The Founders of the United States of America built our free republic on certain fundamental principles. In 1776, George Mason wrote in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, “No free government, nor the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.” By fundamental principles, Mason referred to the certain understanding about nature, rights, and government that were later expressed in the Declaration of Independence and are fundamental to the United States Constitution. We agree with George Mason and the other founders of our country that the maintenance and prosperity of our free republic depends upon the capacity of the American people to remain faithful to those founding principles.
Among those founding principles is self-government. The American founders understood self-government in the twofold sense of political self-government, in which we govern ourselves as a political community, and personal self-government, according to which each individual is responsible for governing himself. They believed the success of political self-government required a flourishing of personal self-government and that both are essential to preserving the American way of life. Self-government requires character and good habits, but essential elements of self-government are academic in nature, and these rely in large part on education. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, said the only method of rendering a republican form of government durable “is by disseminating the seeds of virtue and knowledge through every part of the state by means of proper education.” The Founders understood that an education that provides citizens with the knowledge and character necessary for self-government, is essential to the maintenance and prosperity of the American Republic. For that reason, they and leaders throughout our history firmly supported education. They also had strong opinions about what that education should consist of.
Thomas Jefferson’s 1779 Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge states that the object of education in primary schools is, “to instruct citizens in their rights, interests, and duties, as men and citizens.” This was necessary to make the people the guardians of their liberty. According to Jefferson, in grammar schools, students should be taught Latin, English grammar, reading, writing, arithmetic, the elements of mensuration, and the outlines of geography and history. Furthermore, the books for instructing children to read shall at the same time make them acquainted with Greek, Roman, English, and American history. Jefferson wrote, “by apprizing them of the past we will enable them to judge the future.”
JXCE’s educational philosophy and curricular approach were selected to provide the caliber of education Jefferson envisioned. JXCE’s classical curriculum—accessing the Core Knowledge Sequence, supplemented by the Riggs Program and Singapore Math, offering Latin, and providing a strong emphasis on civics and classical virtues—will provide students with a robust education that challenges and encourages them to excel both in learning and in character. JXCE will prepare students to succeed and to assume their roles as virtuous, productive American citizens, worthy of our country’s founding and capable of and eager to live out the Founders’ ideals of personal and political self-government, well-equipped to continue academic achievement, to advance into any life endeavor, to inspire others, and to become responsible members of their communities.
The classics provide the most thoughtful reflections on the meaning and potential of human life. They introduce students into a conversation which spans millennia and seeks to address the ageless questions of the human heart and mind. Participation in this conversation of the ages opens vistas of knowledge and understanding to students from every background, allowing them to walk, talk, and think with the greatest minds throughout history. They absorb and live out the greatest lessons of humanity: truth, justice, virtue, and beauty. Opening the doors to this world and inviting students from every background to participate in this conversation allows those students to become equal inheritors of the best and most rigorous thought in history, and to be set on a path of success and fulfillment in K-12 education, college, career, and citizenship in a just and free society.