R. Heath McClure
Heath is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (B.A.) and has been teaching for 12 years at the preschool to 6th grade level. Prior to joining Spring Hill Academy he taught at what is now The Classical Academy of Franklin for 9 years.
He is an ordained minister, a musician, and a lover of good books. He is also an independent vocal artist who can be heard narrating audio books. Heath and his wonderful wife Shannon have 4 beautiful children: Jenny, Jack, Abby, and Nate. Heath and his family are members of St. John's Anglican Church in Franklin, TN.
I have been richly blessed watching the students thrive at Spring Hill Christian each year. ;The new Literature program has brought a love of reading to our children. It has been astounding to hear the children recite their math and history chants and hear all the facts they have been learning as they study the Old Testament. I could not be more pleased with the happy and content little faces that are consistently being stretched academically and spiritually. A few of you have expressed the same joys and have asked, “So, I love the results. What are you doing different? Why did we go classical?
SHC was founded in 2004 by Perry and Patsy Coghlan. Their youngest two children were educated at classical schools and were amazed at the results. Both Thomas and Abigail have not only grown in their appreciation of classic literature, visual arts, and language, they have been taught how to stretch themselves to their highest academic potential. Also, they have not just learned information and facts, they have learned how to look at and think about all they learn through the lens of Scripture and through the eyes of others who have a Christian world and life view.
Good classical teaching and learning is done in three stages.
The first is the Grammar stage which typically is kindergarten through third grade.
During this stage of growth and learning children, as you know, can memorize anything! They hear a commercial or song just a few times and can dictate it back to you. We take advantage of this by learning lots of chants, rhymes and songs and memorizing lots of helpful information. This sound like tedious work, but for these young children it is easily done and a joy to them. We also integrate lots of learning projects. For example, the second graders will read the Boxcar Children and design a (nearly) life-size Boxcar to have in the classroom. The first graders will memorize facts about George Washington and make Johnny Cakes like the President had eaten every day at 9:00. The kindergartners will memorize the books of the Bible and do a puzzle to put them in the right order. They will memorize an unbelievable amount of information. To them, however, it’s not difficult because of the way they were created. God made young children with the capacity to learn huge amounts of information if we do two things: (1) convince them they are loved and, (2) have lots and lots of fun while learning! There will be less seatwork during the week. We will be doing far more singing and chanting, far more projects, and far more interactive learning. We will also be reading a wide variety of classic literature, (I.e. Frog and Toad, Little House on the Praire, The Chronicles of Narnia), putting an emphasis on Biblical integration and teaching them to become better writers. Having been exposed to a number of writing styles (mystery, fantasy, fiction, non-fiction, fairy tale, and myth), our students will develop a love for reading and an appreciation for good literature.
The Second stage is the Logic Stage.
This stage is generally grades fourth – eighth. At this stage, children are inquisitive. They ask questions, they ask themselves, “Who am I?”. They enjoy catching their elders in inconsistencies and pointing them out. They are easily influenced and start to relate to each other. Relationships are a major part of this stage. It is at this stage that we incorporate the facts the students have learned and teach them how relate facts (and untruths) to each other. For example, why were the books of the Bible written in that order? Why was George Washington the first president under the Constitution but Peyton Randolf the first president before the Constitution? How are all these subjects related?
The Rhetoric stage, high school aged -students, is the third stage of learning.
This stage focuses on application. Those of you with teenagers at home know that they love to argue, they want to express themselves, and they have almost fully grown into the personality that will be a part of their adulthood. During this stage of learning, classical educated students learn how to debate, how to prove their point, and be confident in doing so. “They will write an essay in History as easy as if it were an English paper.” (Doug Wilson, Lost Tools of Learning p. 100). It is our vision that, with these tools of learning, our students will go out into the world as great thinkers that love to learn and seek to always reach their full potential in every area of life to the glory of God and His Kingdom. As you can see,Classical education focuses on developing godly character and a knowledgeable, mature mind.
Please call me at the school if you have any questions or email me and I will get back with you promptly.
R. Heath McClure