With its Christ-centered focus, Cornerstone provides the tools necessary to develop strong character. God’s truth is infused throughout the curriculum and is reinforced in chapel each week, where the students learn important lessons from the Scriptures. These lessons are put into practice in the classroom, on the playground, and in student service projects. Cornerstone’s combination of academic excellence and moral teaching provides the best possible environment for children to grow into well-educated and responsible men and women.
Purpose of Cornerstone School
Cornerstone’s purpose is to instill in children a love for God, a true desire for knowledge, and a heart for serving others in light of Christ and His truth. The following curriculum guide maps out both Cornerstone’s school-wide distinctives and course of study for each individual grade. It is the foundation for required material to be covered each year. This guide is not meant to be exhaustive, but instead, a launching point to further and deeper enjoyment of each subject area.
Great thought and consideration is behind the book and curriculum selections that comprise the education at Cornerstone. Strong influences from Classical and Charlotte Mason philosophies dovetail and serve as unifying threads in Cornerstone’s pedagogy, course of study, and view of the learner.
Foundations to Cornerstone’s Approach
The following Cornerstone distinctives should inform all aspects of the Cornerstone educational experience and should be evident in every facet of the school culture. Each board member, staff member, student and parent should be able to articulate these distinctives and understand how and why they define Cornerstone as an educational community.
- Biblical Worldview
- Character and Spiritual Development
- Learning through Great Books, Good Books and Living Books
- Engaged and Purposeful Learner
1. Biblical Worldview
God’s Word informs every aspect of life at Cornerstone. Scripture is the lens through which we view everything in life, including education. We believe God’s Word is life, revives the soul, and is the source of truth and wisdom. As the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 19:7-11,
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward,”
Cornerstone teachers bring the “Story of God,” (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Love) into classroom discussions and use it as the sieve through which to analyze learning content. As students reflect on an area of study, teachers guide the students to pose four important questions.
The Four Questions
- What was God’s original intent?
- Where, and to what extent do we see that intent reflected in this specific book, or area of study?
- Where, and to what extent do we see evidence of the fall?
- What is God’s redemptive purpose and what is God calling me to do in response, as a participant in His redemptive process?
—Amy Imbody, Head of School, Lorien Wood
We believe students should read the Bible for themselves. Learning to study scripture is key in encouraging a personal and authentic faith. In addition, we know that memorizing scripture yields a harvest of righteousness. As the Psalmist states in Psalm 119:11-16,
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.”
Cornerstone students will commit significant portions of God’s word to memory. Students will also read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation on a regular schedule throughout their time at Cornerstone.
2. Character and Spiritual Development
Relying on the Bible as our standard, we care deeply about the spiritual and character development of the children at Cornerstone. While we recognize the responsibility for the spiritual and character training of children was given to the parents, Cornerstone seeks to intentionally support and encourage parents in their God-given role. We learn from Scripture that knowledge alone, without the life-changing relationship with our Lord and the spiritual fruit it produces, is vanity. As Jesus states in Matthew 16:26,
“What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
We set Biblical standards before Cornerstone students and guide them towards the goal of living to please God rather than man. We look to the life of Jesus as our ultimate example and speak of the process of being conformed to His image. We aim for and encourage these standards in every student’s conduct, understanding that it is the Holy Spirit that enables them to live according to Biblical teaching.
Laying Down the Rails of Good Habit
A significant component of character development is the formation of good habits, which help set a child on a smoother course in life. Charlotte Mason, in her writings, elaborates to great effect the importance of habit development in forming a person’s character and the role of the educator in cultivating these good habits for life.
“We have lost sight of the fact that habit is to life what rails are to transport cars. It follows that lines of habit must be laid down towards given ends and after careful survey, or the joltings and delays of life become insupportable. More, habit is inevitable. If we fail to ease life by laying down habits of right thinking and right acting, habits of wrong thinking and wrong acting fix themselves of their own accord.”
Cornerstone presents these habits to children and provides ample opportunities to put them into practice throughout the school day.
Decency and Propriety Habits
- Modesty and Purity
- Mental Effort
- Perfect Execution
- Reading for Instruction
- Integrity—in four aspects
- Use of Time
- Borrowed Property
- Personal Initiative
- Sweet, Even-Temper
- Truthfulness y Usefulness
—“Laying Down the Rails, A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook” by Sonya Shafer
3. Learning through Great Books, Good Books and Living Books
Foundational to Cornerstone’s curriculum is the use of Great Books, Good Books, and Living Books.
“Great Books” refer to those books throughout history that helped shape and define Western Civilization and consequently served to define much of our culture. These Great Books are part of what is known as the Great Discussion (i.e. Our ideas about God, mankind, family, society, and government and about what is good and what is evil). Some examples of Great Books include: The Bible, The Iliad, The Odyssey, Confessions of St. Augustine, Beowulf, The Divine Comedy, among others.
“Good Books,” on the other hand, are books that have served as foundational in our more recent culture and are not to be missed in a child’s education and literary experience. These books delight and inform children’s imagination with their rich literary style and are most often warm, tender, humorous, and virtuous. They support the scriptural principle found in Philippians 3:8.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
“Living Books” is a term coined by 19th Century English Educator, Charlotte Mason. As gleaned from her writing, Living Books are of high literary quality which contain worthy ideas passed from author to reader in a way that delights and gives further knowledge of a valuable quality, thereby expanding a person’s world and his or her thinking. As Charlotte Mason explained about choosing books,
“For the children? They must grow up upon the best…There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told. Let Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ represent their standard in poetry, DeFoe and Stevenson, in prose; and we shall train a race of readers who will demand literature—that is, fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas and pictures of life.”
—Charlotte Mason, “A Philosophy of Education” p. 109
Cornerstone seeks to choose books that will both delight and make lasting impressions on the student’s mind. As Charlotte Mason wrote,
“Our business is to give him mind-stuff, and both quality and quantity are essential. Naturally, each of us possesses this mind-stuff only in limited measure, but we know where to procure it; for the best thought the world possesses is stored in books; we must open books to children, the best books; our own concern is abundant provision and orderly serving.”
—Charlotte Mason, “A Philosophy of Education” p. 26
4. Engaged and Purposeful Learner
Cornerstone teachers design lessons and deliver instruction in such a way as to spark children’s interest and to maintain involvement throughout the learning process. We desire for students to delve into their studies with the same curiosity and vigor a toddler explores his or her surroundings. Why does a student of 10 or 11 years not display that same sort of interest? Charlotte Mason offers the following observation:
“There are four means of destroying the desire for knowledge:
(a) Too many oral lessons, which offer knowledge in a diluted form, and do not leave the child free to deal with it.
(b) Lectures, for which the teacher collects, arranges, and illustrates matter from various sources; these often offer knowledge in too condensed and ready prepared a form.
(c) Text-books compressed and recompressed from the big book of the big man.
(d) The use of emulation and ambition as incentives to learning in place of the adequate desire for, and delight in, knowledge.”
—Charlotte Mason, “An Educational Manifesto”
By contrast, Cornerstone provides an opportunity to engage and interact with quality material.
“The person rises to understand, master, and enjoy whatever he is surrounded with in language, ideas, literature, and in appreciation of beauty. If you share with children the very best, carefully chosen to meet their needs, they will amaze everyone.”
—“For the Children’s Sake” by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, p. 39