Lower School Curriculum
The Lower School curriculum is designed to equip students for a lifetime of faith and learning. With an emphasis on fundamental facts and skills, students build a strong foundation of knowledge, and then think about and apply what they have learned. In a challenging academic environment, Westminster students are equipped with the tools to become independent learners, critical thinkers, creative problem solvers, and effective readers, speakers, and writers.
Distinctives of our classical content and methods include the study of Latin beginning in the third grade; a chronological timeline perspective, as opposed to a topical study, in both history and in our study of the Bible; an emphasis on the literary classics; and lastly, the integration of all subjects so students can better see the connectedness of all knowledge. Through our curriculum students learn to see everything through the lens of Scripture.
The centrality of the gospel of God’s grace permeates all of the curriculum with the goal of the gospel permeating all of their life. We pray for students to grow in their love for the God who created all things and all people everywhere.
Genuine Biblical understanding is acted upon. At Westminster we are committed to developing servant leaders who will use what they have learned in redemptive ways. Therefore, our weekly missions focus and semiannual service projects are not peripheral elements of our Lower School curriculum. We are seeking to help students grow in the gospel as they pray for and serve others here in Birmingham and around the world.
The elementary years are a crucial time in the training of minds and shepherding of hearts. We are committed to both scholarship and discipleship without one compromising the other. Our desire is for students to rest in the hope of the gospel and have confidence in their identity in Christ as they grow in wisdom and knowledge.
“We are trying to address the different types of learners, helping to address students where they are.”
—Lori Jill Keeler, Head of Lower School
Upper School Curriculum
As a liberal arts school, Westminster does not teach subjects in isolation; but instead it recognizes that knowledge is inter-related. Students are shown the connection between subjects and how they all come together to form one picture of the world. The most prominent example of this is the humanities courses. History and literature are combined and taught together so that the literature is read in the context of the time in which it was written. This allows the students to see that the historical context shapes the literature and that the ideas of the literature in turn drove the development of history.
In the humanities classes, students read original sources and the great books that have stood the test of time. This allows the students to stretch their ability to comprehend difficult works and to read directly what the authors wrote rather then depend upon interpretations provided by others. Classes are discussion-based, and the students examine the ideas they have read and engage in constructive debates about these ideas and how they contribute to their worldview.
Furthermore, students are not merely taught facts, but they learn the reasoning behind them. In the science and math classes, students are not just taught formulas and how to plug in numbers; but they are taught the reasons that the formulas work and the concepts that drive them. Students also study logic and rhetoric so that they can reason and express themselves well through both speaking and writing.
“Students are not merely taught facts, but they learn the reasoning behind them. Students also study logic and rhetoric so that they can reason and express themselves well through both speaking and writing.”
—Chris Knowles, Head of Upper School
The upper school curriculum assumes the traditional division of the middling years and the more advanced years. In grades 7-8, emphasis is placed mostly upon the acquisition of the basic skills of algebra, reading, writing, grammar, and logic. In grades 9-12, students enter into the more advanced levels of the various subjects. Juniors and seniors research, compose, and present a thesis to their classmates and faculty.
Westminster School at Oak Mountain
5080 Cahaba Valley Trace
Birmingham, AL 35242