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Classical Curriculum - Upper School

Upper School students follow a traditional liberal arts and sciences sequence, with the primary focus on literature, mathematics, history, and science.


Literature explores the human condition in all its richness and variety. Students immersed in great books are better equipped to understand themselves well and to think critically about their culture. While literature has never figured into an official list of classical studies – the main ones being grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music – it has always been understood to form the basis of one’s self-understanding as part of a particular tradition, outlook, culture, or heritage. While the ancient Greeks did not list literature as a main study of school, for instance, all citizens read or at least knew of the great stories from Homer and Hesiod. The same argument applies today. In order to be an educated person, one who is self-aware and responsible, students must have more than passing familiarity with the great works of our tradition.

Students at Golden View Classical Academy are required to complete four years of literature, covering works from the ancient world to the present day.

In the classical curriculum, mathematics has always been understood as comprising two of the four main branches of study (arithmetic and geometry), the two others being astronomy and music. Mathematics is the study of patterns and relationships, and achieves the greatest degree of precision of which the human mind is capable. Human affairs, such as those studied in history, literature, and politics, are necessarily less clear. Even science, based as it is on acute observation of the natural world, is less precise. Mathematical precision is unique in directing students to the order and beauty inherent in nature, enabling them to abstract from the changeable world of perception to the unchangeable realm of ideas.

This classical view of mathematics also informs practical judgment, engineering, the sciences, and all other quantitative disciplines which students may choose to pursue, particularly because the emphasis on precision, order, beauty, and abstraction may be applied to both practical and theoretical matters.

Students at Golden View Classical Academy are required to complete Geometry and Algebra II, and must complete four full years of study in mathematics in order to graduate. The ordinary sequence leads students to complete Calculus as seniors.

At the beginning of his “Histories,” the first real history of which we know, the Greek writer Herodotus tells us that he conducts his “research so that human events do not fade with time,” and so that “great and wonderful deeds…do not go unsung.” In one of the foundational texts of western civilization, he proceeds to explain the rise and fall of the Persian empire. He “recount[s] cities both lesser and greater, since many of those that were great long ago have become inferior, and some that are great in my own time were inferior before. And so, resting on my knowledge that human prosperity never remains constant, I shall make mention of both without discrimination.”

History, then, is not a catalogue of events but a record of the rise and fall of cities and regimes. It is therefore of crucial importance in helping students accurately assess their own times with deep knowledge of the human condition and an awareness of the many alternatives from which to choose in leading their own lives.

Students at Golden View Classical Academy are required to complete four and a half years of history, beginning with the ancient world and ending with the present day.

Science is the study of the natural world and begins with our simple wonder about the way things are. It is simultaneously a method of investigation, habit of drawing correct inferences from data, and a body of knowledge accumulated over time. Crucially, the scientific perspective is self-critical, meaning it is open to new evidence as it arises, and new theories as they come to replace or sharpen what we think we know about nature.

Whereas math involves a great abstraction from nature to understand formal rules and laws, science requires an intimate awareness of and being with nature as it presents itself. Science therefore forms a student’s inductive intellectual habits and improves his or her judgement.

Students at Golden View Classical Academy are required to complete Biology and Chemistry, and must complete four full years of study in science in order to graduate.