The underlying philosophy of The Geneva School of Manhattan is the time-proven method of classical learning.
In basic terms, "classical" refers to the classical period of the Greek and Roman civilizations, from which we obtained ancient teaching in mythology, art, architecture, and languages. Classical education has produced the greatest thinkers, leaders, and scientists in the Western world from the time of the Greeks until the late nineteenth century, including America’s founding fathers. Classical training in literature, Latin, history, and rhetoric was the norm until the twentieth century, when a gradual shift to a progressive model eroded the stalwart foundation of classical learning.
In the last decade, classical learning has reemerged as educators have spoken out about the merits of the classical method. This method uses the trivium (meaning "three roads") as the dynamic means of training students to think in an orderly, reasonable, and godly manner about all of learning and all of life. Brilliantly befitting the natural stages of child development, the three-phase model aligns itself with these stages in the following ways:
Grammar phase Students are taught the fundamentals of learning through memorization, rhyme, and song. The fundamental elements provide the framework for all future academic building blocks.
Typically, children at this stage love to learn and memorize facts and information. The classical approach allows children to take advantage of this natural ability, learning through playful experiences, creative performances, and the memorization of facts through songs, rhymes and jingles. Geneva School children love to sing, dance, and clap out history timelines, science facts, Bible verses, and grammar rules. Through teaching the fundamental principles of language, mathematics, science, history, French, Bible, chess, and the finearts, students learn to think critically, write clearly, and begin to speak convincingly.
Logic or Dialectic phase Students engage in critical thinking and learn the fine points of logical argument and reasoning.
Sixth through Eighth Grade students begin to form strong opinions and often have a genuine urge to argue. This is a hallmark of the logic stage of classical education, in which teachers encourage students to argue, debate, and engage critical thought. Students draw from facts and work toward applying knowledge, historical context, and the fine points of logic. Students engage primary sources for research, and formal debate is a part of the Upper School curriculum. Using the Socratic method to engage students, teachers encourage debate and crticial thinking. Classes are taught from an interdisciplinary approach with an emphasis on how subjects relate to each other. Within this learning environment, students discover their own specific passions, talents, and potential.
Rhetoric phase Students further develop their use of grammar and logic in order to articulate their opinions clearly and persuasively.
Grades Ninth through Twelfth at Geneva School is more than polish. It seeks to deepen core subjects, broaden them, show their interrelatedness and alignment with a fast-moving world. The goal is wisdom and eloquence. Listening well leads to communicating well; this combination fosters goodwill and civility. To this end, we seek to prepare students who are comfortable in their own skin and extend that comfort to others. We desire to match form and content so that our students know how to appreciate and articulate the contours of life from tragedy to comedy and everything in between. More importantly, we desire that our students know transcendent truths in a multicultural world so that they may be good and seek the common good of others. Undergirded by an ever-deepening understanding of their identity in Christ, students acquire skills for a lifetime and are prepared to become leaders in scholarship, virtue, and faith.
We seek to use this time-tested method in order for our students to not only understand Jerusalem, Athens, Rome or London, nor to merely hear words like goodness, truth, beauty, justice, liberty, equality, but also to rightly appropriate universal truth to their own lives and in their own city.
At The Geneva School of Manhattan, we place a special emphasis on our students’ ability to read great books for themselves and to evaluate, question, discuss, present, debate and—yes—teach based on their own ability and curiosity. This is initiated through The Great Books reading groups that start in Kindergarten and come to its full consummation when our Eighth Grade students defend their thesis papers at our annual Cicero’s Podium.
In keeping with the classical method, we integrate subjects of history, literature, language, mathematics, science, art, and music. With this integration of classical method and robust curriculum, our students become apt communicators and acquire a love of learning.
Finally, and most importantly, we are not only a classical school but also a Christian school. This means, very simply, that theology (the things of God and his Word) serve as “eye-glasses” to our students so that they look at their lessons, their classes, and their world with reasonable faith and a love for God and mankind.