacher will be hired.

If you have further questions please contact the academy.

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What grades do you offer?

We offer pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

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What is Classical Education?

Classical education is a return to the roots of Christian learning. Throughout the ages, Christian thinkers in the West have drawn upon a common store of literature, theology, philosophy, science, and history. To impart this wisdom, they have leaned upon educational techniques that were initiated in antiquity and perfected throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Today, classical education revisits both the techniques of antiquity and that body of knowledge represented in the greatest art, science, literature, and history of our culture.

In technique, the classical tradition employs methods intended to teach clear, logical thinking, and elegant speech and writing. Grammar, logic, and rhetoric are at the core of this effort. These three disciplines (called the Trivium by medieval Christians) not only govern the study and use of language, but even structure the study of history, science, and mathematics. Beginning with grammar, students learn the basic facts and principles of a given subject, whether in science, math, English, or Latin. In keeping with the developmental needs of the child, this elementary phase is followed by formal logic in the middle school years. Structured debate, comparison, and analysis are encouraged across the disciplines. Finally, rhetoric teaches the art of persuasive communication, but never in isolation from real knowledge. Writing and speaking, therefore, form part of the learning in every subject during the high school years.

In content, classical Christian education seeks to impart the knowledge necessary for a broad and critical awareness of the world and human society. Scripture, theology, history, literature, science, mathematics, English, and the Latin language receive privileged attention. Beginning with the reality of God and His self-revelation in Christ and the Bible, classical educators seek to unite all knowledge into a coherent Christian worldview. In teaching history, classical educators aim not merely for a chronology of events, but for a critical engagement with the great minds and ideas of the past, and for a deep exploration of our culture’s crucial turning points. In literature, students read the best books from throughout the ages, testing them against the touchstone of the Bible. In science and math, the goal is not only to master basic facts and principles, but also to learn their significance and to understand the historical development of mathematical and scientific thought. Through L atin, students are taught to scrutinize language and to think and write with precision. Moreover, Latin enables them to read the great books of Western civilization. Classical education is a tradition with a long history. The earliest Christians saw that the tools of Graeco-Roman education could easily be adjusted for the service of the Church. Adapting the classical model to the demands of a Biblical theology, they employed its emphasis upon language, logic, science, and precision in the articulation of a compelling Christian worldview.

In modern times, however, grammar and logic have been abandoned as either boring or irrelevant. Disciplined and structured rhetoric, moreover, have been passed over in favor of an excessive worship of freedom and of subjectivism. The result of this defection, however, has not been individual discovery, but rather, a loss of moral and aesthetic standards. Classical education today is a rediscovery of these lost tools of learning.

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What is the Trivium?

Throughout western history, education has employed the use of a three-fold methodology for teaching and learning. Remember, these are not “subjects”, but rather methods and tools for learning.

The first stage is entitled the Grammar stage. Here, from about ages 6-12 (the elementary school years) children are introduced to matters such as math facts, historical timelines, people and places, scientific laws, English grammar rules, and all sorts of other content. At this level of child development, children naturally absorb vast amounts of material, and they do so with great joy by singing, chanting, rhyming, and memorizing.

The middle school years are termed the Dialectic, or Logic stage. At this level, children naturally begin to challenge the natural order of things, asking, “Why?” or “Is that really true?” Rather than frowning on this, a classical education nurtures this by teaching formal and informal logic, as well as debate and discussion. If students want to argue, they should be taught to argue properly and biblically.

As students become more self-focused and expressive, they transition into the Rhetoric stage. This comprises the high school years. Public speaking, oratory skills, poetic expression, and apologetics are the focus of instruction and learning.

These three stages or methods are known as the Trivium, and lay at the heart of classical education. Dorothy Sayers calls this “Teaching with the grain.” It has been used successfully for centuries. Why reinvent the wheel?

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Is the Trivium Biblical?

Yes we believe the Trivium is Biblical. We believe Christian education must be Biblical in both form and substance. That is a Biblical Method also known as pedagogy married with Biblical content produces a thorough robust and well equipped Christian who is ready to stand against every the assaults of the enemy in the day of battle.

A Christian education that focuses on content only is much better than no Christian content. However we believe for Christian education to be truly Christian must have a Biblical method and Biblical methodology. The Trivium is the Biblical methodology.

The article below is one we believe best articulates the basis for why the Trivium is Biblical.

The Classis, Vol. 4, No. 1, January, 1997, Covenant Media Foundation, 800/553-3938

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The Trivium in Biblical Perspective

By Pastor Randy Booth

The fear of the Lord is the starting place (Prov. 1:7) and the ending place (Eccl. 12:12-13) of all legitimate learning. It is God’s creature functioning in context. Absent the recognition of God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of life, the learning of particular facts is vain and the assembling of those facts into a cohesive whole is impossible. It is somewhat like lifting sentences at random from a novel and trying to organize them into something that makes sense without acknowledging there ever was a novel or novel writer.

