The Iron Advantage
From an academic perspective, the middle school will focus upon mastery of the academic basics—”essentialism”—while simultaneously incorporating increasingly complex critical thinking skills into each unit, preparing a strong foundation for later academic success. Also, because our global marketplace rewards those who are most adept at processing written information and communicating effectively, Iron Academy will dedicate additional classes focused on reading throughout the middle school years and will intentionally develop public speaking skills in each class. Mastery of the basics in middle school will prepare the young men well for the transition to an academic curriculum in the high school increasingly devoted to the time-honored liberal arts tradition and Advanced Placement courses.
Throughout the Iron Academy experience, the goal of academic delivery will be to maximize the learning potential of each student. Iron Academy is on the cutting edge with employing teaching techniques that help us convert as much of the essentials into working memory and long-term memory. Though young men learn very similarly to young women in many aspects, it is the contention of Iron Academy that there are subtle but crucial differences that must be considered if we are to deliver a preeminent education.
First, young men’s brains work more efficiently when rigorous academic sessions are separated by vigorous exercise. Iron Academy classes will be preceded by short bursts of physical activity. The practice is not traditional, but it should be.
Second, creating highly engaging (often active) linkages to the material has been proven to boost the learning outcome for young men. As an example, our Ecology classes have four field trips across North Carolina’s geography and seasons throughout the class. It is one thing to read about the flora and fauna’s diversity throughout our state, but to see the differences between Grandfather Mountain and Roatan National Forest in winter, fall, and spring converts book knowledge to lifelong and accessible knowledge.
Third, young men respond much more favorably to teachers who truly know them and love them. Knowing the students at Iron Academy is a core calling for the teachers and staff at Iron Academy. The small classrooms, the rites of passage, and the emphasis on biblical manhood are all dependent upon the purposeful development of strong teacher/student relationships. In addition, Iron Academy will never be a densely-populated, one-size-fits-all school. In order to develop meaningful relationships with every student and to address the unique needs of our young men, Iron Academy has chosen never to be a large school. We provide an educational environment for the exceptional young man. The average boy and the average family will not likely find our focus on all-male education and biblical manhood to be appealing. Iron Academy exists for a select group of young men and parents.
Fourth, teamwork and competition—two things that often do not intellectually stimulate females—are almost universally effective when used judiciously with male students.
Fifth, Iron Academy's foundation upon the Iron Honor Code—esteemed by returning students and taught to new students—eventually but always yields a greater commitment to genuine scholarship.
Sixth, the emphasis upon virtue literature in all English Language Arts classes from seventh through twelfth grade cultivates a desire for the good life—a God-honoring life of virtue and excellence. Our students will explore virtue through reading, writing, and speaking. All classes prepare our young men to think and communicate rightly about the cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, and courage; the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love; and the heavenly virtues of chastity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. To frame the virtues attractively for young men, all staff members are trained how to recognize, encourage, and build people in the virtues and their dispositions from an honor code perspective.
Finally, educational psychologists are increasingly publishing evidence of the advantages available in a single-sex educational environment. We have known for many years of the value of girls-only schools. We now know the same is true for male-only institutions. It is the objective of Iron Academy to shrewdly assemble educational methodology that is most effective at teaching young men.
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