Middle-School Ancient Literature
Term: Yearlong 2020–21, September 8–May 28
Target Grade Levels: Grades 7–9 (see placement details below)
Schedule: 2x / week, 60–75 min.
Section 1: M/W 3:30 p.m. ET with Ben Whittington
History/Literature Discount: Save $195 when you enroll in this course and the corresponding history course! The discount will be applied automatically to your shopping cart when you add both courses.
Ongoing Enrollment and Placement
- if the student falls outside of the stated age/grade range for the class.
- if the student needs to demonstrate a certain level of skill and proficiency for the course.
- if the student has completed prerequisite requirements somewhere other than Scholé Academy (e.g., at home or with another school). In this case, our instructors will need to verify that the student has adequately fulfilled the prerequisite requirements.
- if a placement assessment has been recommended by a Scholé Academy instructor.
- If a placement evaluation has not been administered, withdrawals requested before May 1 are granted a full refund, including the full $75 deposit.
- If a placement evaluation has been administered, withdrawals requested before May 1 are granted part of their $75 refund: $35 will be paid to the instructor for the placement evaluation, and the remaining $40 of the original deposit will be refunded.
This course introduces middle-school students to some of the classical texts or “Great Books” of the ancient Greek and Roman periods. Students will read and discuss the classic books from three dynamic eras in early human history: classical-era Athens, the Roman Republic/Empire, and early Christian writers. While studying these classics, students will explore the ideas, events, and cast of characters that molded the social, political, religious, scientific, economic, and technological history of Athens, Rome, and early Christians.
While this course primarily features literary study, it will also incorporate some study from ancient history, helping students to see and enjoy the integration of these two genres of history and literature. As a middle-school course, this class aims to introduce students to ancient literature by means of a deep study of a few seminal and primary works, while also providing students with the general historical context that will enable a better understanding of the literature and the ancient period.
Students are asked to consider and engage carefully crafted questions as their window into “the Great Conversation.” Occasionally, the teacher will present biographical, literary, and historical context through brief lectures, but all other classes are seminar-style discussions on the classical texts. Students are assessed for their curiosity, participation, and diligence during discussions, as well as by means of short response papers, essays, and occasional quizzes.
This class is paired with our middle-school course on ancient history, taught by the same teacher and scheduled back-to-back with that course in a “block.” Students who take both courses receive a discount. This course may also be taken as standalone literature study.
Syllabus: View course syllabus here.
Placement: Please read about our new process above.
This course is suitable for rising 7th–9th graders. Students are expected to have proficient reading and writing skills as well as the interest and capacity for engaging in discussion about literature and history. Students suited for this course will also be cultivating the following scholarship skills:
- Actively and independently engage in note-taking: I expect that students will need to grow in this skill as note-taking is not always well-developed among rising college students. Students should be generally aware of this skill and willing to flex this muscle.
- Apply teacher critiques
- Adhere to deadlines
- Be responsible for class and project preparedness
- Take initiative to ask questions for understanding and comprehension: This is very important for discussions and classical learning. It can be daunting for students who are less outgoing. Regardless of where a student’s natural abilities are in this area, the student needs to have a willingness to develop this skill.
How much time will students spend on homework?
I aim to give around 2 hours of homework every week for each class (a total of 4 hours of homework for both history/literature). Most of this will be reading, annotating, short assignments, etc.
How does this course compare to the upper-school ancient literature course?
The chief differences between the middle-school and upper-school levels for this course are noted below. While there will be some overlap of content taught, the upper-school course will be much more challenging and assume a more mature student with more background knowledge and greater reading, writing, and scholarship facility.
How is faith integrated with these courses?
These seminar-style discussions unfold organically. One could approach the texts with a focus on defensive critiques of classical authors. By contrast, we seek to read charitably. We treat classic authors as if they were friends, gleaning every available truth while also examining them from a robustly Christian perspective.
At Scholé Academy, we have carefully considered how we should engage our contemporary culture as those who believe that Christ is the Truth (John 14:6), and that all truth has its source in him. We think it is important to provide our upper school students (in grades 7-12) with tools and opportunities for critically examining various cultural trends, issues and mores through the lens of orthodox, Christian beliefs. Being confident in the truth revealed to us in creation, the Scriptures, and the tradition of the church, we are not afraid to follow the truth and its implications nor to address error and falsehood. … Read more about our Faith & Culture.
Required Reading List*
I would like the students to purchase the following books below. I try to use the Oxford World Classic Editions of books if possible because of their readability, scholarship, and availability online. Aside from the Hobbit (which you can have any edition of), I would highly prefer you purchase the editions below so we can all have the same access to introductions, notes, etc
Plato and David Gallup (Translator). The Defense of Socrates, Euthyphro, Crito. New York: Oxford World Classics, 2008. 0199540500
Homer and Anthony Verity (Translator), The Odyssey. New York: Oxford World Classics, 2017/2018. Paperback: 9780198736479 Hardback: 9780199669103
NOTE: This book is available in both hardback and paperback. You may purchase either. The hardback is a nicer shelf book, but the paperback is more affordable. They contain the same material.
Virgil and Frederick Ahl. The Aeneid. New York: Oxford World Classic, 2008. 9780199231959
Lewis, C.S. Till We Have Faces. New York: HarperOne, 2017. 0062565419
*Required materials are not included in the purchase of the course.
Ben Whittington received his B.S. in Religion and a M.A. in Philosophy from Liberty University, and is currently finishing his Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Birmingham (U.K.). While at LU, he served as the Coordinator for the Center for Apologetics under Joshua Chatraw. During that time, he published his first work as a contributing author in Sean Mcdowell’s “”New Evidence That Demands a Verdict”” (2017). In addition to spending the past two years as a Latin/Omnibus Teacher at an ACCS school, he has spent the past several years as an Adjunct Professor teaching Philosophy courses (residentially and online) at the College of DuPage, Ivy Tech Community College, and Volunteer State Community College.
Ben and his wife Emily reside in the Nashville area, and are active in the Church of the City. He has two little girls: Hadassah (3) and Eila (1). They love TV shows such as The Office and Friends, but their real TV love is Survivor. Ben’s favorite books are Lord of the Rings and Lewis’s Space Trilogy. firstname.lastname@example.org
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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