The unbeliever learns, but to what end? Perhaps he becomes proficient, or even excellent at performing particular tasks­—he gets a good job—he makes a lot of money. Nevertheless, “what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” It does not matter how smooth and fast the train is if in the end the bridge is out. It was the rich man that found himself on the other side of the great chasm from Abraham, crying for a drop of water.

While the unbeliever swerves into the truth on a regular basis, without the fear of the Lord he has no means of discerning good from evil (Heb. 5:14). He is a creature, made in God’s image, living in God’s world. However, since he does not acknowledge any of this, the truths he does pick up fall short of accomplishing their intended purpose which is to glorify God.

The development of the trivium model of classical learning is, perhaps, an example of how unbelievers borrow truth from God’s world and yet fail to give God the credit. As believers we should adopt or reject the trivium model of learning not for pragmatic reasons but because it is either true or false. Our primary concern should be: is it biblical? The Scriptures are our only rule of faith and life, not the Romans or modern pedagogues. All truth claims must pass the biblical standard.

What is the “Trivium”?

I believe the trivium model of learning (as far as it goes), passes the biblical test. While the Romans did not start or end with the fear of God (though some in the medieval period perhaps did), nevertheless, they did get part of it right. The “trivium” has reference to educational method—how to educate. The model is comprised of three phases of learning: 1) grammar, 2) dialectic, and 3) rhetoric. These are but new labels for the biblical concepts of: 1) knowledge, 2) understanding, and 3) wisdom. All learning will involve these three steps: gathering particular information (grammar or knowledge phase), assembling that information into its proper relationships (dialectic or understanding phase), and then applying that understanding of the particulars to various situations in an effective way (rhetoric or wisdom phase). This is simply the way God made us and the world in which we live. The jigsaw puzzle illustrates the process—particular pieces must be arranged in the right relationshi p to one another before we can see the big picture.

These three areas of learning interact, each one with the other. Without knowledge there can be no understanding or wisdom. Knowledge and understanding are likewise necessary if there is to be wisdom. The wise man is able to acquire even more knowledge and understanding, thus becoming more wise—he has learned how to learn.

Child development is the maturing process—proceeding from the simple to the complex—knowledge, understanding and then wisdom. There are plenty of smart six-year-olds but not very many wise ones. Thus the trivium begins with young children focusing on learning the grammar of every subject—multiplication tables, parts of speech, spelling, books of the Bible, events in history, etc. At about age 12 or so, children ask more and more the “why” questions. This is where the trivuim focuses on dialectic or logic. The student begins to understand the place and importance of each subject of study. The final focus of the trivium is on rhetoric. The older students now learn how to articulate and apply the various fields of study to life.

Biblical Terminology

The Bible clearly distinguishes these three types of learning while also revealing their interdependency. Each aspect of learning comes as a gift from God. Moses commended Bezalel saying, “And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship” (Ex. 35:34). Proverbs declares, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (2:6) and “Wise men store up knowledge…” (10:14). Daniel describes God as the One who “gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding” (2:21).

In Scripture, knowledge (grammar) seems to be focused on particular words, information or instructions that must be received or rejected by the hearer. A wise teacher instructs a willing learner who receives particular information from his instructor. Balaam spoke of, “The oracle of him who hears the words of God, and knows the knowledge of the Most High” (Num. 24:16). The Proverbs also make this connection evident: “Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge” (14:7); “the lips of the wise spread knowledge” (15:7): “the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (18:15); “Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge” (19:27); “when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge” (21:11); “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge” (22:12); in Ecclesiastes, “the Preacher taught the people knowledge” (12:9) and in Malachi, “for the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men sh ould seek instruction from his mouth” (2:7).

Understanding (dialectic) in Scripture is directed toward discerning good from evil, truth from falsehood. In other words, the one who has understanding has good judgment. He comprehends the right relationship of the particular pieces of knowledge to the whole. This is the syntax or logic of learning. King Solomon prayed, “So give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:9). Job observes, “And to depart from evil is understanding” (28:28). Genuine understanding is evidenced in obedience to the truth as we see in these passages from Psalms: “A good understanding have all those who do His Commandments” (111:10); “Give me understanding, that I may observe Thy law, and keep it with all my heart” (119:34); “Give me understanding, that I may learn Thy commandments” (119:73); “From Thy precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way” (119:104). The Proverbs observe: “a man of understanding walks straight” (15:21) and “T he rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor who has understanding sees through him” (28:11). God complains to Jeremiah, “For My people are foolish. They know Me not; they are stupid children, and they have no understanding. They are shrewd to do evil, but to do good they do not know” (4:22). Daniel and his companions were described as those who were “endowed with understanding, and discerning knowledge” (Dan. 1:4). The apostle John points us to the ultimate purpose of understanding when he writes, “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true…” (1 John 5:20).

