Educational Principles

Training the Head, Hands and Heart

Education is more than the transference of knowledge, it is the transmission of values, culture, and the prompt ordering of loves.

–Ravi Jain & Kevin Clark

Liberal Arts

Classically educated students receive a rigorous training in math and science, literature and rhetoric, history and civics, theology and philosophy. Classical education centers on the tradition of the liberal arts, which set forth a holistic curriculum that cultivates virtue and trains the student to think freely with knowledge and wisdom. The word “liberal” means free, so the concept of the liberal arts is that students attain freedom through well-rounded knowledge in core subjects. 

Together, the liberal arts invite curiosity about the central questions of life: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? What is the good life? What do I owe others? Through studying the liberal arts, the student examines how others have responded to these questions throughout history, and the student builds a toolkit for answering these questions for himself or herself. 

The core subjects in the liberal arts are integrated, and students are not separated into separate academic fields or vocational tracks. Rather, the student who excels at math is encouraged to discover connections in music or botany. The student who prefers reading history and writing poems learns to flourish physically through mechanical arts and athletics. Ultimately, the liberal arts tradition trains the student to be an independent thinker and a life-long learner, and one who has cultivated the character to pursue any calling as a joyful, free, and virtuous adult. This is a tradition-al education that forms the whole person.

Trivium-based Learning

Language is the foundation of all other subjects, so the liberal arts begin with the trivium—Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. While Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric are taught as specific academic subjects, they are also three arts that order the progression of each academic subject in age-appropriate stages.

Grammar: Kindergarten to Grade 6

Students at this age experience wonder learning about the world as they encounter it. Through nature-based learning and multi-sensory activities like singing, chanting, memorization, hands-on projects, and storytelling, students learn the basic facts of every subject. This knowledge forms the foundation of learning in the Logic and Rhetoric grades.

Logic: Grades 7-9

Students in these grades are ready to ask questions and investigate how the world is put together. Logic students learn formal logic, explore the connections between subjects, and begin learning to express themselves logically. 

Rhetoric: Grades 10-12

Rhetoric students are formulating their own ideas, and they’re ready to take ownership of their education and prepare to participate meaningfully in the public sphere. They take advanced math and science classes, read challenging literature and primary sources, and work on complex projects that synthesize everything they’ve learned. As the capstone of their education, seniors present their senior thesis as a public speech on a topic of current concern, using all the arts of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. 


Mechanical Arts

The mechanical arts extend the cultivation of knowledge, virtue, and self-reliance to the physical world. Students will not only think for themselves, but also know how to work with their hands and cultivate the natural world, like navigating with a compass, growing a beautiful garden, and fashioning a sturdy table. Students will develop first-order knowledge of nature, and they will learn how to cultivate nature so that it flourishes under their care. Through this curriculum, students will grow in practical self-reliance, and they will learn to steward the physical world with wisdom and virtue. 

At BCA, the mechanical arts are both a way of learning and also a curriculum in and of itself. In the Grammar School, students will learn things like gardening and basic wilderness skills, and athletics. In Logic and Rhetoric grades, we hope to offer advanced mechanical arts options like shop class, mountaineering, or archery.

The original liberal art goals of grammar, logic, and rhetoric are augmented, perhaps daily with delight, with incarnated experiences.

–Chris Hall, Common Arts Education: Renewing the Classical Tradition of Training the Head, Hands and Heart

Fine Arts

Through the fine arts—such as music, painting, poetry, sculpture, architecture, theater, and dance— students learn to express timeless truth and mold the world around them with beauty and goodness. By learning to create objects of beauty, they imitate their Creator and participate in His creation.

In classes like art and music, students will begin by studying examples of excellent art, and their artistic skill will be honed through imitation. As students progress through history, literature, math, and science, their teachers will integrate lessons on complementary music, painting, sculpture, and architecture. Classrooms and campus décor will draw on uplifting and fine art throughout history and across cultures, so that students are edified by expressions of goodness, beauty, and truth. 

A typical day for Grammar students (K-6)

In the Grammar school, your student’s day is organized around forming habits, cultivating wonder, and building a rich foundation of knowledge across the subjects. 

Literature, history, Bible, and even science and math, are learned through storytelling, which fire up a child’s imagination while inviting them into the content that the story tells. Students will also learn through songs, chants, memorization, and multi-sensory lessons so that the whole body is engaged in the learning process. 

Students will spend time outdoors whenever possible. Through nature diaries, hands on activities, and mechanical arts like gardening, students encounter nature first-hand. With regular play breaks during class and dedicated play times outside of class, students will have space for critical social, physical, and cognitive development through supervised but unstructured play indoors and outdoors. In addition to play time, students will regularly have structured Physical Education class. And as the school grows, we plan to include more advanced options like athletics, archery, and wilderness skills. 

In K-2 in particular, students will be growing in daily habits at developmentally appropriate levels. As they progress to Grammar 6, they will work on virtuous habits of mind and behavior, such as fortitude, patience, and kindness. A typical school week will also include ecumenical Christian liturgies like reading Bible verses, singing, and praying together as a school or as a class. 

Students in the Grammar School will not receive traditional number or letter grades. Instead, teachers will assess students regularly for mastery and virtuous habits. Assessments are relationship-based, and they’re an important way we partner with parents through meaningful dialogue throughout the year about their student’s progress.