Frequently Asked Questions
Some the most common questions and answers are below. If you can't find the information you need on our website and have a question not answered here, please contact us.
What are three challenges that are most common to home schooling?
Parental Worries. Parents worry that they are not getting everything done or that they are not doing enough.
Struggling to recognize the paradigm shift from focusing on content to focusing on skills.
Scheduling - Parents either fail to make a schedule, or feel like a failure if they don't stick to a schedule. It is important to create a schedule, and also to be flexible with the schedule when appropriate.
If you incur any of the above challenges, don't worry - they are natural.
Why do you have mixed age classrooms?
Adult life, the work place, place of worship, and leisure activities are not typically sorted by age. Age separation is, therefore, not preparing children for the real world.
Mixed age classrooms present numerous opportunities for leadership. Older children are given daily chances to practice their leadership skills by assisting in the instruction of the younger children (with teacher oversight, of course).
Mastery of any subject comes with the teaching of it to others. Mixed age classrooms allows older children to master their school studies by assisting in the teaching of the younger children.
Younger children are presented with older models that they look up to.
Mixed age classes create many more opportunities for one on one instruction from the teacher.
Teachers enjoy mixed age classes because it adds variety and reduces problems typical in an age sorted classroom (undue competition, pettiness, all students struggling with the same developmental issue dragging each other down etc.)
See also "Age Segregation in School: Isn't it natural for children to be divided by age in school?" by Karl M. Bunday.
Is the School of the Seven Sages religious?
No, however, we realize that all living things are created by the divine and thus possess a spiritual aspect. Education should support each person's unfolding individuality without any religious dogma. We honor and respect various spiritual traditions while at the same time educating students about cultures from around the world. There is a method to teaching someone how to be a good student, and many people can often describe what traits a good student should exhibit. We seek to teach children these traits so that they will excel in any profession they choose. That is, the school teaches someone how to succeed at any career they choose. Similarly, The School of the Seven Sages teaches that it is important to be religious, while at the same time leaving the choice of religion up to the student and his or her family.
Why are there cameras in the classrooms?
Cameras are used in the classrooms for a couple reasons. First, and most importantly, we use them as a way to ensure safety of the children. Secondly, we use cameras and video recordings as a way to continually improve our teachers and to develop school wide best practices. Lastly we use cameras to demonstrate to current and potential parents the events in the classroom. You are always free to have your child's image (or work) excluded from the public domain - simply check the appropriate box on the Photo Release form available from the teacher or administrator.
Why are computers and T.V.'s excluded from the grammar classrooms with only limited use until 9th grade? Doesn't this hamper students in an ever increasingly technology based world?
The School of the Seven Sages teaches students to solve problems themselves. If technology is implemented too early, it can become a crutch whereby students rely on computers to solve problems for them. We want students to make technology serve them, rather than technology dictate that students serve it. Besides, technology is changing so fast that whatever technology is learned in the lower grades will likely be out dated when students need it later. We are more concerned about teaching timeless truths. This means training children to solve problems rather than training them to utilize current computer software and systems that will soon be obsolete. This approach creates a healthier base from which the child can grow while staying more grounded. Once a solid foundation is established, the student understands key concepts, the student can grasp the logic around certain modalities, and the student understands when best to employ specific tools, then, and only then is the student prepared to utilize technology to enhance learning. In this way, a student can make technology work for their benefit.
Some schools are beginning to implement technology as a means of teaching. That is, in our public schools technology is beginning to replace the role of a teacher. While this might be helpful for public schools facing budget constraints, it is not optimal for the child. One on one education is always the best policy. By its very nature, teaching technology is being implemented as a means to educate the masses. It is, therefore, exactly opposite to the optimal personalized one on one instruction that a human teacher can provide. Can a computer really understand the whole person, his thought processes, his personal history, his attitude of the year/week/day/minute? Granted, a human teacher probably doesn't ever understand everything either, but there is a lot of human insight which computers are far from grasping. This insight can allow human teachers to discern if a student fully understands a given concept and its applications. With a computer, the pupil is more inclined to simply memorize the facts to pass a computerized test.
