ABOUT GENEVA ACADEMY

What's In A Name? 
Why "Geneva Academy"?

In 1848 Rev. Dr. J. B. Johnston started Logan County's first classical Christian school in what was then called Northwood (just north of Bellefontaine). Beginning with a few students in his study, the school eventually grew into Geneva Hall, which later became Geneva College. The school provided a solid Christian education for several years before and after the Civil War. In 1879 the college left Logan County and moved to Beaver Falls, PA.  

Since our aim is to restore and rebuild Classical Christian education in our community, we honor those who came before us and laid the original foundation. 

A unique model of education built on three pillars. 
Geneva Academy is a Classical, Christian, and Collaborative academy which is thoroughly rooted in Christ, carefully cultivated in the classical tradition, and lovingly nurtured by a partnership between school and the home. 
Pillar I: Christian

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord," Ephesians 6:4

Secular education has sought to educate children with a curriculum that is wholely without reference to God. But if the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then any true education must be done Coram Deo--before the face of God. Therefore, our curriculum, our teachers, and our classroom practices will be guided by the underlying presupposition that all truth is God’s truth, and that all of reality must be seen through the lens of his revealed Word. 

When Paul admonishes parents to bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord, the Greek phrase is Paideia of God. The ancient concept of paideia is an all-encompassing enculturation of a future citizen. Providing this Paideia of God involves far more than adding a bible class and chapel to an otherwise secular model of education. It means that every aspect of the school's curriculum, pedagogy, and culture must be fully rooted in and interpreted through scripture. Students will see that every aspect of their education is for God's glory, including math, science, reading, writing, history, geography, grammar, Latin, logic, rhetoric, art, and music. Every field of study finds its source in God and reveals various aspects of his character and nature through its study.

Therefore, the scriptures are brought to bear on every class, not just Bible class. 

PIllar 2: Classical

Classical education is a new twist on an old model of education that began with the Greeks and Romans of antiquity and was further developed and purified by the great universities during the Christian centuries. Built on the seven Liberal Arts, classical education produced the greatest philosophers, mathematicians, scientists, orators, statesmen, literary artists, and citizens in history.

But beginning in the 19th century, the framers of the new public school system began developing and implementing a new "progressive" approach to educating children based on modern psychological theories. The progressive model dispensed with the well-tested and time-honored classical tradition in favor of a more experimental approach. The transition from classical learning to progressive education was slow, and the last generation to receive a classical education included notable figures such as C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkein, G. K. Chesterton, and Dorothy Sayers. In 1847, Dorthy Sayers delivered an essay at Oxford entitled "The Lost Tools of Learning," in which she lamented the failures of progressive education and implored a return to the classical model. 

One of her chief concerns was that "although we often succeed in teaching our pupils "subjects," we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think. They learn everything except the art of learning." That is the essential difference between modern education and classical education. While progressive education is concerned to teach children what to think, classical education is concerned to teach children how to think.

The best way to achieve this, noted Sayers, was to abandon the experimental progressive methods and return to the medieval trivium, which is a Latin expression meaning "the three roads," and refers to the first three of the classical liberal arts.      

The Trivium and the Tools of Learning

The Trivium consists of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. The trivium was to be completed and mastered before moving on to the quadrivium, the last four of the liberal arts. Rightly understood, these are not merely academic subjects to be studied and passed (as in 1credit of grammar, 1 credit of logic, and 1 credit of rhetoric); they are the very arts of learning. Mastering the trivium is a process of forging and learning to handle the tools of learning, which would enable him to go on learning any new subject he should desire or be called upon to take up.  


Grammar-- While grammar includes the principles and rules of language, it also has a broader meaning which includes the basic principle or rules of any art, science, or technique. Whenever we endeavor to learn a new subject, the first thing we must do is come to terms with the basic vocabulary, concepts, principles, and rules that are relevant to it. In other words, we must learn the grammar of that subject. This operable tool of learning in grammar is a mind fitted for accumulating and memorizing information.

Logic--After memorizing a large body of accumulated facts, the student must learn how these facts relate to one another. This involves the art and science of reasoning. By studying formal logic and developing dialectical habits of mind, a student will be able to reason clearly and precisely, while also learning to recognize errors is reasoning. This requires a mind capable of abstract thought and sharpened to make fine distinctions in its thinking.   

