Summer 2013: Prepare - Know Why - SLO Classical Academy
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San Luis Obispo Classical Academy San Luis Obispo Classical Academy

Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

Semper discentes—always learning together.
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Summer 2013: Prepare – Know Why

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To whom are your kids accountable for their learning?

As you mentally prepare for the school year ahead, either jumping into Classical Education for the first time or continuing this educational journey with your family, we encourage you to know why you have chosen a Classical Education for your children, or to remind yourself of the benefits of this way of learning. Our school website has a brief but excellent description of Classical Education, as well as links to further information. 

To help keep the vision and philosophy freshly before us, Down Home will be posting regularly about different aspects of Classical Education throughout the school year. Today our Associate Director Troy Wathen shares an inspiring view on learning classically, in relation to the question above. We hope you will read this and be affirmed in your choice of a SLO Classical education:

If you take the time to study how many of the greatest minds in history were taught, invariably you will find that the major components of their education included the study of Greek and Roman authors, ancient languages, and a broad training in science and mathematics. Often for leisure, these individuals read Greek myths, rich literature (the difficult stuff), and tinkered with classic architecture, art, astronomy and music. This was the type of learning that inspired these men and women to think deeply about the rights of man (male and female), the limits of government, and the value of an educated populace. These individuals learned to write by copying the form of rhetoricians of the past, usually writing in multiple languages. 

On our SLOCA tour of Monticello this year, our group was informed that Thomas Jefferson read and wrote in, I think, eight different languages. For fun, he would take a passage from an ancient author; translate the passage through all eight of those languages and back into the Latin or Greek. He considered himself a success if the final translation matched the original as close to word for word as could be expected. One could argue that Jefferson was a genius, but it is also true that he had a tutor named George Wythe who trained him, and many other notable patriot thinkers, using classical methods, rich literature, and exposure to the philosophies of the past and present.

  

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale , and Bust of George Wythe in the Old Senate Chamber in the Virginia State Capitol

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Recently I have been reading a book entitled Community. One of the themes of the book is that for community to work there must be accountability amongst the members. The author emphasizes that this accountability can’t be something imposed upon us from above, but rather our decision to be accountable for our own role in the community. In our present educational culture, accountability is a buzzword, but my question is, to whom was Thomas Jefferson or other great thinkers accountable to for their learning? My guess is, not to the department of education, but rather to themselves…maybe their parents. I need to read more, but I don’t even think that the good teacher Mr. Wythe had to do much to hold young Thomas accountable. Jefferson knew that his education was his. We are the beneficiaries of our founders’ education.

Now back to modern-day classical education. In an age when we, as a society, are all about holding schools, teachers, and students accountable to the education we are paying for, we miss the real issue. Students must recognize that education really, and I mean REALLY, is for their own good. For education to work, agreement from students must actually be present. In fact, students must have presence of mind in order to make education work. The content we offer as classical educators is similar to that which has trained many great minds. What we seek to do by partnering with parents and their children is to get that agreement and that presence of mind from our students. This, coupled with great content, is what makes a SLOCA education distinctive. 

Those who join us are not escapists! Rather, those who join us must choose to be engaged in that “great experiment” of Democracy that others, like that young Thomas Jefferson, decided to join in. I invite you to join in this great endeavor which has stood the test of time. 

The Signing of the Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull

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