As a Christian parent in the Savannah area, you can choose from a variety of educational alternatives for your child. We think you should consider applying to the Veritas Academy, but not until you have considered why it may or may not be a reasonable choice. Veritas is not for everyone, yet we believe that it could be for most anyone. Some parents will recognize in Veritas Academy an education like the one they wish they had received—and, perhaps, like the one that their parents or grandparents did receive. What Veritas offers is quite simply:
I. A rigorous reading program.
At the heart of our curriculum is our history and literature reading program. Our students begin modestly with phonics in kindergarten, and then in earnest in 1st grade. By the end of 1st grade they are reading "chapter books" and are ready to begin the coordinated history/literature reading program.
Veritas grammar school students study history in the following sequence:
1st and 2nd grade — World Geography and Western Civilization
3rd and 4th grade — U.S. History
5th and 6th grade — Western Civilization
The distinctive genius of the Veritas program is that our students spend six years reading history and literature books that correspond to the period and place being studied. The following types of books, numbering in the dozens are coordinated to the time line:
Read-alouds (mostly fiction), History, biography, and Literature.
Our students learn history not primarily through studying history texts, but through reading (and having read to them) top-notch works of fiction, non-fiction, and biography. At the same time they are exposed to the science, art, music, architecture, and literature of the civilizations they study.
This is a six-year course in the humanities, the likes of which most of us did not see until college, if ever. The relationship between ideas and culture are explored (in age appropriate ways) beginning in the 1st grade and with increasing complexity though the 6th grade. Throughout the grammar school curriculum, the superiority of traditional Western, Christian, democratic civilization is affirmed, while multiculturalism and moral relativism are refuted. With this background they enter the tumultuous middle-school years, at which point our students are immersed in the rigors of the dialectic phase of the classical curriculum. Reading and memory work continue, but now they are taught to analyze and interpret what they are learning in the light of God's revealed truth.
In effect, there is nowhere else in Savannah where parents can send their children to receive this kind of education. Nowhere else will they read as much outstanding children's literature. Nowhere else will their literature class reading be as carefully coordinated with their historical studies. Nowhere else will they study as comprehensively the leading events and personalities of history, science, art, music, and literature. Nowhere else will they be guided through this process with as thorough a commitment to Christian and Western values.
II. A demanding memorization program.
Classical pedagogy asserts that each subject has its "grammar." Language has letters and parts of speech; math has numbers; history has names, events, and dates. But the "grammar" of any given field can be known only by memorization. Thus, it is fair to say that the foundation of all learning is memorization. One either knows one's numbers and letters or one doesn't. One either recognizes the letter "Q", the number "5", or the name "Abraham Lincoln" when one encounters them or one doesn't.
We regard memory as a "muscle" that is strengthened only by repetitive exercise. So, both in class and at home, Veritas students memorize letters, numbers, words, names, events, dates, as well as songs, poems, speeches, and statements. By extensive memorization of facts, students are prepared to discourse on broad ranges of subjects. By committing great literature to memory they equip themselves with rich verbal resources.
All of this will seem unremarkable to those educated in America's "grammar" schools of fifty years ago. Today, however, most schools have abandoned the time-tested emphasis on memorization. No other school in Savannah offers such an emphasis. Only at Veritas will your child be exposed to the "whole sweep" of human history and be expected to recognize the main events, people and dates. Only at Veritas will they memorize so many of the "great words" that have shaped our world.
III. Latin for elementary ages.
Latin is the seminal language of Western Civilization and of the academic world. Theology, law, philosophy, history, biology, medicine Latin are codified by Latin terminology. Fifty percent of the English language has Latin roots. Latin is the root of all modern "Romance" languages (Spanish, French, Flemish, Italian). The study of Latin engages students in the influential writings of important classical authors such as Cicero and Virgil. Latin opens the door to the study of Greek, the original language of the New Testament.
Because Latin is an orderly, logical language, its study breeds an orderly, logical mind. Most educated people for the past 2000 years studied Latin. Why would anyone desiring a complete education not consider studying Latin at an early age, when language acquisition comes easily?
IV. A Christian worldview.
Many Christian schools offer a Bible class, many teach Christian morals and maintain strict discipline, but very few teach every academic discipline from the perspective of Christian truth. At Veritas our aim is to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). Our students learn, for example, that Protagoras claimed that "Man is the measure of all things;" that Freud believed that human behavior is a result of hidden and subconscious drives for which we are not responsible; and that the paintings of Jackson Pollock and music of John Cage reflect an embrace of the absurd. But then they learn to evaluate such claims in the light of God's unchanging revelation. Our goal is to educate students to think Christianly about everything, to develop what Harry Blamires called The Christian Mind.
V. Trustworthy, Christian teachers.
Five days a week parents turn over their children to the safe-keeping of teachers and administrators who, in loco parentis, nurture their eager young minds. If it is true that American school children typically spend one-third to one-half of their waking hours away from home then it is likewise true that their teachers and peers have nearly as great an opportunity to mold them as do their parents.
