Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:6)
The wise of heart is called discerning,
and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. (Proverbs 16:21)
On the job site, in the board room, in the voting booth, negotiating a deal, leading a team, pitching a product or a new idea, working toward effective collaboration — in every area of public life, thinking well and communicating persuasively form the basis for those “soft skills” necessary for productive results.
As the core elements of a classical education, Latin, Logic, and Rhetoric have proven over time to expand a student’s mastery over language and ideas, the building blocks of culture. No matter how science and technologies change, the leaders in these fields and other institutions of society (education, commerce, government, church and home) will always be deep, precise, wise thinkers and powerful communicators.
The Latin program at Covenant begins in Third Grade with simple exposure and minor grammar, primarily where it overlaps with English grammar study. Exposure moves to vocabulary building, and ultimately to translation by the time a student is in Eighth Grade.
We have structured our program so that Seventh Grade students receive the equivalent of Latin I, and Eighth Grade students receive the equivalent of Latin II. Students can receive High School credit for those classes.
The benefits of formal Latin are:
- Precise, analytical thinking (Translation is an excellent exercise for training the brain for systematic thought.)
- Understanding English grammar (You’re forced to learn the grammar of your native language better when you have to use it to understand a foreign language.)
- Vocabulary building (Roughly 60% of the English language derives from Greek and Latin; 90% of the “power words” in English — those in the fields of medicine, law, and government — have a Latin or Greek derivation. Since Latin uses the English alphabet, it lends itself more easily to study at the primary and secondary school.)
- Cultural literacy (Western culture is saturated with elements of our Roman heritage, and knowledge of that heritage opens up a deeper level of understanding the influences that shape the culture in which we live. Latin phrases are everywhere in American society — on our currency, in our courtrooms and government buildings, and even in our popular art and media, and a knowledge of Latin heightens our awareness to how foundational Roman culture is to our own.)
- Increased college readiness (It’s well known that study of Latin increases SAT scores, but it also gives students more tools for decoding, reading, and comprehending complex texts like those in university courses.)
- Latin is a “gateway” language (Six other European languages are Latin based, and elements of Latin can be found in a host of others. Also, Latin learning has proven over time to unlock for students the “logic of language,” the natural principles that guided the development of human language in general. Discovery of these principles make it easier to learn almost any language, even if it’s not Latin based.)
Logic is defined as “the art of thinking well.” At Covenant students are challenged to think logically at every level of education, appropriate to the normal course of cognitive development. Students also take two semesters of Logic as a specific course — Formal (also called “Aristotelian”) Logic in Ninth Grade and Informal Logic in Tenth Grade.
Formal Logic teaches students to recognize when the claims and the conclusions of an argument don’t “add up.” At the same time, it teaches them to make sure that the claims and conclusions of their own thinking do “add up.”
Informal Logic teaches students how to recognize the ways words and assumptions can “hide” or distract from the fact that an argument is weak. Formal and Informal Logic work together to train students for real critical thinking.
Rhetoric is the art of speaking powerfully and persuasively. Students study the speeches of great orators of the past, both Ancient and Modern, and discover the basic principles of effective communication in a variety of contexts. Students at Covenant learn and practice rhetorical skills beginning in Kindergarten with show and tell and giving different sorts of oral presentations at every grade level. In Eleventh Grade students take formal Rhetoric as a course.