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Academy Highlights | Session V, Week 5

Grammar School Highlight | 3rd Grade With Mrs. Ainsworth

Money, Money, Money! We wrapped up our final unit of 3rd grade math with a unit on money. To reinforce all the textbook and workbook work we did in class, we took a field trip to the Ferry Building Farmer's Market to put our money skills to the test. We tested out our city navigation skills as well by taking the MUNI from the school to the Ferry Building. We arrived in one piece and feeling like savvy city-dwellers.


Upon arriving at the Farmer's Market, the students were tasked with spending $3.00 each on their fruit of choice. After carefully perusing all of the stalls, even sampling some fruits from generous farmers, the students made their choices. Some students chose to pool their money for a $6.00 pound of blueberries. Others purchased a variety of fruits by choosing to weigh and calculate the per-pound price. We concluded the trip armed with a bounty of beautiful fruits and a deeper appreciate for our Creator who gives us such bounty! And to really appreciate all this goodness, we created and enjoyed a delicious fruit salad to end our day.


Upper School Highlight | Formal Logic With Mr. Pyke

What does Pharrell Williams and his wildly popular song "Happy" have to do with classical education?


No, we did not translate the lyrics into Latin or try to draw out the song's philosophical roots by reading Rousseau. Rather, the song was the focus of a recent Formal Logic class with the Rhetoric students, many of whom had quizzical looks on their faces as the song provided the background music to the last few minutes of their pre-class break.


We zeroed in on one line in particular, in which Pharrell sings in the chorus, "Happiness is the truth." We sought to understand what this actually means and dig into the assumptions that underlie it. The first step was to state the full argument in standard categorical form, which, as my students regularly remind me, sounds a bit convoluted:

  • All truth is something that should be pursued

  • All happiness is the truth

  • Therefore, all happiness is something that should be pursued

Not exactly Top 40 material, but it is a syllogism. Specifically, it is an AAA-1 syllogism, which means that it is valid. But is it true? To evaluate that, we need to define terms like "happiness" and "truth," and from there think through the presuppositions underlying this argument. This is a lot of work for just four words in the middle of a catchy song. However, teaching students to engage with, rather than simply receive, the messages that surround them is imperative for their growth in maturity. Formal Logic gives them some of the tools to do this.

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