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Rhetoric School: Grades 9 - 12

Ninth grade at TCS begins the Rhetoric phase, which is the third phase of the Grammar-Logic-Rhetoric progression of the Trivium in the Classical Model. Grades 9 through 12 at TCS also feature aspects of Grammar and Logical learning, but the focus shifts toward Rhetoric. In this phase, students combine their depth of knowledge about the facts (from the Grammar phase) and their analytical skills (from the Logic phase) to construct arguments and then articulate them convincingly and beautifully. Thus, the Rhetoric student strives to speak wisely and eloquently. This approach to writing and speaking is applied not only in history and literature but also in science and math.

Teachers at the Rhetoric School emphasize student participation as a central part of instruction, and many classes are taught as Socratic seminars. For Math and Science, the TCS Rhetoric School uses a dual-track approach with accelerated and grade-level courses, so that students are able to progress at a rate that best matches their abilities. During their 12th Grade year, students culminate their rhetoric studies by developing and preparing to defend a thesis paper. This thesis defense, made before a panel of judges, is the capstone of their experience at TCS. For further reference see the TCS School Profile.
TCS opens tenth grade in Fall 2016, and TCS will have its first graduating class in Spring 2019. Applications for admission to ninth and tenth grade are currently being accepted, after a family has attended an Information Meeting.

Rhetoric School Curriculum

Biblical and Theological Studies. Rhetoric students deepen their study of the Bible and their understanding of the Christian faith by progressing through a sequence of courses that gives them an introduction to theology: biblical survey, historical theology, ethics, and apologetics. Apologetics is an exciting and vital endpoint to this sequence because students learn not just to defend their faith but also to listen to and understand the counter-arguments of other people.

Literature and History. Rhetoric students complete for the final time the 4-year cycle--Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern--of history and literature that they have studied in Grammar School and Logic School. By pairing history and literature together, students are able to understand how the Great Texts function both as participants in the Great Conversation and as primary sources for the time period in which they were written. Highlights of their study of literature include: Homer’s The Iliad, Augustine’s Confessions, Dante’s Divine Comedy, several plays by Shakespeare, and novels by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Meanwhile, in their history courses, students engage in critical reading of secondary works by key historians whose theories have been influential in shaping views of the past, such as Edward Gibbon, Henri Pirenne, and Jacob Burckhardt.

Math and Science. Math and science courses are taught in two tracks (accelerated and grade-level) designed for students to achieve true mastery of upper level concepts. In Math, students in the grade-level track take Algebra I in Grade 9 and and eventually progress to Statistics during their Senior year. Meanwhile, students in the accelerated track begin with Geometry and complete their Rhetoric studies by taking Calculus. Accelerated and grade-level classes in science are paired with the dual-track math program; this is because progress in science, especially in Physics and Chemistry, is related to a student’s understanding of Math. In the grade-level track, students gain an excellent foundation in Physics, Biology, and Chemistry, before completing their studies with an advanced course on Anatomy & Physiology. Meanwhile, students in the accelerated track are able to progress through a series of advanced courses in Chemistry and Biology before taking Vector Physics as Seniors.

Logic, Algorithms, and Rhetoric. TCS students begin taking formal Logic in Grade 7, where they focus on the structure of argumentation, as displayed in syllogisms. In Rhetoric School, students complete their study of Logic and then apply their new-found skills in logical thinking by studying algorithms and programmatic thinking. In Grades 10 and 11, students study Rhetoric and Philosophy, key disciplines for the Rhetoric phase of the Trivium, because students are taught to analyze arguments, formulate positions, speak clearly, and present their own convincing arguments. Seniors, then, are ready to research and defend an argument of their own in the Senior Thesis, the culmination of their TCS experience.

Latin. In Rhetoric School, students ready for advanced Latin study (after taking Latin in Grammar and Logic School) read and study some of the greatest Latin authors, such as Julius Caesar, Cicero, and Vergil. At the same time, new students (who have not taken Latin before) can join Rhetoric School and begin learning Latin at their appropriate level.