Chicago Grammar School

About: Philosophy

Founder’s Vision

I believe that the overarching purpose of a school is to educate for understanding, flexibility of thought and the confidence to act on one’s talents. I want the education provided by CGS to allow our grown children to develop new technologies, lead others in a moral/ethical manner, direct films and musicals, recognize and finance innovative businesses, or write and implement public policy. In summary, I want an education that fosters active and ethical engagement with life and society. The achievement of this ambitious vision for our children’s future requires careful thought and implementation at the front-end—an elementary environment rich with experience in both the creative and scholastic spheres. This thinking has led me to integrate prime elements from the best of both traditional and progressive educational methods that span time and place. Using 18th Century refinements to the classical curriculum, current neuro-scientific breakthroughs, Italian education philosophy and Asian mathematics, CGS prepares our students for the challenges of a global 21st Century.

 

Maintaining Curiosity

Since birth our children have been learning at a phenomenal rate without the benefit of formal education. By way of a genetic imperative and curiosity, children have learned to walk, run, climb, speak and navigate interpersonal relationships with friends and family.

An observation I have made through the years is that, too often, the scholastic elementary school experience dampens the spirit and inherent wonder of the curious preschool mind. How so? Early elementary school introduces skills such as reading, writing, and math that are not innately acquired like language and running. For most children, rote memorization and drill are necessary to master the rudiments of these skills allowing automaticity and fluency. This can have a deadening effect on curiosity. The child’s interest in gaining relevant knowledge and understanding the world is replaced by the anxiety of “did I get the right answer?”  

The artful teacher ties the low-interest task to an outcome relevant to the child, thereby enabling the child to give the attention needed for the lesson to enter long-term memory. At CGS, the teacher’s effective use of what is relevant to a child is the key to maintaining both attention and curiosity in this highly academic program.

Why the Classical Model?

  • A classical education provides a broad, deep and integrated program of study across the spectrum of the curriculum, which stresses observation and experience as the primary sources of knowledge.
  • Experience fosters learning; learning creates knowledge. Learning is the link through which we construct knowledge through experience.
  • To the classical mind, all knowledge is interrelated. Therefore, the teaching of science, math, reading, history, and other subjects is optimally conducted in an integrated manner emphasizing such interrelatedness.