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The Heart of a Classical Curriculum is God

May 4, 2023

Dominican Sisters Choose Nation’s Poorest Diocese to Enliven Struggling Catholic School by Roxane Salonen at National Catholic Register. A goal will be to incorporate a strong classical liberal arts curriculum, matching what the popular public classical schools are offering—and then some. Biava said that during a visit, Sister Thomas [Aquinas] shared that “the heart of a classical curriculum is God,” noting, “You can’t say that at a public charter school. You can brush around it—beauty, truth and goodness—but in the end that’s all God, and [the other schools] are missing the most fundamental element: God himself.” Read


5 Ways to Make a 5th Grader Hate Learning by Monica Clarke and Valerie Hart at Catholic School Playbook. It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everything that is worth doing at school is worth grading, and that the best way to enhance a child’s engagement with an activity is to assign a grade to it. But to assume grades are the best or only motivation for learning is to grossly misunderstand a child’s nature. Children are not robots; they are human beings made in the image and likeness of their Creator. They have a natural sense of wonder about the world around them, which is why children in their natural state love to learn. Teachers can use grades responsibly to enrich a child’s learning experience, but they must be careful not to suppress a child’s wonder and love of learning by measuring and grading everything a child does at school. Read


Suicide, Depression, and a ‘Crisis of Hope’: Offering Real Help to Our Youth in Despair by Father Roger Landry at National Catholic Register. Gen Z, those born between 1999 and 2015, are experiencing a rapid decline of faith in God. Since 2010, religious practice among high schoolers has dropped 27%. Thirteen percent now define as atheist and 16% as agnostic. In his 2008 encyclical of Christian hope, Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict described hopelessness as St. Paul once did to the Christians in Ephesus, connecting those living “without hope” to those living “without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). Hope comes from recognizing, Pope Benedict said, that God is with us in the world, bringing good out of evil, bringing justice to victims, helping us find eternal meaning even in the most ordinary activities. Read


Can Religion Help Treat America’s Loneliness Epidemic? Surgeon General Says Yes by Kevin J. Jones at National Catholic Register. In 2018, only 16% of Americans reported feeling very attached to their local community. The surgeon general’s report notes the important role of religion in fostering social connection. “Religious or faith-based groups can be a source for regular social contact, serve as a community of support, provide meaning and purpose, create a sense of belonging around shared values and beliefs, and are associated with reduced risk-taking behaviors,” the surgeon general’s report said. Read


How Colleges Contribute to the Current Dating Crisis by Auguste Meyrat at Crisis Magazine. College has… become a place where students, particularly women, are discouraged from marriage altogether. According to a survey done earlier this year, 43 percent of young women with college degrees have no interest in dating, versus 34 percent of men. Furthermore, the majority of men and women report that the opposite sex falls short of their expectations. Read


What is the Relationship Between Wokeism, Marxism, and Liberalism? by Dr. Edward Feser at The Catholic World Report. Wokeism, [Yoram] Hazony points out, takes over this central Marxist theme and simply replaces economic status with race, sex, sexual orientation, and the like as the keys to demarcating oppressed and oppressing classes. Where the traditional Marxist focuses on the conflict between capitalists and the proletariat, the wokester speaks instead of “white supremacy” versus people of color, “patriarchy” versus women, “heteronormativity” versus LGBTQ, and so on. But the emphasis on group identity rather than individualism carries over from Marxism and marks a break with liberalism. Furthermore, Hazony points out, wokeism’s disdain for norms of rational discourse and inclination to cancel and censor opponents rather than engage their arguments differs from the liberal tradition’s idealization of free debate. Read


Are the Marxists on to Something? by James Kalb at The Catholic World Report. Current public thought needs to be replaced with something better. That will require, among other things, recognition—at first by some and then by many—of the fundamental problems of the current public order. There will need to be a general turn toward better ways of life and thought, and above all a return of transcendent goods—as a practical matter, God—into public life so it can be understood as more than a battle of wills. Read


Bishop Barron to Address Hillsdale Graduates by Matthew McDonald at National Catholic Register. Evangelical Protestant Hillsdale [College] is no longer affiliated with a denomination, but supports what it calls “natural law principles” and says “the moral tenets of Christianity … have been essential to the mission of the college.” “I’ve always admired them. They’re great defenders of the Western intellectual tradition, which I do think is under assault today,” Bishop Barron told the Register. Read


Culture of Fragility by Simone M. Sepe at First Things. Today, on campuses across America, administrators and faculty members promote the culture of fragility. They attempt to guide themselves and their students through a complex world using reason, but without committing to realism…. They are not openly anti-religious; however, religion, like everything else, is seen as one of the possible options in a demiurgic strategy to make others feel better. Although their intentions might be good, they are not preparing students to face “evil.” Evil exists in every reality, be it internal or external, and is the cost of our freedom. Read


Gabbard Warns Schools Dropping ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ Terminology is Not ‘Social Experiment’ by Heather Hamilton at Washington Examiner. [Regarding] a letter informing families of students at Founders Memorial School in Vermont that curricula would no longer use “male” or “female” terminology, [Former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi] Gabbard warned that it isn’t “some big social experiment.” …. “We are talking about our children here, and these teachers are telling our kids there is no such thing as objective truth,” Gabbard added. “The truth is whatever you want it to be, whatever you feel it should be, and whatever those in power tell you the truth is.” Read


Oklahoma Bishops Applaud Governor’s Signing of Bill Prohibiting Sex Changes for Minors by Joe Bukuras at Catholic News Agency. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a law Monday prohibiting gender reassignment surgery and hormone use for minors younger than 18 years old. The new legislation earned praise from the organization representing the state’s Catholic bishops. “Having worked closely with House and Senate authors, we commend Gov. Stitt for swiftly signing S.B. 613 into law and adding Oklahoma to the list of states protecting children from these dangerous and irreversible procedures,” Brett Farley, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, told CNA on Tuesday. Read


Throwback Thursday


Learning in Love by Elizabeth C. Corey at First Things in April 2014.

The authentic spring of liberal learning is simple: It is love. This love often originates in an uneasy sense of having missed something important and then—even as one is unsure of what it is—in desiring that something…. [I]n reflecting upon our own experiences of humanities education, we should ask first not “What should we put on the reading lists? Can we formulate a canon of greats? Why indeed should students be reading these books at all, rather than preparing for their future careers?” but rather “Who was it?” Who first showed us, as younger versions of ourselves, that we lacked something of importance? Who gave us a sense that our hopes of escaping the vulgarity and banality of popular culture might be satisfied, such that we now enjoy a qualitatively different kind of experience?.... [W]hat is required of us is not a drive to change an entire educational culture but a patient, self-assured carrying on of the tradition that has been handed down to us by our mentors. We need not worry that we are not reaching the entire world; we must instead be faithfully present to those whom choice or chance have put in our paths, showing them as best we can that this kind of study is emphatically worthy of love. Read

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