Arithmetic & Mathematics
The realm of mathematics strengthens the student’s ability for abstract thought and is taught at the appropriate stages of development after a solid foundation in arithmetic. Mathematics, like all languages, is cumulative, rigorous, and demanding; it develops logical, accurate, and precise thinking habits. Mathematics is the language of science and the indispensable tool for the study of the natural world. The key to success in all sciences, especially chemistry and physics, is a superior mathematics education.
Arithmetic is the art of counting and calculation. Like the Latin grammar, arithmetic is concrete, based on memorization, and is a small and finite subject. These characteristics make arithmetic appealing to the child's mind; it is something that he can understand and achieve mastery over. In the trivium model of learning, arithmetic is the focus of grades K-6. Next to the alphabet, arithmetic is the most useful tool students will ever possess. It should not be rushed over in a hurry to get to higher mathematics. After mastery of the arithmetic, students embark on the study of mathematics, a large and varied subject that includes many topics, such as algebra, geometry, and calculus. Topics from the world of mathematics are suitable for students who have reached the age of abstract thinking in middle and high school.
Our textbooks and teaching strategies at SFA ensure that students learn arithmetic and mathematics in an age-appropriate scope and sequence, eliminating the deficiencies so prevalent in modern mathematics education. Modern textbooks do not observe the distinction between arithmetic and mathematics. Algebra topics are included in texts as early as Kindergarten and obscure the necessary arithmetic skills for each grade. The energy and effort of students are dissipated over a variety of topics, many of which are too abstract for students to understand. Insufficient time is given to basic skills, and students do not experience the satisfaction of mastery learning, nor are they adequately prepared for higher math. A failure to master basics is the cause of the glass ceiling that most students reach in their mathematics education. Seventh grade is an important year that prepares able students for algebra in the 8th grade, but students who are immature or insufficiently prepared will be encouraged to postpone algebra until the 9th grade. Mathematics is an exact language, one that is unrelenting and unforgiving. Students must overlearn basic math skills in middle school if they are to be successful in high school math.
Our textbooks are carefully chosen, and our teachers are committed to the goals of mastery learning in arithmetic and mathematics. The Academy’s approach to mathematical instruction is cumulative and incremental, so that no skill is taught in isolation. Pre-Algebra is offered in the seventh grade or eighth grade and is followed by Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. Courses in advanced mathematics will also be available for older high school students.