What to Expect: Rhetoric School (9th – 12th Grades)

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Graduation requirements:

Humanities (4 credits, 9th-12th Grades)

The overarching goal of the Humanities class is to survey the significant cultures of  world history using the classical approach to history known as Moral Philosophy. We will study history from from  the dawn of time at creation to the decline of Roman power in the 4th century. As we examine literature, philosophy, theology, civics, art, music, and architecture of various cultures we hope to foster an interest in all the ways mankind has expressed our role as image bearer, and the results when mankind has refused the wisdom and beauty of God.

A core practice in this class is both informal and formal socratic discussion.

We also provide many opportunities for students to practice the skill of speaking well through in class readings and presentations. The tests synthesize practices from grammar, logic and rhetoric stages  as students demonstrate mastery of central  knowledge as well as good reasoning and eloquence in developing written and oral arguments.


While our central textbook is the Short History of Western Civilization, we use various pieces of primary history and literature according to the year’s historical emphasis. Previous books have included Gilgamesh, selections from Augustine and Athanasius, A Tale of Two Cities, History of the American People, The Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers, Cato: A Tragedy in Five Acts, Greenmantle, and The Napoleon of Notting Hill.

English (4 credits, 9th-12th Grades)

Providence English focuses on teaching students how to enter the “Great Conversation,” an ongoing conversation of great minds on humanist topics passed down through the ages. Students learn to evaluate, question, counter, and appreciate the opinions of others. In addition, they learn how to add to the conversation by establishing well-supported and eloquent arguments. Students practice writing and speaking with originality and authority. In preparation for college writing, students learn how to evaluate and utilize sources to support their own developing arguments. This course encourages students to investigate the relationship between writing and knowledge and to discover how writing can create, rather than merely transmit, knowledge.  The subject material in this course lends itself to philosophical topics, and students are encouraged to use their knowledge of theology and Biblical literature to explore such topics.

Students in Composition/Literature practice writing and speaking with originality and authority. Students apply the rules of logic learned in middle school and learn to express their claims in clear, persuasive, elegant language. According to the classical tradition, literature is studied in coordination with interrelated topics such as history, art, geography, and philosophy. Students engage in debates, Socratic Seminars, literary discussions, and on-going composition practice.


Our literary emphasis is based on the year’s historical cycle:

  • Cycle 1 texts have included The Odyssey, Oedipus Rex, Antigone, The Aeneid, Quo Vadis, Till We Have Faces, and The Merchant of Venice and various poems.
  • Cycle 2 texts have included Lord of the Rings, Beowulf, The Song of Roland, Dante’s Inferno, The Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Doctor Faustus, and Macbeth and various poems.
  • Cycle 3 texts have included The Count of Monte Cristo, Hamlet, Gulliver’s Travels, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Pride and Prejudice, and The Scarlet Letter and various poems.
  • Cycle 4 texts have included The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby, The Crucible, Animal Farm, The Great Divorce, A Raisin in the Sun, and To Kill a Mockingbird and various poems.

Geometry (1 credit, Grade 9 or 10)

Geometry is foremost the study of figures and visual patterns. The goal of this course is to help students learn geometric mathematics on their own, so that they are able to visualize and understand the mathematics in the world around them (harkening back to the Greek roots of geometry: geometria– “geo” meaning earth and “metria” meaning measure). In this class, students will be drawing, constructing, measuring, visualizing, comparing, transforming, and classifying geometric figures, and applying these ideas in a wide variety of situations both inside and outside of mathematics.

Text: Geometry: University of Chicago School Mathematics Project

Algebra 2 (1 credit, 10th or 11th Grade)

This class focuses on a survey of the various mathematical functions from those for simple lines to the binomial and normal functions used in Statistics, as well as of the major relationships such as one for the ellipse that describes the paths of the planets in space and is a foundation for developing software to simulate the locations of planets relative to the stars throughout the ages.

To understand these functions and relationships, students will review their prior learning to ensure they fully understand the concepts of number, operations and order of operations through facility with hand calculations and learn to use graphing technology, more complex than the computers first used in man space flight, to delve more deeply into the mathematics in our world. Hopefully, students will enjoy both the complexity and the simplicity of the mathematics in Algebra II.

Text: Algebra and Trigonometry: Functions and Applications (Foerster, Prentice Hall Classics)

Pre-Calculus (1 credit, 11th or 12th Grade)

The goal of this course is to help students learn mathematics on their own, so that they are able to visualize and understand the mathematics in the world around them. This course introduces Functions, Statistics, and Trigonometry. Functions are correspondences or mappings that relate variables. This year, students will review and extend ideas about functions, broadening their ability to solve problems, to make connections among mathematical ideas, and to develop generalizations. Statistics provides ways of extracting information from data and the ability to use that information to build knowledge that affects people’s lives. Trigonometry is fundamental to higher mathematics and to many applications, linking algebra with geometry. This course will help students review and extend their knowledge of these subjects to new contexts and applications.