Rhetoric--Having accumulated a large body of knowledge and learned the art of logic and dialectic thinking, the student must learn to synthesize new ideas and communicate them with others. Rhetoric is the art of articulating one's ideas, both in writing and in speech, in a way that is winsome and persuasive. 

Every time we endeavor to learn a new subject, we must go through this process of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. That is why they are the tools of learning--because having acquired and mastered them, we can apply them to any subject we desire. We see in our own day the high degree of specialization that occurs in education, so that upon graduation one has acquired a great depth of learning, but in the most narrow field of study. That is why one is a self described "math person," while the other is an "history person," and never shall the two have any meaningful discourse on the other's field of expertise. But a truly classical education is the kind of broad, liberal study that produced the "renaissance man," one who is proficient and skilled in a broad array of skills and disciplines. 

But the revival of classical learning is not merely a return to the middle ages. It is the application of the medieval trivium in a modern context. It is obvious from observing children, and even from our own experiences of having once been children, that they progress through different stages of development and learning. The classical model cuts with the grain of the child and teaches them the tools of learning that most applicable in their stage of learning.

This Stages of Learning

 

Poll-Parrot Stage--During the first stage of learning, which roughly corresponds to the elementary years, learning by heart is easy and even pleasurable, while reasoning is difficult and often frustrating. Children have a seemingly endless capacity to memorize bits of useful information, especially if set to a tune or a change. What's more, it doesn't much matter to them if what they're memorizing and reciting makes any sense. In fact, the more arcane and obscure, the more they seem to enjoy it. 

This is the perfect stage to forge and learn to handle the tool of grammar. In this stage children can memorize and accumulate a large body of knowledge about every subject of study. Multiplication tables, parts of speech, the periodic table of elements, a timeline of historical events and people, and even places and geographical features of the map. A first-grader would have much more delight in memorizing the periodic table of elements or the parts of anatomy than a high school chemistry or biology student. Why not take advantage of the way God made them and do what is naturally enjoyable for them? 

  

The Pert Stage--Roughly during the middle school year--students become naturally argumentative. They're more curious about abstract concepts and like to dispute with their friends and family. This is a perfect time to teach the art of the dialectic, or the art of logic and reasoning. If they want to argue, let's teach them to reason and argue well. They're capable of understanding discussing the implications of everything they've learned to this point. They can conceptualize the meaning of the periodic table of elements, and they can comprehend the complex relationships between the people and events in world history they've studied. They can learn to analyze the great ideas that have been advanced throughout the ages and how they have impacted us today. They can learn to be precise in their reasoning and to detect fallacies in others' arguments. This is a vitally important tool to have in a world in which we are continually bombarded with propaganda. 

 

As Sayers notes: "For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects

The Poetic Stage--During the high school years, students are naturally expressive. They want to express themselves, their ideas, and their opinions. As in the other stages, we take advantage of this natural tendency and teach them the art of Rhetoric, which is the ability to write and speak in such a way that is articulate, precise, persuasive, and winsome. Now, having accumulated a large body of knowledge in the grammar stage, and having learned the art of reasoning and analysis in the dialectic stage, students will be prepared to synthesize what they've already learned into new theses and communicate them to the world. 

Having completed the study of the Trivium, a student will be "fully educated," as one is never fully educated. But he will be equipped with the tools of learning that will enable him to go on learning the rest of his life, whatever subjects may be of interest to him or may be necessary for him.     

Pillar III: Collaborative

This pillar is closely connected to the first pillar of our Christian identity. 

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord," Ephesians 6:4

"These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." Deut. 6:9

The admonition to educate children is given to parents, not to the state or any other sphere of society. That is because, in God's social design, the family is the primary building block of society and must remain the primary sphere of influence for children. Parents have the ultimate authority and bear the ultimate responsibility for the education of their children. In addition, the education, training, and discipleship of children are to take place, as much as possible, in the context of the home. 

 

Because of this foundational principle, Geneva Academy represents a truly unique model of education that consists of a collaboration and a partnership between the school and the family. In our collaborative model, students attend school 2-3 days per week and receive instruction from qualified Christian teachers. The other days will be spent at home working through the assigned lesson plans. For younger students, parents will act as a tutor, guiding them through the lessons prepared by their teachers. For older students, parents will act as a mentor, as students are more independent and engaged in higher-level reading, studying, and writing. 

In this way, parents receive the best of both worlds: qualified Christian teachers, and quality time at home to strengthen family interaction. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to learn more about the Classical and Christian approach? Check out our Recommended Resources