What Should Guide the Classical Education Movement?

"What Should Guide the Classical Education Movement?" by Fr. John Rickert, FSSP at Rorate Caeli

Nov 3, 2022

Classical education, in whatever form or implementation it takes, must be informed by the supernatural truth of the Catholic faith. Too often, I fear, “Classical curricula” are really some variant of Renaissance Humanism, which was a more-or-less conscious rejection of the Church and hence a move towards intellectual apostasy. To read, study, and discuss Plato and the Philosopher King, in and of itself, can be intellectually beneficial, but why should there be less interest in kings who were actually saints? Why should the wisdom of Plato be held in higher esteem than the divinely revealed wisdom of Solomon?

What Should Guide the Classical Education Movement? by Fr. John Rickert, FSSP at Rorate Caeli. Classical education, in whatever form or implementation it takes, must be informed by the supernatural truth of the Catholic faith. Too often, I fear, “Classical curricula” are really some variant of Renaissance Humanism, which was a more-or-less conscious rejection of the Church and hence a move towards intellectual apostasy. To read, study, and discuss Plato and the Philosopher King, in and of itself, can be intellectually beneficial, but why should there be less interest in kings who were actually saints? Why should the wisdom of Plato be held in higher esteem than the divinely revealed wisdom of Solomon? Read

 

A Catholic School Moment? by Jay Boren at Crisis Magazine. This tumult in public education has opened a door not only for Catholic schools but also for the Catholic Church in America. Many parents intuit that there is something wrong with these ideologies, especially as their children are being indoctrinated in them. They may not be able to articulate a Christian anthropology or be well versed in the Theology of the Body, but they know that what their children are being taught is wrong. This is a tremendous moment for the Church in America. A Catholic school, rightly oriented, is uniquely situated to offer an alternative to the secular ideologies of our age. As parents seek out our schools, we have a unique opportunity to evangelize them as we teach their children. They have found their public school lacking. It is our job now to give them what they were missing and desperately need. Read

 

Catholic Schools Held Steady During Height of COVID, Relying on Faith and Fundamentals by Susan Klemond at National Catholic Register. Catholic schools benefit from families who are often more committed both by finances and time and because they and the school have a sense of mission, according to Mary Pat Donohue, executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Catholic Education. They also benefit from subsidiarity, as authority that makes decisions is closer to the child than in public schools. “We see education as incarnational: It’s a reality that happens in person; it’s relational; it’s built on the relation of the teacher and the students, which can’t fully be conducted in a virtual environment,” she told the Register. Read

 

Notre Dame: Is It Still Catholic? by Thomas Shaffern at Crisis Magazine. How did we get to the point where the most prominent Catholic university in the United States employs, and probably will not fire, [a person who has offered and promoted abortion access to Notre Dame students, despite university policy and Indiana law]? It is no secret that other universities, such as Steubenville, Ave Maria, and others have taken up the mantle as great Catholic universities in the United States. While American Catholics certainly welcome their rise, one has to ask, why was that needed at all? The answer seems a simple one. Notre Dame cares more about being just another elite university as opposed to being an elite Catholic university. The administration at Notre Dame is far more concerned with receiving compliments from The New York Times than receiving compliments from Catholic families who sacrificed to send their children there. Read

 

The Silent Majority Opposes Transgender Activism in Schools, Supports Parents’ Rights by Tyler O’Neil at The Daily Signal. A whopping 72% of registered voters said schools should not teach children that they can change their gender, while 62% said that “it is never appropriate” for schools to teach kids that they can change their gender, according to an RMG Research poll commissioned by America’s New Majority Project. Read

 

One Year After Youngkin Victory, Education Once Again Takes Center Stage in Virginia by Jeremiah Poff at Washington Examiner. Republican Hung Cao, a political newcomer seeking to unseat two-term incumbent and former prosecutor Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D), is leaning into the [Virginia Gov. Glenn] Youngkin playbook of support for parental rights in his bid for Congress…. Cao was a member of the inaugural graduating class at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a magnet school in Alexandria, Virginia, that has been mired in controversy after the Fairfax County School Board overhauled its admissions process from a purely merit based system to a test and lottery system in an attempt to raise the number of black students attending the school…. Cao... noted that the two-term congresswoman had received the support of Elizabeth Guzman, a Virginia state delegate who introduced legislation seeking to expand the definition of criminal child abuse to include parents who did not affirm their children's chosen gender or sexual identity. If elected, Cao said he plans on introducing a "parent bill of rights" that will expressly limit the role of government in family life. Read

 

Throwback Thursday

 

Catholic Identity in Light of the Academic Curriculum by Arthur Hippler at Institute for Catholic Liberal Education in 2019. Many if not most Catholic schools have science, history, and literature curricula that are identical to their secular counterparts. The acceptance of secular curricula in Catholic schools is even treated as a sign of academic excellence (e.g. Advanced Placement courses)…. Cardinal Newman over a century ago explained the problem with this approach. A curriculum that acknowledges God as the universal cause of creation with theology as its center cannot and should not look the same as a curriculum for which this principle is doubted or denied. Why? Theology asserts that "All that is good, all that is true, all that is beautiful, all that is beneficent, be it great or small, be it perfect or fragmentary, natural as well as supernatural, moral as well as material, comes from Him." As a logical consequence, theology "considered as knowledge" must be expected "to exert a powerful influence on philosophy, literature, and every intellectual creation or discovery whatever." Newman asks rhetorically, "Does [theology] cast no light upon history? Has it no influence upon the principles of ethics? Is it without any sort of bearing on physics, metaphysics, and political science? Can we drop it out of the circle of knowledge, without allowing, either that that circle is thereby mutilated, or on the other hand, that theology is really no science?" Read