Rhetoric School

Classical learning culminates in the Rhetoric School (grades 9-12), where students synthesize their acquired knowledge and skills (acquired in the Grammar and Logic Schools) by an articulate expression of their own ideas.

Classical education is incomplete without this final phase of cultivating wisdom and developing the capacity for beauty and clarity of expression.

Pursuing wisdom means more than learning the next group of facts or techniques. Rather, biblical wisdom comes from God, and it is a gift to which we awaken. In other words, God opens our eyes to see the truth and gives us courage and wisdom to practice it. So we pursue God, reading his world with his Word in hand, learning to see the Truth he has revealed–wherever we find it.

Under the guidance of Rhetoric School faculty who seek to instill a desire for contemplation and an appreciation for learning, students learn to relate the philosophical and practical aspects of life. They will be immersed in the best of literature, the arts, history, theology, philosophy, science, and mathematics. They take positions on fundamental (and sometimes controversial) issues, and they argue these positions using cogent, articulate, and persuasive communication. They learn to apply logic that is grounded on biblical truth in order to examine the assumptions and conclusions of their own philosophies and those of the world around them.

The Rhetoric stage culminates with the Senior Thesis project, which requires each student to write and defend a carefully researched paper and/or project.

The following points explain student characteristics at the rhetoric stage, Oak Hill’s plans for teaching rhetoric students, and key elements of Rhetoric School curriculum.

Student Characteristics

  • Concerned with present events, especially in own life
  • Interested in justice, fairness
  • Moving toward special interests, topics
  • Able to take on more responsibility, independent work
  • Desires to express feelings, own ideas

Teaching Methods

  • Drama, oral presentations
  • Harkness-style discussion
  • Guided research in major areas with goal of synthesis of ideas
  • Papers, speeches, debates
  • Formulation of personal convictions in light of scripture
  • Leadership role with Logic School students
  • In-depth field trips
  • World view discussions

Rhetoric School Curriculum

Literature & Language

Students read classic literature that pertains to the time period they are studying, and this great literature serves as a launching point for their own writing and analysis.


Logic School students continue their cyclical study, digging deeper into the history of the world from Creation to the modern world. This parallels the history cycle that Oak Hill students have experienced in Grammar School and Logic School. However, at the Rhetoric School level, there is an increased emphasis on being able to understand both sides of a topic and to clearly articulate one side’s advantages. Students read classic literature that is aligned with the historical time period they are studying. There is also an increased emphasis on primary texts which allow students to support their positions with writings from the original time period.


Oak Hill uses a mastery approach for learning science which abandons the destructive cycle of cram-pass-forget. Rhetoric School students can participate in four years of science that prepare them for the most demanding universities and technical careers. The Rhetoric School sequence includes Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Anatomy. The science sequence is designed to synchronize with Oak Hill math courses so that students may experience science courses that include mathematical content appropriate for their grade level. Students engage in lab activities that reinforce the classroom learning. Using the principles of the Trivium, Rhetoric School science allows students to not only observe and understand natural phenomena, but also write clearly and speak persuasively about these topics.


Students have the opportunity to take Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, and Calculus. AP Calculus is planned as an option for 12th grade.


Students may continue advanced Latin studies and may take the AP Vergil Latin exam if they wish. The Oak Hill curriculum is designed so that new students (who have not taken Latin before) can join Rhetoric School classes and begin learning Latin at their appropriate level.


Formal rhetoric studies the art of speaking with wisdom and eloquence. It includes in-depth study of great speeches as well as careful preparation and oral delivery of speeches. Rhetorical study is preparation for Oak Hill’s capstone course, where seniors will prepare, deliver, and defend a thesis paper/project.