Text: Pre-Calculus, Fifth Edition (Larson)

Biology (1 credit, Grade 9)

This biology course examines life from the cellular level all the way to its classification within the kingdoms.  Special attention is given to studying the Biblical account of creation and how it differs from the variety of evolutionary theories offered by some scientists today. Cell biology, including structure, function and reproduction, is covered.  Mendelian genetics, basic chemistry of living things and ecological processes are taught as well.

Texts: Exploring Creation with Biology: Apologia Press, The Microbe Hunters (DeKruif)

Chemistry (1 credit, Grade 10)

Chemistry is the central science. It is the basis for all other fields of science. Whether one is cooking a meal or driving a car, chemical reactions are used to accomplish the task; even reading this paragraph requires thousands of chemical reactions. This course is an introduction to general chemistry. Various topics from atoms and elements to chemical reactions and reaction kinetics will be covered. A solid basis for understanding how elements combine and interact will be covered. This course will examine a number of evidences of God’s existence found in scientific laws and His hand at work in creation through chemical properties and principles.  Students will explore concepts through labs, using equipment appropriate for the university.

Text: Introductory Chemistry, Russo ed., Benjamin Cumming publishing

Physics (1 credit, Grade 11)

Introductory Physics is a grade level science course with integrated discussions of the history of science, mathematics, and the role of faith in scientific investigation. “Science and mathematics provide us with unique ways of seeing God’s creative presence in the world. Bringing biblical faithfulness to science classes will not be accomplished by simply folding in a few Bible verses or prayers. In fact, much more involved. Science and math teachers need to think very broadly about how we fulfill Christ’s mandate to love God with all of our mind, how we teach our students effectively to engage issues, and how we perceive God’s fingerprints in creation.” John Mays, Introductory Physics, viii

Text: Introductory Physics, Novare Science and Math

Advanced Biology (1 credit, Grade 12)

This course is a 2 semester study of advanced topics in high school biology. The first semester focuses on the biochemistry, the cell, and genetics. The second semester focuses on the structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) of the human organism.

We read Darwin’s Black Box, which explains the incredible and “irreducible” complexity of the cell. The amazing human body, with its inimitable physical structures and intricate inner workings, is an incredible manifestation of God’s creative power and intelligent design.  The systematic, scientific study of the body is fascinating and fun, and will serve to affirm and deepen one’s faith in our Creator and Sustainer.

Texts: Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections; Darwin’s Black Box (Behe); In the Likeness of God (Brand/Yancey)

Latin (2 Credits)

Our various Latin courses provide and reinforce a foundational understanding of the mechanics, grammar, and vocabulary of the Latin language. Students will learn how to accurately construe and decode Latin texts using various verb tenses across three different types of verb conjugations, four different noun declensions as well as associated adjective and adverbial modifiers. The familiarity gained by the student of this ancient language opens up worlds of insight available only through examination of texts from antiquity in their original voice. Providence requires 2 years of rhetoric-school Latin; opportunities to take Latin extend all the way to Senior-level AP Latin, where students translate great literary and historical texts, focusing on Virgil and Julius Caesar.


  • Latin 1 and 2: “Jenney Latin” (First Year Latin, Jenney ed. Allyn and Bacon Press)
  • Latin 3: “Jenney Latin” (Second Year Latin, Jenney ed. Allyn and Bacon Press)
  • Latin 4: Caesar: Selections from his Commentarii De Bello Gallico, Virgil’s Aeneid
  • Latin 5 (AP Latin): Virgil: The Aeneid and selections from other works

Bible: Biblical Communication In Our Culture (½ credit, Grade 9)

In a culture of shouting and debating, it is our desire that Providence students know how to live and speak the gospel gracefully to unbelievers.  Christians must learn to listen and care about people first, seeing others as Christ sees them before speaking the message of the gospel in order to be effective .  God calls all believers to share the gospel faithfully in a variety of situations.

Text: I Beg to Differ: Navigating Difficult Conversations with Truth and Love (Muelhoff)

Bible: Worldviews (½ credit, Grade 10)

This course is a seminar explaining the Christian worldview as well as other theistic and atheistic worldviews. Students will use their knowledge of worldviews to analyze history, current events, literature, and media. Theology is part of the core curriculum of a classical education. Christian worldview is summarized in the narrative of scripture; creation, fall, redemption which is taught at the grammatical age. This class builds upon the metanarrative of scripture and upon a systematic theology to allow rhetoric students to think Christianly.