See also "A Silicon Valley School that Doesn't Compute" by Matt Richtel, New York Times, Oct 22, 2011.
Note that there are a few exceptions to the forgoing. As a fun activity to inspire students in understanding logic as it relates to programming, 5th grade students at The School of the Seven Sages are taught how to program Sphero. Additionally, parents are encouraged to use their own discernment at home. A little technology here and there might be helpful especially for the parents as long as it is not used as a form of neglect (which is unfortunately so often the case in our modern culture).
What happens when my child finishes the 4th grade?
If a student finishes their 4th grade material during the course of the school year prior to that year ending, the student will continue with their studies in that given topic at the next level (starting 5th grade math for example). At the end of the 4th grade year, all qualified students progress to the logic age classroom. In the fall of the student's 5th grade year he or she will be assigned to a new classroom with new classmates who are also in the logic stage of development.
Why do children in grades 1-4 memorize so much material if you are training them to be independent thinkers and problem solvers?
Memorization is a way of training the mind that has been employed for thousands of years. It is only one skill that is taught in a classical education. Focus should be on the skills students are acquiring during their education rather than on the content. By developing their skills, students are better prepared for life long learning.
Why do you teach Latin and recommend classical languages?
The following is adapted from "Teaching Classical Languages at Home" by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn.
Latin is basic to English. Over half of the English vocabulary comes from Latin. Latin, therefore, develops English vocabulary and grammar while improving pronunciation.
Students who take Latin score higher on standardized tests (140-160 points higher on the SAT for example).
Latin is a spring board to other languages including: Greek, German, and other Romance languages like Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian. Romance languages have approximately 80% of their vocabulary derived from Latin.
The study of Latin sharpens mental processes. It is like a mental exercise.
Everything in a culture is embedded in its language. This is true for ancient Rome, but also our own culture. Therefore, the study of Latin makes other subjects within that culture easier.
Technological languages are Latin including medical, legal and scientific.
Latin is valuable for advanced studies in all disciplines including history, literature, theology, art, and architecture.
Latin is useful in English so much so that it is used on a daily basis. Therefore, Latin is not easily forgotten to English speakers who use it often.
The study of Latin is a systematical approach to language, in much the same way that public schools have developed a systematical approach to math (basic numbers, followed by basic number operations, algebra, geometry, calculus, etc.) By learning Latin in the systematical way required, the same system can be applied by the student to not only improve their English skills, but also to learn new languages at any point during their lifetime. [This last item is original content and does not appear in the source cited above.]
We recommend learning classical languages in the following order of priority: Classical Latin, Koine Greek, Hebrew, and Sanskrit. If you are going to train your student to learn only one, Classical Latin is by far the best choice for English speakers as outlined above. However, the other 3 classical languages all played a very important role in the development of the English language over time. There are several important works authored in each of these languages that will further assist the student in gaining wisdom and improving their person. The goal of learning any classical language is to be able to read an important classical work written in its native language. This goal is usually achievable after 6-7 years of hard work and study.
Why do you require music electives through the 4th grade even for children with no musical talent or interest?
For thousands of years, music has been utilized as a way to train the mind in the expression of sound. Students have different abilities in all subjects, but they need to have a basis in key areas. Music relates to sound over time and is thus mathematical. The study of music can create an appreciation of other fine arts later in life. Music can help the mind and body to relax and by learning to play an instrument one trains the mind to focus and let go. Playing music requires the use of both hands (and sometimes feet) simultaneously. By training the body to use both parts of the brain at the same time, you are training the pupil to think differently than our modern left brain oriented society. Thus, music inspires creativity and original thought. Studies have shown that students who play an instrument are less likely to get into serious trouble later in life and more likely to excel at school. Music training increases I.Q., focus, and persistence.
See also, "A Musical Fix for American Schools" by Joanne Lipman, WSJ, Oct 10, 2014.
Will the School of the Seven Sages open a school in my area?
The School of the Seven Sages is growing! We look forward to expansion, but in a measured way. If your state is home school friendly, we hope to be there very soon. Thank you for your continued patience and support.