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Our View: Classical education is more than back to basics

January 28, 2019

Lake Havasu Unified School District is about to launch a big experiment at Oro Grande Elementary School. The school district plans to give the school a new approach to education, along with a new name, when school starts in the fall.

Oro Grande Academy will focus on a so-called “classical education,” or a pattern of learning that promotes critical thinking through language skills. The liberal arts curriculum is focused on math, science, history and language arts, followed by attention to music, art and foreign languages. Moral character and civic virtues are also heavily emphasized.

Subjects that have been ignored in schools for years are back. Latin, for example, is introduced in the third grade.

Interestingly, the curriculum looks an awful lot like the kinds of schooling many readers of a certain age may have received, before schools turned their attention to things like standardized testing and unpopular classroom standards. And It’s hard not to like a teaching program that aims to build character in students.

However, we caution Lake Havasu City schools from moving too quickly. The first year of the classical learning environment has been an exciting success, and it’s easy to want to move quickly, but it’s not clear how the new learning methods will affect students on things like test scores, and transitions from campuses.

We suspect school administrators have thought of these things, and have confidence that students in the classical program will actually be better prepared to tackle such challenges, not worse off. Indeed, there are always lots of questions whenever something new and untested is around the corner. Fortunately, the school district is offering parents a glimpse of what classical education is all about in just a couple of weeks.

You can find out more about the inner workings of a classical education at 6 p.m. on Feb. 6, when Robert Jackson, chief academic officer of Great Hearts Academy, will speak at Lake Havasu High School’s Little Theater. Jackson will describe what makes a classical education unique and why parents and families reportedly are clamoring for this option in public education. Luckily for parents, it won’t be in Latin.

— Today’s News-Herald

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