Text:The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog (Sire); Christian Worldview: A Student’s Guide (Ryken, Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition)


Bible: Apologetics (½ credit, Grade 12)

This course is a seminar dealing with some of the issues presented in modern Apologetics. Topics covered include science, pluralism, textual criticism, and others. By reading and discussing two major works, we will take a journey together to confront arguments against our faith with humility, grace, and intelligence.  Students will use personal journals, group discussion, and projects to grow more comfortable with confronting challenges to Christianity.  it is a field of study which requires classical skills such as logic, debate, rhetorical skill, a love of truth, prudence, etc. For the Christian, apologetics should be the field that proves classical education to be worthwhile. It is worth noting that the second generation of Christian writers after the Apostles, and the first to expand theology after the Apostles, were classically educated individuals commonly known as the Apologists.

Texts: The Reason for God (Keller), The Heresy of Orthodoxy (Kostenberger)

Rhetoric (1 credit, Grade 11)

“To the ancients, rhetoric was the crowning intellectual discipline. It took the knowledge the student had gained over the course of his years of schooling, and the understanding of logical principles gained from the study of traditional logic, and molded them into powerful tools of persuasion. To Aristotle, the art of rhetoric was the chief weapon in the service of truth.

Unlike much of modern communication theory, Aristotle did not overemphasize technique. He understood that, although the construction and delivery of a speech or a piece of writing are important, there is a certain body of knowledge a person must have at his disposal in order to communicate effectively. That is why Classical Rhetoric is more than just a course in English or public speaking. It is those things, but it is much more. It involves a study of the fundamental principles of political philosophy, ethics, and traditional psychology. A student learns not only how to give a political speech, but also the elements of good character; not only how to give a legal speech, but also the seven reasons people do things; not only how to give a ceremonial speech, but what incites specific emotions under different circumstances.” -Martin Cothran, Classical Rhetoric with Aristotle

Texts: Rhetoric (Aristotle), The Rhetoric Companion (Wilson and Wilson)

Government (½ credit, Grade 10)

This course will introduce students to Western political philosophy, American political thought, the structure and meaning of the US Constitution. the basic structure of the US government, and the major historical developments that have altered the Constitution and basic government structure. As such, this course goes beyond what is addressed in a typical civics or government class. More emphasis is placed on the philosophical and historical development behind the Constitution and the US government that has resulted in our current government, rather than identifying every detail of the contemporary political system. Current events, issues, and structures will be addressed, but these things will be examined in terms of the larger historical, philosophical, and constitutional  context. This course will allow students to begin developing and defending political ideas in a coherent and intelligent manner.

Text: The Contested Public Square: The Crisis of Christianity and Politics (Forster); The Constitution: An Introduction (Paulsen and Paulsen)

Intermediate Logic (½ credit, Grade 9)

This course builds upon the concepts introduced in Introductory Logic. The students will be introduced to propositional logic. Special attention is given to truth tables and rules of inference. We will then examine how C.S. Lewis utilized propositional logic to define and defend orthodox Christianity. This course will help students read and analyze difficult literature, prepare the student for deeper discussions of theology and apologetics, and ease the transition for the student into more advanced math and science.

Texts: Intermediate Logic (Nance), Canon Press, Mere Christianity (Lewis)

Economics (½ credit, Grade 12)

Economics is often described as either the dismal science or the worldly philosophy. The goal of this course is to present the major concepts of micro and macroeconomics in a manner that is neither dismal nor worldly. Students will gain a familiarity with basic economic concepts and the workings of the American economy. Students will examine economics from a practical, historical, and philosophical perspective that will allow them to analyze economic issues, arguments, and assumptions in light of the Christian worldview.

Text: Basic Economics, 5th Ed. (Sowell)

Elective Opportunities (2½ total credits)

Spanish is available for students who have met the Latin credit requirement; the class uses the Breaking the Barrier textbook series.

Visual Art, with projects often corresponding with our historical cycle, is available to all rhetoric school students.

Music, with an emphasis on choir, has been offered in the Fall Semester. This course culminates in a December evening performance.

Drama is held in the Spring and culminates in a Spring play. Past productions have included One-Act Plays “Hello, Shakespeare!” and “Snake in the Grass.” In Spring 2015, students produced an original musical, “Mysterious Ways,” based on the life of Joseph set in 1910’s Texas, and in Spring 2016, the school produced the original play “The Shadow of Life,” based on “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis.

Cinema Analysis has been offered in the Fall Semester. “In this course, students will learn to become active spectators, to decipher cinematic codes that make up film language – a visual/auditory language that evokes our human emotions – ultimately accepting, questioning, or challenging the rhetoric on screen. We will explore how filmmakers respond to cultural issues through narratives, aesthetic choices, and cinematic rhetoric. But, learning to recognize cinematic expression is only the first step. As a guiding question, we will also ask: how should spectators respond to certain movies, and, if we should respond, how do we do so?”

Dual-credit Pre-Calculus and Calculus at UMHB is now available to qualifying seniors.

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