First, I highlight the fact that ours is a core knowledge program.
Nowhere in our schedule will parents see the array of time wasters that clutter a typical grade school curriculum, classes that range from the traditional Phys Ed, Home Ec, and Wood Shop to sundry modern incarnations like Tech Ed, Sex Ed, AOL (Awareness of Other Languages), and Conflict Resolution.
At VanDamme Academy, we do not regard all subjects as created equal. We are ruthlessly possessive of the school day, and will give time only to those subjects essential to the child’s development into an informed, intelligent, rational adult capable of making good judgments and leading a fulfilled life.
We teach them history, so that they learn on a grand scale the consequences of men’s ideas and actions, and can bring that understanding to bear on everything from their political opinions to their personal lives; we teach them great literature, so that they are introduced to an array of intriguing situations, masterfully drawn characters, and insightful world views, and can then face their own lives equipped with this wealth of knowledge and experience. We teach them science, so that they come to recognize their world as an orderly, law- governed place that can be harnessed for man’s welfare. We teach them math, so that they grasp the power of gauging, scaling, and measuring the physical world and appreciate the value of precise, logical thinking. We teach them the language arts, so that they become thoughtful, logical, articulate writers (which means thinkers), who can consider and express the knowledge they have gained with clarity and precision.
I then point out how the content of the classes differs radically from that of today’s schools.
We do not teach social studies, we teach history. Rather than a random assortment of facts, figures and dates that bore a child to tears and leave him always questioning, “Why do I have to know this?” we teach a purposeful and compelling story of mankind. As we present it, the story is integrated and causal and offers profoundly valuable moral lessons. So, the feeling of a VanDamme Academy graduate is, “How could anyone not know this?” . . .