I characterize Heritage Classical Study Center (HCSC) as a program of academic discipleship. Ask most Americans what they think about something and their reply will usually begin with, “Well, I feel that…” While emotions are God-given and not to be despised, they can be very deceptive. Unfortunately, Americans by and large are rarely taught to think anymore. At Heritage, we stress thinking skills, and especially how to think Biblically. Since we’re going against the cultural current, it is very difficult to teach students how to think in just one year. Fortunately, most of our students stay with us for several years and learn to read, listen, and think critically. These are skills that will make them more successful people, better parents, and better citizens of the United States and of the Kingdom of God. As a program of academic discipleship, I want to work my way out of a job with these young people so that when they leave Heritage they have developed the critical thinking skills and the convictions that will carry them through life without needing our instruction anymore.
My hope and prayer is for Heritage students and graduates to be salt and light among what the Bible calls a wicked and perverse generation. To imagine that a small program like ours could make much of a difference in a nation of more than 300 million souls may seem presumptuous, or even crazy, but our God is in the business of changing societies using a small number of people who understand what they believe, why they believe it, and who are totally committed to their message. When Jesus answered Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, he said that upon this rock “I will build by church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Of course, gates are built as a defensive measure. No one attacks anybody with gates. Yet for too long we Christians have been on the defensive when we should be assaulting the gates of Hades. It is my hope that Heritage graduates will take the battle to the enemy as they learn to communicate the Gospel with confidence and to understand that Christianity can stand tall and confidently in the marketplace of ideas. If they are to do this, they must work hard to prepare themselves. This, in large part, is why Heritage coursework is so rigorous, and why I say to parents that Heritage isn’t for everyone. If all you want is help in making sure that your child gets the proper credits for high school graduation and to get into college, you should not enroll your child in our program. On the other hand, if you want them to make a difference in this world for the Kingdom of God, if you want their lives to be about more than making money, this may be the place for them.
Founded in 1999 and now accredited with quality by the Georgia Accrediting Commission, Heritage Classical Study Center is an independent and private Christian study center, providing a classical and Christian supplement to home-educators at the middle and high school levels. As a discipling and tutorial service, Heritage is an extension of the family, providing them with a Biblically based, classical curriculum, in the basic academic disciplines. It is the purpose of Heritage CSC to train young people to be learners prepared to succeed at home, at work, and in society, and to live to the glory of God.
Heritage CSC offers group tutorials in the classical liberal arts curriculum. Students and their families are involved in the study of the classical languages (Latin and Greek), history, literature, logic, philosophy, government, economics, and rhetoric (speaking and writing). Through the course of their studies, students are exposed to the great books (usually in their entirety) as well as the art, music, people, and culture of Western Civilization.
At the core of Heritage is the trivium. This is the classical teaching methodology that tailors the curriculum to the child’s cognitive development, building on the abilities unique to each age group. In the early years, the trivium builds upon the ability of elementary age students to memorize facts – the language of subjects. This is the Grammar stage. The next stage is the Dialectic stage, which uses the questioning nature of the middle school years to enable students to find answers to the how and why. The Dialectic stage develops analytical skills. Students master logic and critical thinking and learn to identify the relationships between the facts of various disciplines. The final stage of the classical curriculum is Rhetoric. This stage emphasizes abstract thinking and the ability to articulate and express thoughts and ideas. Throughout the curriculum, students are equipped with the facts, skills, and abilities to develop and live out a Biblical world and life view as they stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before them.
The course of study at Heritage is very rigorous. It usually takes new students some time to adjust to managing their time and to handle the academic demands of our curriculum. This is especially true for students who enroll for the first time in high school. For too long Christians have tended toward anti-intellectual attitudes. At Heritage, we are working to help reverse that trend. We are not alone, however.
Click here to read an article by John Piper about the value of rigorous academic training.