Classical LEarning

Classical methods lay a solid foundation for curious minds.

Geneva School students leaning in to observe teacher
The classical approach leverages ancient, time-proven techniques to develop lifelong learners who are able to think critically and engage persuasively in all areas of life.

At Geneva School the classical environment is teacher-directed yet highly participatory and interactive, fully engaging students with the content and with their fellow learners. The classical approach trains the mind to think and ignites a passion to learn. Because all knowledge is interrelated, connections are made between subjects, building coherence in the student’s mind. Mental agility is vital for adapting in an ever-changing world. We believe that the mastery of these tools of learning will serve our students for a lifetime, equipping them to tackle any topic of interest they undertake long after they step out of the classroom.

Classical learning is grounded in a cumulative three-stage methodology, called the Trivium (meaning three roads). The three Trivium phases brilliantly befit the natural stages of child’s development, taking full advantage of each age’s curiosity and delight for learning. These three phases include:

Children learn best in an environment where they can bring their whole selves. At Geneva School, our educational approach engages the whole child—mind and body, social and emotional, spiritual and physical.

1 — Grammar Phase

In the early years children enjoy absorbing information through memorization, rhyme, and song. These fundamental elements lay the foundation for all other learning.

Preschool through Fifth Grade children love to learn about the world and all of creation. Their minds are particularly wired to absorb information more rapidly than at any other time in their lives. Taking advantage of these sponge-like years, the classical model pours in all the key grammatical and mathematical building blocks necessary for a rich and broad foundation. Learning takes place through a variety of engaging ways, including playful experiences, creative performances, and the memorization of facts through songs, rhymes, and jingles. Geneva School students love to sing, dance, and clap out history timelines, science facts, Bible verses, and grammar rules. Through teaching the fundamental principles of language, mathematics, science, history, French, Bible, chess, and the fine arts, students learn to think critically, write clearly, and begin to speak convincingly.

2 — Logic Phase

In the middle grades, students engage in critical thinking and learn the fine points of logical argument and reasoning.

Sixth through Eighth Grade students begin to form strong opinions and often have a genuine urge to argue. Because their capacity for abstract thought is maturing, this is the perfect age to introduce formal debate and logical reasoning. Students begin to think critically about the facts they have learned and work toward applying knowledge, historical context, and the fine points of logic. Students engage primary sources for research, and formal debate is a part of the Upper School curriculum. Using the Socratic method to engage students, teachers encourage debate and critical thinking. Classes are taught from an interdisciplinary approach with an emphasis on how subjects relate to each other. Within this learning environment, students discover their own specific passions, talents, and potential.

Upper School
Upper School students sitting in a circle of desks
Geneva School student speaking on stage

3 — Rhetoric Phase

In the high school years, students further develop their use of grammar and logic in order to articulate their opinions clearly and persuasively.

Ninth through Twelfth Grade students apply the rules of logic and foundational information learned in the earlier phases in order to express their conclusions through cogent writing and oratory skills. Students grow in deeper engagement with and appreciation for core subjects in order to understand their interrelatedness and alignment with a fast-moving, multicultural world. Through regular opportunities for public speaking and debate, students learn to listen and communicate well, a combination that fosters wisdom, goodwill, and civility. To this end, we seek to help students grow to be comfortable in their own skin and extend that comfort to others. More importantly, we desire that our students know transcendent truths so that they may be good and seek the common good of others. Undergirded by an ever-deepening understanding of their identity in Christ, students sharpen skills that will serve them for a lifetime and are prepared to become leaders in scholarship, virtue, and faith.

Upper School
I have not seen this at any other school. I saw 100 percent of the faculty engaging 100 percent of the students, 100 percent of the time!"
— John H. (P'26, '28, '30)

History of Classical Learning

The term "classical" refers to the classical period of the Greek and Roman civilizations, from which we obtained ancient teaching in mythology, art, architecture, and languages. Classical education has produced many of the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders, and scientists throughout history.

Classical training in literature, Latin, history, and rhetoric was the norm until the twentieth century, when a gradual shift to a progressive model eroded the stalwart foundation of classical learning. In the last few decades, there has been a shift in education towards interactive and experiential learning. In some ways, this is a return to the classical approach where students learned through experience under a tutor.

Our Curriculum

The classical pedagogy forms the foundation of all aspects of the Geneva School curriculum. Our teachers equip students to explore various subjects within the framework of historical periods, beginning with Ancient Egyptian history and progressing to Greek and Roman periods, Middle Ages, Renaissance, and modern history. At Geneva School we place a special emphasis on our students’ ability to read great books for themselves and to evaluate, question, discuss, present, debate, and even teach based on their own ability and curiosity.

Our curriculum also includes music, art, physical education, chess, and languages. We offer further training in classical music through music lessons at The Geneva Conservatory of Music. With this integration of classical methods and robust curriculum, our students become apt communicators and acquire a love of learning.

Finally, and most importantly, we are not only a classical school but also a Christian school. This means, very simply, that theology (the things of God and his Word) serve as “eye-glasses” to our students so that they look at their lessons, their classes, and their world with reasonable faith and a love for God and mankind.

Our Approach to Technology

Students learn best in dialogue between teacher and student. We believe that books are superior to screens when it comes to reading comprehension and facilitation of classroom interaction and discussion. We approach technology as an informed consumer, utilizing it as a tool for research and to produce professional documents and presentations. Furthermore, we believe that a vibrant classical education lays a stronger foundation for the pursuit of further studies in the sciences by instilling reasoning, creativity, and critical thinking skills in problem solving, equipping our graduates with the tools for future success. 

We are dedicated to providing an exceptional education that nourishes mind, soul, and heart to inspire students to grow abundantly.

our Distinctives