Gilbert school officials unveiled their newest proposal for a school that would model itself after an ancient teaching method.
The Gilbert Unified School District governing board heard a presentation at its board meeting Tuesday night for a type of school that may eventually replace the district’s Technology and Leadership Academy.
The proposed Gilbert Classical Academy would teach seventh- through 12th-graders using the Socratic method of instruction,which uses direct questions, as opposed to lecturing, to teach students. The method dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans.
The district would break the education into three parts of “training the mind”: A grammar stage for seventhand eighth-graders to teach them how to remember and recite facts, a logic stage for ninth- and 10th-graders that focuses on linking facts and sequencing events, and a rhetoric stage for 11th- and 12thgraders to teach students how to debate facts.
Logic, rhetoric, philosophy and debate courses and a senior thesis would be mandatory to prepare students for universities. School officials also suggested laptop computers for every student who enrolled.
The district projects the school could accommodate 60 students per grade, a total of 360 students.
“Classical means it has steeped in the tradition of many, many centuries,” said Gilbert Superintendent Bradley Barrett.
“(We would) instruct teachers how to teach differently and teach students how to learn differently. The proposal that we are bringing to you, I think, is very ambitious.”
The district announced in December that it would phase out Technology and Leadership Academy students as they graduated because of its stagnant enrollment and the school being financially unfeasible for the district.
The academy’s curriculum was designed to have a science and aviation focus through a partnership with the U.S. Air Force, community colleges and airports.
But before the academy opened in August 2003, the U.S Air Force partnership dissolved, leaving the district with a small high school where it was mandatory for its students to enroll in JROTC — which will be an elective under the new proposal.
The governing board is expected to vote on the final concept in April. If approved, the new school will open in August 2007.
In other business, the board unanimously voted to name its newest elementary school Highland Park Elementary School.
The school, opening in the fall, is located at 230 N. Cole Drive in Gilbert — north of Elliot Road and east of Higley Road.