Academic Philosophy

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." - Proverbs 9:10

In a world entrenched in compromise in the political, economic, scientific, academic and, sadly, even religious, arena, Stonehaven intentionally seeks to provide for its students a strong classical education based on mandates and absolute truths of Scripture. The book of Proverbs unequivocally commands us, both implicitly and explicitly to seek knowledge that we might gain understanding, and ultimately, wisdom and discernment. Proverbs 9:10 states, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is undestanding." Stonehaven, both in its curriculum and methodology are founded on the truth that the knowledge of God is the beginning of wisdom.

The Classical methodology, then, embraced by Stonehaven is born of this mandate: to instill into our students, knowledge first; to build understanding around that knowledge, and, finally to hone and refine the skills and understanding acquired in order to be able to make wise decisions, discerning truth from subtle, ubiquitous falsehood.

To fulfill our role of raising up students equipped to live a productive, God-honoring life, Stonehaven focuses on four major spheres of influence. It provides for its students: a Christ-centered education, an education that is marked by academic rigour, a place where a love of learning is developed and encouraged. Finally, Stonehaven follows the well-worn, successful path of Classical Methodology.

A Christ-Centered Education

boy working with tangrams

"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" - Matthew 16:26

A rigorous educational curriculum, taught without the anchor of Scripture and apart from a dependence upon and a love for the Lord may very well produce an educated atheist, one who is likely to infect others with his worldview. In a world that is increasingly devoid of moral absolutes, Stonehaven intentionally centers every aspect of academic life on the moral absolutes painted so vividly for us in Scripture by a Holy and Righteous God.

There is no part of Stonehaven's daily routine that does not come under the directive scrutiny of Scripture's loving and guiding light. Beyond morning devotions and Wednesday morning Chapel, every class, from math to P.E., peer relations, interactions between members of the staff and administration, relations with parents and visitors, all areas of Stonehaven life are ultimately driven by a desire to honor the Lord.

Whereas the secular educational system has promoted the view that education is an end in itself, a time to acquire as much knowledge as possible to get the best paying job available, Stonehaven strives to give its students the tools necessary to lead a life through which we can glorify, honor and enjoy God forever. In seeking first the Kingdom of God and honoring Him with their work, students will perforce gain the knowledge and wisdom necessary to lead a productive life. Stonehaven views every subject, belief and idea with a Christian worldview. Theodore Roosevelt once said "a man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education he may steal the whole railroad." The modern educational system has taught its children that an education apart from the Word of God is most important. Knowing lots of important information, facts and ideas must be accompanied with the wisdom of how to use the information. Stonehaven seeks to show its students that education is a means by which we obey God and honor Him.

Academic Rigor

boy working with tangrams"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:2

The curriculum followed at Stonehaven is demanding of even the most gifted students so as to maximize their God-given gifts and talents. The work is challenging... but so is the world our young people will inevitably enter one day. Students will need to be able to spot and then handle the falsehoods and equivocations rampant in the secular world which insidiously draws in the gullible and unprepared. It is the task of Stonehaven to sharpen the minds of its students, to teach them to think logically, methodically, deeply, and critically. Students will be taught to "question all things." Ralph Waldo Emerson got it right when he wrote, "question all things. Never turn away from any difficulty. Accept no doctrine either from yourselves or from other people without rigid scrutiny by negative criticism. Allow no fallacy or incoherence, or confusion of thought to slip by unperceived. Insist upon having the meaning of a proposition understood before assenting to it."

The Lord warns us as well to, "see to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." It is in logic class that students will learn to nail the fallacy in a fine-sounding speech and see it for the empty rhetoric it really is. They soon learn to see through the meaningless jargon and double-speak so often adopted by our politicians and economists.

Let us remember, too, that it is in learning deeply and thoroughly about math, biology, astronomy, science and geography that we can best appreciate our awesome Creator God and learn to know Him and recognize Him more clearly.

Having emphasized the scope and value of a challenging curriculum, the teachers at Stonehaven realize that students are created with various gifts and talents... not all of them in math or English. Teachers do not expect straight A's in every subject, nor does the Lord... but what does the Lord expect of us? Paul states it succinctly in Colossians 3:17, "and whatsoever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." That is to say that the Lord wants our best work, dedicated to HIM - not to the altar of good-grades-for-college or even to please Mom and Dad, however admirable those goals may be. The Lord wants our best work wrapped in our best efforts, neatly tied up with patience and diligence. This attitude of dedicating our work to God will be carried over into the workplace where satisfaction in one's job will lie in knowing that in offering our work to the Lord, it is graciously accepted by our gracious God, whether the current supervisor or employer appreciates our work or not.

Love of Learning

boy working with tangrams"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" - Philippians 4:4

Excitement is contagious and it is Stonehaven's goal to instill in its students a sense of anticipation and expectancy about tomorrow's lesson... in history, or Bible or... to expect a great show of enthusiasm for the next grammar or math class is perhaps asking a bit much, but there are songs and drills that lend themselves well to many classroom situations and that can relieve the routine in the learning environment. A serious and challenging education is not necessarily separate from a creative and enjoyable learning experience.

Temperaments differ, gifts and interests differ, and it may take more effort to whet the appetite of one student than another. The bold, the brash, the intrepid student, is the one with the insatiable appetite, the one who will try anything. He's out there, mouth watering, an armful of books within reach, seeking the "who", "what", "where", "when" and "how" of everything. There is also the more cautious student who would rather not wander past the garden gate, who is shy of new experiences and afraid of failing if he tries something new. Both are challenges to the conscientious teacher, and Stonehaven is committed to guiding the one and encouraging the other until both find fulfillment and excitement in the journey of learning. There can be nothing more gratifying than seeing a student blossom and show interest in a subject outside his usual sphere of interest. The excitemement the teacher feels for his subject, and especially the excitement he feels in wanting to share the material with his students will be contagious. Michelangelo at age 87, is said to have uttered these words, "ancora imparo", "I am still learning". Stonehaven desires to instill in its students, through its teachers, an ever increasing joy in discovering the marvels of the world around us, as well as the works and legacy left behind of the great minds that went before us.

It is also important to note that students at Stonehaven are surrounded by likeminded students who have been taught that the seeking of knowledge is "a good thing", not something relegated to "geeks"; seeking knowledge is fascinating and honoring to the Lord. Further, the parents of Stonehaven students have put a great deal of emphasis on a good education.

As Stonehaven students look back over their time here, it is our hope that they, like Ovid, the famous Latin poet, will have begun to feel that, "labor is its own reward", that there is indeed much joy in the learning, the process and the accomplishment of a given task. We hope they will realize too, as we have tried to convey to them that, "Laborare est orare", to labor is to pray (Benedictine Order).

Classical Methodology

The proven method of a classical education employed at Stonehaven is another area that distinguishes Stonehaven from both public school and most other private schools. The idea behind a classical education is returning to a pattern of training the mind of a child that was used in medieval education with great success. This method continued throughout the western world until recent times. As modern systems of education continue to experiment with new fads and techniques that often times have terrible results, Stonehaven believes the classical pattern known as the trivium is the best way to educate a child.

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