A Classical Liberal Arts Education starts with the Western Canon.
You'll begin your literary adventure with Homer (not Simpson) and end up full of fear and loathing in the desert outside of Las Vegas, Nevada with a maniacal writer and a 300-lb Samoan lawyer named Dr. Gonzo.
Seriously, English is the greatest weapon in the world–and you'll learn to wield it effectively and wisely.
Twenty-six letters. Nine parts of speech. Simple grammar. Penmanship matters. Thinking and writing are a physical acts. You’ll read the classics, out loud, listening to the rhythm of the sounds and feeling the power of words.
Reading list will include, in addition to the Western Canon, beginning with The Iliad, a selection of modern classics: A Tale of Two Cities, Frankenstein, Heart of Darkness, Empire of the Sun, Lord of the Flies, The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, and Montaigne’s Essays.
These timeless tomes will hopefully spark a lifetime of curiosity and profound interest in the world around you, and inspire you to continue to learn and grow forever. Moral action is the key to a fulfilled life. GPAs don't matter. Education never ends.
You’ll create a history timeline, filling in the blanks all semester. Wars and civilizations. Famous and infamous figures. Re-concept the political spectrum. Understand citizenship and patriotism. Geopolitics then and now. Our reading list will be: The Iliad, since it’s the first and finest chronicle of war ever written; Plutarch’s Lives, Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, and Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago.
Why something rather than nothing? “The laws of the universe are god.” What happens when you die? How trees communicate with other trees via molecules underground. OCEAN: The Big Five personality traits. Which way’s north? Virus vs bacteria? How to be good stewards of our precious planet. Myths debunked. Are there UFOs? Why nuclear energy is the greenest future. IQ, and you. Reading: Darwin, Sagan, Jung.
A spirited romp through the fundamentals of art, including painting, sculpture, theater, architecture and film, and the transcendent quest for understanding and meaning. Textbook will be Gombrich’s The Story of Art, and instruction will be modeled on Vince Sculley's justly-famous, connect-all-the-dots history/art/architecture class at Yale.
First, students will be introduced to and take over the running of Old’s Cool Academy e-commerce business–social media, sales, marketing, inventory, and fulfillment. Most of business basics will overlap with Life Skills 101, with the end goal being to build, above all, character, confidence, and competence.
Business book list: The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Liar’s Poker, and The Prince.
Students will study The Declaration of Independence, the greatest document in the history of the universe, bar none, and how and why the U.S. Constitution is its magnificent and enduring offspring. Students will come to know and love the wisdom and impact of these astounding achievements.Respect and personal responsibility are the cornerstone of any successful society, and they must be taken seriously.
Our Quaker grandmother taught us “Doing well by doing good,” genuine kindness and generosity, given with sincerity, were two of the many twin pillars of a rewarding life.
See for yourself–download the comprehensive syllabus here.
"Wit is Educated Insolence."
Life Skills 101
We teach Marcus Aurelius' famous maxim: Live in the present, with virtue.
1. Seems simple enough: If you want to change the world, change yourself first.
Here’s how to start–make your bed and clean your room–literally and figuratively. It’s your everyday psychological head-space and needs to be kept clean and neat. Everything is connected, and everything matters. The world is small. And round.
2. Attack each day with courage and integrity. Be positive and grateful, for even the smallest things. Be humble and kind. Don’t take anything personally, or make assumptions. Always do your best.
3. Open mind. Critical thinking. Facts and data, not feelings. Inductive reasoning. Ask the right questions. Learn how to listen. Patience.
Old's Cool Expectations: Excellence, Discipline, and Respect.
Education should be treated with respect at all times. Your "subfusc" will be a button-down shirt, school tie, tied, pants (or skirts for the ladies), blazer, and shoes. No hip-hop hoodies or flip-flops. In shop class you’ll wear your jumpsuit instead of a blazer. You need to be serious about learning, and should expect to spend at least one hour for each subject outside of class–set aside the time, and devote yourself to focusing on the task at hand. No cell phone, or... look, a squirrel!
All notes, class assignments, and homework will be written out long-hand, in a notebook. We provide you with a fountain pen to give you the tactile feel of forming words, shooting from the shoulder as it were. Sit up straight, at your desk, and write with your whole body. Learning should involve every sense intensely. All-in, all-out.
Homework reading assignments need your undivided attention, in a quiet place, in at least half hour sessions at a minimum, one hour the recommended maximum. Longer than that and you can’t concentrate; shorter and you don’t have enough time to settle in. You should also try to read aloud, to yourself or to a friend, on a regular basis which we will do in class every day. We recommend twenty minute sessions–hearing your own voice and the rhythm of the words will give you a better feeling for the material and become a transformative experience.
You can always drop by after school (or call on weekends) to discuss an assignment, or any problems you may be having with a lesson, something in your own life, or with the business end of an angle grinder. Make sure you respect yourself enough to be on time, present, prepared, open to reflection, and willing to take any constructive criticism to heart.
A rigorous curriculum.
Our program starts July 1 and January 1. As already mentioned, there are six subjects at the Academy: English, History, Science, Life 101, Traditional Skills, and Business Basics. There’s also one “Master Class” per week.
In the six-month academic program there will be a total of 325 class periods. These will be divided as follows:
English – 3 x week = 75 classes.
History, Science, Life 101, and Arts – 2 x week = 50 classes each for a total of 200 classes.
Traditional Skills and Business Basics – 1 x week = 25 classes each for a total of 50 classes.
Students will read a total of 33 books during the academic year, broken down by subject: English – 14; History – 6; Science –4; Business – 3; Traditional – 2; Apprenticeship – 4.
You can download the entire curriculum here.