Proverbs 9:10 tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” At Tall Oaks, we know that if education does not stand upon the firm foundation of Biblical truth, the best results we can hope for are graduates who are well-read fools.
We also seek to apply the standards of God’s Word to the conduct of the students and the staff and their interactions with one another and with parents. Our goal is personal holiness, confession of sin, and the pursuit of wisdom—all humbly sought, knowing it is only by God’s grace that these blessings are granted.
We agree with the Scriptures that parents, not the school or the civil government, are ultimately responsible before God for the education of their children (Deut. 6: 4-9; Eph. 6: 1-4). Therefore, we see our role as assisting parents in that work. We provide communication between parents and teachers, and encourage a high level of parental involvement in our school. Our dedicated teachers love their students and are committed to the Kingdom-building work of assisting parents as they provide a Classical Christian education for their children.
Since the Middle Ages, the leaders who have shaped history have been classically educated. Many schools include, as we do, classical content, such as Latin, logic, and classical literature, and yet do not use classical methods of education. The classical method of instruction recognizes three levels of learning and thinking, together known as the Trivium. These three are the Grammar, the Dialectic, and the Rhetoric stages, corresponding to the Biblical terms knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
When we learn a new subject, we must first learn its grammar, that is, the basic facts and rules that form its foundation. At Tall Oaks, we emphasize the grammar of each subject from kindergarten through sixth grade, a time when children, because of their stage of development, enjoy memorizing information in chants, songs, and other repetitive activities. We teach spelling and reading with a strong phonics-based program that teaches the students why words are spelled the way they are. Our students learn to write by imitating good writing. They learn the foundations of mathematics, a basic chronology of history, English grammar, Latin (beginning in third grade), and a survey of the Bible.
When the grammar of a subject is learned, we can go on to the Dialectic Stage, in which we apply reason to the facts we have learned in order to see inter-relationships, understand cause and effect, and analyze arguments. Although we teach logical thinking and analytical reasoning at all ages, we emphasize these skills and teach formal logic and debate in the middle school years. We teach our students to construct good arguments and to detect fallacious ones. We seek to develop in students a Biblical worldview that is consistent with the truth that God reveals. Whether the subject being taught is mathematics, science, literature, geography, or the arts, we help our students develop an integrated understanding of God and His creation.
The capstone of a classical education is reached in the high school years when our students learn the rhetorical skills that allow them to master a subject and communicate it to others. They learn to conduct research, form their own conclusions, and effectively and persuasively communicate their understanding. The leaders of every field have reached this level of learning, which we call the Rhetoric stage. By the time our students reach high school, they are developmentally ready to begin formal training in rhetoric and to practice applying that training in all their subjects. We give them opportunities to hone their rhetorical skills through written work, including major theses in their junior and senior years, as well as oral presentations. They learn to defend their faith humbly and intelligently. They develop the confidence and skills they need to succeed in higher education or to tackle any subject they want or need to learn. They are equipped to be lifetime learners and leaders.
Sadly, much of modern education, both secular and religious, underestimates the breadth of basic information (grammar) that young children can learn, and it fails to elevate its students to the Dialectic or Rhetoric levels of learning and thinking.
The best advertisements for Tall Oaks are our students and our graduates. In a recent survey of Delaware area schools, published in Metrokids family magazine, Tall Oaks Classical School was among the highest in the three-year SAT average of all schools that were willing to report their scores. Ninety-eight percent of our graduates choose to go on to college and report that they are well prepared for higher education, often more so than their college classmates.