From your south campus principal, Grant Bickell
“We are to form, them, the perfect orator, who cannot exist unless he is above all a good man. We require in him, therefore, not only a consummate ability in speaking, but also every excellence of mind.”
– Quintilian, institution oratoria
What is rhetoric? As a subject we may think of it like the public speaking courses we took in high school and college. Does that adequately describe what we, as classical educators, are trying to accomplish? Why do we end the trivium with speaking? Let’s dive in.
As a student passes through the stages of Grammar and Dialectic they are taught a bunch of facts and then taught how to order those facts in any number of different ways and how to weigh and value them based on a given topic. In the Rhetoric stage, we want your student to advance to the point to be able to speak winsomely about the topic at hand. We want the student to be virtuous, to love that which is true, good, and beautiful and to be able to stand and give conclusions to such items in clear and concise language. The student in this stage begins to understand what they love and what they do not love. By this time, many students are beginning to see what they want to study in college and beyond.
But they must be good. According to Quintilian, the perfect orator does not, cannot, exist unless he is a good man. He goes on to say, “A bad man cannot be a consummate orator, as he is deficient in wisdom.”
Hmm. Let’s turn that on its head. To be a good orator one must be wise. This is interesting. Does Quintilian mean to say that to be good is to be wise? Yes, I think he does. He means to bring us to the door of his thoughts on education and in doing so get us to understand that the rhetor must be virtuous. They must call upon the knowledge they have been given but they must also live life in a many worthy of respect. They must earn the right to speak and when given the right, they must speak well.
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Final Exams at The Academy
This year we are reconfiguring the way we manage final exams for all Dialectic & Rhetoric classes. While students will complete the semester with some sort of assessment (project or test), this assessment experience will follow the same pattern of assessment procedures used throughout the semester. We are transitioning from intensive testing procedures that entail 1-2 hour exams and require a complete restructuring of the last week of school. We believe that students retain information best if it is built upon in a cumulative manner without the presence of stress-induced situations that force intensive cramming. Research fully supports that depth of learning and lasting retention occurs most when students gradually develop deepening knowledge with continual opportunities to strengthen conceptual memory. We believe this new assessment practice will provide healthier opportunities in the school culture to deepen memory retention and deepen understanding of knowledge. This shift also provides more opportunity for class instruction time at the end of each semester. If you have questions about this shift in practice, I welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you further.
This month we are memorizing Romans 12:12 as part of our yearly study on the Fruit of the Spirit. If they memorize it and recite it to Mr. Bickell, they will receive 5 House Points.
Calendar for the rest of the semester