The Lower Middle School of the SLO Classical Academy is a transitional period when students are moving from concrete thinkers in the grammar stage to burgeoning logical thinkers. Building on the foundation set in the primary and intermediate levels of our school, the Lower Middle School seeks to shepherd students through this time by introducing them to logical thinking through the use of English grammar, pre-logic exercises, and encouraging connections in history and literature. Students are challenged to seek the meaning behind the content they learn in all subjects.
Strong Academic Skills
The goal of this stage of learning is to make use of the emerging independence of these students and translate their desire for independence into ownership of their education. Students at this stage must begin to learn the why and how of the subjects they learn. Students are ready to understand the system of English grammar and how the parts of speech work together to form well-crafted sentences and are then developed into meaningful and purposeful paragraphs. Students continue to sharpen basic math skills and strengthen their understanding of how these concepts work together and the relationships between numbers and how they work in space and time. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand throughout the curriculum at SLOCA, and in this stage students will learn that this relationship is integral to becoming part of the great conversation in which we learn from authors and historical figures of the past while communicating ideas in the present and into the future. The Latin curriculum used allows the student to read and understand Latin from the very first day of class. Home educators continue to reinforce the work done at school, but more and more students are encouraged to own their education.
Strong Analytical Skills
Like the ability to speak, walk, and read all require a combination of training and developmental readiness, logical thinking develops when teaching and logical readiness meet. Emerging independent learners need support from the adults in their lives to test the waters of reasonable thought. It does not require a teaching degree to recognize that middle school children want to exert their wills, but that their wills are not to a level of maturity to make them completely tolerable. Rather than fight against some of the unreasonable claims of these emerging thinkers, the teachers at SLOCA begin equipping students with the tools of reason. We call this instruction pre-logic. Students are exposed to logical fallacies, writing strategies, and Socratic questioning, sharpening their abilities to think and communicate in an orderly and thoughtful way. Mastery of thinking skills is not the goal; rather, recognition of faulty thinking and practice in the tools of reasoning well.
With greater maturity, personal responsibility for one’s actions becomes more important. As emerging independent learners, it is important for students to recognize how individual character fits within the greater community of learners at SLOCA and beyond. Teachers and home educators continue to partner in maintaining and implementing age-appropriate standards of excellence and personal responsibility. What is distinct about students entering into the logic stage is that they will likely test the waters and question the validity of boundaries. It is important to offer support through logical consequences and reasonable conversations regarding standards of behavior.