sloCAHS: Our Philosophy - 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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sloCAHS: Our Philosophy

Today we wrap up our High School series here at Down Home, and want to leave you with some important information about our philosophy and program. In addition, you can check out a couple of videos made by our high school students on our website, visit our FAQ page, or email [email protected] with any questions. 


San Luis Obispo Classical Academy High School (sloCAHS) offers a unique combination of exceptional classical education, highly qualified and dedicated teachers, and students who are thinking and thriving. SloCAHS' unparalleled learning environment crafts a different type of student – one who is knowledgeable and thinks critically with the ability to discern, analyze, problem solve, and effectively communicate his or her own opinions. SloCAHS students are not only well prepared to succeed in college, but are also imbued with the increasingly rare skills and habits required to become leaders and lifelong learners. You'll want to read on to learn more about this outstanding program's philosophy of classical education, its nurturing social community, and the specific courses offered and their uncompromising goals!


Classical teaching techniques have been proven to prepare students to perform well on standardized tests and succeed in college. The classical education offered at SLOCA encompasses three guiding principles:  the Rhetoric stage of the Trivium, Great Books, and the Socratic Method.

RHETORIC builds off of the two prior stages of the Trivium, grammar and logic (taught in grades K – 8 at SLOCA), by honing students' ability to persuade. The art of persuasion demands not only a grounded understanding of a topic, but also a critical interpretation of it, and finally the ability to effectively communicate this opinion through oral presentations, class discussions, debates, and essays. This approach guides instruction in every class as students are asked to absorb, evaluate, and then express their outlooks on everything from fictional characters to scientific theories.

GREAT BOOKS have been tested by time and have stretched across cultures, generations, and human differences. They are the best of mankind's literary achievements and address the age-old questions of humanity. Too often schools will settle for books that are deemed easier or more current than the classics, but frequently these choices entertain for a moment rather than affecting the reader for a lifetime. Classics speak to today's students as they have spoken to mankind throughout the ages. Great Books will awaken students' imaginations, help shape their moral character, and provide a matchless model of writing. They will also equip students for meaningful, challenging conversations and improve their understanding of future reading since good writing so often includes references to the classics.

THE SOCRATIC METHOD is the technique developed by Socrates that teaches through questioning, encouraging deep thinking over rote learning. Questions are in-depth and open-ended and thus challenge the student to process information in a way that reaches beyond exposure and beyond memorization to draw out critical thinking. In this way we diverge significantly from most educational institutions, which have trended towards prescribed, formulaic instruction. The Socratic Method, on the other hand, trains students how to think independently, engage in dialogue of differing perspectives, grapple with big questions, and communicate effectively.  


SloCAHS is a vibrant and safe community for students to gather, study, connect, and grow into responsible young adults. In our intimate high school setting, students experience each academic year alongside a tight-knit peer group. This setting creates a unique opportunity for students to grow together and draw on one another's strengths in an atmosphere of respect and camaraderie. Small class sizes foster a safe environment through accountability and intentional character development, and they also allow for the focused, individual attention necessary to craft a truly rich and tailored educational experience.

We are continually offering additional opportunities to cultivate the social life of the sloCAHS student. These include, but are not limited to:  a literary arts review club, blog contributions, the volleyball team, annual out of town field trips, camping excursions, prom, bonfires, movie nights, and outings to performances. Students are also encouraged to pursue their own interests and develop personal initiative by establishing, with the school's support, new clubs and activities.  The school is also continually pursuing new options for its students.


At sloCAHS classes are held university-style.  Students attend classes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, leaving Tuesday and Thursday open to complete assignments at their own pace.  This flexible schedule allows students freedom to explore areas of interest and the independent work encourages them to become self-directed in their learning as they learn first-hand how to manage their time, study independently, and for those heading to college, adapt to a college-style schedule.  We believe these skills will play an important role as students continue in their learning in college and beyond.  



Our history and literature courses are combined into one class with credit given for each subject. In this integrated class, time is spent equally on history and literature, regularly reading texts with both historical and literary value, to provide an integrated, meaningful, and extensive study. This comprehensive approach includes history textbooks, primary source documents (diaries, speeches, letters, autobiographies, and articles), and literature from period authors (short stories, poems, and novels). Students internalize their learning and improve their academic skills through frequent Socratic discussions, written responses, essays, debates, and speeches. Students will leave this course with a solid knowledge and appreciation of the period history, geography, government and literature, and strengthened reading, writing, thinking, and public speaking skills.


Our innovative math courses will expose students to the world of mathematical puzzles and applications, which will develop their ability for abstract thought as well as their aptitude towards solving real-world problems. In these courses students will learn how to read standard and non-standard word problems, identify any missing information within them, and develop an approach toward a solution. Students will be able to write with mathematical precision and recognize certain mathematical tricks, tools and techniques that are often helpful to tackle problems where a solution is not quickly seen.


Building on a strong foundation of key concepts, students in our science courses  

become proficient at scientific investigation, increase their powers of observation, and develop accuracy in their thought and work. Regular hands-on demonstrations and laboratories engage student interest and reveal the wonder in the world and universe around them. In keeping with the focus of the Classical Academy, pupils also study the importance of science in the development of civilization, as well as practical implementations in daily life.    


In the Latin course, students better understand their own English language, as its vocabulary and grammar are based on those of Latin. Students also discover a whole world of archaeology, history, mythology, religion, and culture. Through understanding the Romans better, students gain an appreciation of their own history, law, government, and literature. Though Latin is no longer a commonly used language, it continues to play a role in vocabulary specific to science and law. Perhaps most significantly, it serves almost as a “laboratory language” which is very precise in its expression and consistent in its rules. The hard work students put into learning Latin brings rewards such as an expanded vocabulary, which may lead to higher verbal SAT scores; a foundation for learning a modern language, which will make learning Romance Languages easier; and honed critical thinking skills that will benefit them in whatever subjects they may study. For as students' understanding of the workings of language increases, so does their ability to think, speak, and write effectively.

We also have Spanish for those students interested in studying a modern language. 


Classical education addresses the whole person. Electives help develop individual areas of interest while also stimulating new pursuits, opening pathways that nurture a lifelong love of learning. Our Art courses are a prime examples of this meaningful enrichment as students learn to appreciate the skill and beauty in art as they have in prose.  In addition, in our Current Events elective course, students practice critical thinking by presenting news topics from various sources, discussing these topics, and connecting their knowledge with all that they have been learning in history. We have a life-skills focused elective called Beyond SLOCA. Students continue to work on their rhetorical skills through Speech and Debate.  Our vision list for future electives and clubs include mock trial, theater, and robotics.

We encourage the students to pursue their interests and gain positive leadership skills through the creating of new clubs.  Most notably is the Hanging Lantern Review, a literary club that seeks to encourage the art of writing through their blog, annual contest, and summer writing workshops.

For more information on the Hanging Lantern Review and details on the current writing contest (which ends tomorrow!) – 

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