Wisdom (rhetoric) is the ability to arrange, articulate and apply knowledge and understanding in a variety of circumstances. “In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs” (Eccl. 12:9). “The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable…” (Prov. 15:2). “The lips of the wise spread knowledge…” (Prov. 15:7). Israel recognized Solomon’s wisdom, “for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice” (1 Kings 3:28). The Psalms declare: “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom” (37:30); “My mouth will speak wisdom” (49:3). Again, the Proverbs support this aspect of learning: “The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom” (10:31); “She opens her mouth in wisdom” (31:26). Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge and understanding as revealed in Ecclesiastes: “For wisdom is protection just as money is protection. But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives o f its possessors” (7:12); “Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city” (7:19); “Wisdom is better than strength” (;16); “Wisdom is better than the weapons of war” (9:18); “Wisdom has the advantage of giving success” (10:10). You are to have the “word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another…” (Col. 3:16); the Scriptures are “able to give you wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15); and we are told, “conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity” (Col. 4:5).

The use of classical terminology (e.g., the “trivium,” “grammar,” “dialectic” and “rhetoric”) is useful, provided we comprehend that the substance of this model is rooted in Scripture. It is only in the context of the fear of God that genuine knowledge, understanding and wisdom can be attained. All other efforts, in the end, prove to be folly. Tota et sola Scriptura. Our final allegiance is to all of Scripture, and only Scripture.

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What do you mean by a Christian worldview?

The unique commission of a Christian school is to teach students to think well, and to think Biblically. Students should learn that Christianity offers an expansive understanding of the nature of the world and the meaning of human history. Though only the Holy Spirit can change a heart, students can be taught how to scrutinize many kinds of assertions according to Scriptural and logical criteria. To impart this Biblically grounded understanding of the world, together with the means to defend it, is to impart a Christian worldview.

The Christian worldview begins with the reality of the triune God and His self-revelation in creation, Christ, and the Bible. From these first principles flows a host of implications, which students must learn to recognize and to apply to a variety of questions. For example, the reality of the Christian God means that our world is created and subordinate to Him. Our ultimate allegiance should be given only to God, not to human ideologies or institutions, nor to any creature. However, the Christian doctrine of creation also teaches that the world is good and to be enjoyed, and that humans are created in God’s image. We learn to reject philosophies that deny the value of human life, of marriage, of family, of government, or of any divine institution.

Formulating a Christian worldview is nothing other than submission to the Biblical command to make every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:5). While our human reasoning is flawed, we have in Scripture an infallible guide to truth, beauty, and goodness. Using God’s gifts of language and reason, therefore, we strive to apply this rule to every area of human life, thinking through the ramifications of our faith. This is the aim of a Christian education.

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Do you teach math and science?

Students educated in a classical school learn language, literature, and history well. The classical emphasis upon grammar, logic, rhetoric, and Latin ensures this. But what is the classical approach to math and science? How does one pursue excellence in these disciplines within the boundaries of the classical model? We find that classical school students are at no disadvantage here. In fact, classical education provides an exceptional foundation in these subjects.

Our goal in science and math education is threefold. First, we want students to explore deeply the physical world God made and to appreciate its awesome beauty and complexity. Second, we want to give students the intellectual tools to understand complex mathematical and scientific concepts and to succeed in scientific or technical careers should they choose to pursue these. Third, we want students as Christians to reflect critically upon the place of science in our society. They should appreciate that science is a human discipline that developed over time, is subject to change, and is therefore not absolute. To accomplish these goals, we follow the same model that we apply in all courses of study.

Classical education today means both employing certain methods and selecting a particular type of content. This is as true for math and science as it is for language, literature, and history. Methodologically, we follow the order of the Trivium. With respect to content, we teach with an eye not only for what is foundational to the discipline, but also for that which is culturally and historically significant.

In the grammar years, classical educators focus on the building blocks of math and science. Through memorization, repetition, and drill, students learn the basic facts of arithmetic. In science, they enjoy hands on experiments, but not to the exclusion of a solid familiarity with the important vocabulary and concepts of biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, and geology. All these are set in context through the reading of histories and scientific biographies.

In the logic years, students are challenged to understand the abstract relationships found in algebra and geometry. In science, likewise, they study the connections between different physical phenomena and the relationships between different scientific concepts and theories. At this stage, students are also ready to approach more intently the history and development of modern science and its cultural significance.

In the rhetoric years, students progress through algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. With this firm foundation in math, they are able to engage in a more serious exploration of physics, chemistry, and biology, complete with complex equations and interesting experiments. Study of math and science is enhanced in the rhetoric years by selective reading in the original works of the great western scientists and mathematicians. The classical approach to math and science covers the basic elements that a student would receive in any good school. The classical approach is unique however, not only in its methods, but also in the content that it adds to the curriculum. Upon completion of the classical course of study, students in math and science should have the skills to think critically and to write and speak persuasively about the scientific disciplines and their place in modern culture. As Christians, they will know how to appropriate scientific concepts without falling prey to our culture’s exaggerated veneration of science.

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