Veritas teachers are adult members of the covenant community who join with families to educate the children of that community. Parents know and have confidence in our teachers; they share the same theological convictions and educational views. Children know and respect their teachers. Teachers love the children. While no faculty is flawless, our families are able to wave goodbye to their children with confidence and peace of mind. The teachers are trusted, beloved, capable, known members of the covenant community.
VI. A condensed school day allowing for parental involvement & a relaxed pace of life.
Even with the most qualified and trustworthy teachers however, we are convinced theologically that parents are responsible for the education of their children (Deuteronomy 6:6,7; Ephesians 6:1-4). It is not only a responsibility; it is a tremendous privilege. Among life's greatest joys is being with one's child at the dawn of intellectual discovery, when the proverbial light goes on. These are the joys that we are not willing to miss by institutionalizing them all day long.
Through the Veritas read-aloud program our families read together over 140 books during the seven elementary years, an average of 20 per year. During the same period they conduct "home chapel" daily and, in the process, read books of the Bible, learn 63 Psalms and hymns, and memorize a number of great texts of Scripture. Understanding how difficult it is to assemble active families for prayer and read-alouds, we at Veritas support our parents in requiring these key home-based activities — like eating meals. To make them easier to implement, we provide a structured format for "home chapel" and a reading list for family reading. Finally, and not insignificantly, we provide extra family time, by limiting the institutional school day to only four hours. We know of no other school that holds these convictions, or makes such provisions.
How and Why We're Different
Some parents, however, may still have questions or concerns regarding our philosophy and methodology. Some of these concerns surround our belief in the following specific areas:
I. High emphasis on comprehensive reading.
We believe that no single activity is more certain to ensure your child's future academic success than reading. Similarly, the experts say that reading aloud to your children is one of the most valuable activities for furthering their mental development. Our reading lists are long — not too long — but long. A consistent daily reading hour is essential if your student is to keep pace.
II. High emphasis on memorization.
We believe that thoughtful, creative, productive minds, and critical thinking abilities, are built on the strong foundation of memorization skills. These memory skills are developed and sharpened by exercise and usually are easier to start building at a younger age. History teaches us that thoughtful and creative people have usually become so by gaining knowledge through memorization.
III. High emphasis on personal, face-to-face, human interaction in education.
Many educators and parents see computers as the key to success in this information age. Many schools boast about the number of computers available for student use. We have none. We are not opposed to computers. Some of us use them heavily. We thank God for the marvels of email and the internet. Nonetheless, we believe that computers teach nothing, that the medium is often substituted for the message in educational applications of computers and, finally, that personal computers and software are so easy to use and so prone to obsolescence that we choosecnot to use valuable class time teaching how to use them.
IV. A growing enrichment program.
Larger schools offer musical instruction, physical education, organized athletics, clubs and other enrichment opportunities. Veritas currently offers less in this regard than most schools. Although we believe that such activities can be valuable components in a child's education, our focus is on the core academic curriculum. A typical Veritas student studies a musical instrument, sings in a choir, and participates in some other organized activity such as sports, ballet or scouting. They do so, however, outside of and supplemental to their academic work. The main task of the Veritas Academy is to teach the academic core curriculum. Extra curricular activities can be truly rewarding, but they are extra curricular. Veritas continues to offer afternoon art, music and drama classes for those desiring this kind of enrichment. We also offer competitive athletic programs at the middle school level. We will continue to develop our enrichment opportunities but they will always remain subservient to our academic core.
V. The topic of "excellence."
We believe that respect for every person on this planet is required of us by our Creator and that it is our duty and joy to love our neighbors. But we do not teach that all cultures or all ideas have equal merit. Indeed, principles of tolerance and respect are themselves best understood from the perspective of the Judeo-Christian tradition. We unashamedly carry a Western bias in our curriculum. ("Multiculturalism" is, of course, a Western invention, but, ironically, one that despises it own roots.) Like those who went before us in the history of Western education, we seek the universitas rather than the diversitas.
VI. The Reformed doctrines of faith.
Our view is that the Christian faith, particularly as understood by Reformed Protestantism, should be the "lens" through which we view all of the academic disciplines. As history's people and movements have commented on ultimate origins, human nature, the problem of evil, the meaning and purpose of life, personal ethics, social ethics, and so on, we evaluate them and their ideas on the basis of Christian truth, as revealed to us in the Bible. We believe that even if you do not share all of our views, we serve you best not by teaching as though all views were equally plausible, but by teaching from a particular perspective. If you expect the classroom to be religiously "neutral," Veritas is not for you. We are convinced that those who profess religious "neutrality" in the classroom unintentionally (or intentionally) support secular humanism and discourage a vigorous pursuit of truth.