The Theory of Classical Education
Classical education is a time-tested Catholic tradition that equips students to live wisely, virtuously, and as free persons. Its core objective is to teach students to pursue truth, beauty, and goodness.
In the Catholic school context, it teaches them to love Jesus Christ, Who is Truth, Beauty, and Goodness incarnate. There are many other worthwhile educational goals with may be met, but these are secondary.
To accomplish the above objectives, classical schools prioritize the following
- Intentional integration of subject matter across disciplines.
- Instruction in grammar, logic, and rhetoric, so that students will know what is true, why it is true, and how to explain that truth to others.
- Regular memory training to combat the forgetfulness of the internet age
- The naming of virtues and affirmation of them in the lives of our students.
To read a more in-depth explanation, read the letter sent to parents.
The Practice of Classical Education
To support the proper implementation of a classical program for the students of Our Lady of the Rosary, we are making important changes to our curriculum, textbooks, and instructional practices.
Each day, immediately following prayer, pledge, and announcements, students will participate in about 10 minutes of recitation exercises. These will be conducted by the homeroom teacher.
The goal of daily recitation is to help students place the most important information from different subjects in their long-term memories. Some of the recitation content will be exactly the same across all grades, and other content will vary depending on what that classroom is studying.
Focus on Western Civilization
It is essential for students to know the history of their culture. In the United States, this history is mainly that of Western Civilization.
To aid the students’ progress toward a comprehensive appreciation of Western Civilization and its relationship to their own world, we have provided the following historical themes for the Lower School grades.
- K4-5 Classic Myths and Fairy Tales
- 1st Bible Times
- 2nd Ancient Greece and Rome
- 3rd Medieval Age
- 4th Modern Western Civ I: 1400-1865
- 5th Modern Western Civ II: 1865-Present
The Middle School curriculum repeats this content in a condensed form.
- 6th Ancient and Medieval History (Western Civilization I)
- 7th Modern European History (Western Civilization II)
- 8th United States History
The Upper School curriculum moves through the same sequence as the Middle School but with a greater focus on primary sources and subject integration.
The cyclical nature of the social studies curriculum will ensure that students actually know what happened historically and be able to make connects in their own lives.
As discussed in my previous letter, our teachers will seek opportunities to integrate different disciplines together when possible. The themed year approach will provide a helpful launching point for creativity. What might this look like in practice? Consider a few hypothetical examples of integrations:
A religion lesson compares the Greek gods with the Christian God of the Bible. Which of these do people still believe in and why? Or a science lesson could discuss the ingenuity of the Roman aqueducts that brought fresh water to the city. A project approach could have the students create their own simple aqueducts and learn about geometrical angles in the process.
A U.S. history essay requires students to evaluate arguments for and against slavery based on Catholic doctrine. The student receives a separate grade in each of three classes: social studies, religion, and English. This integration is possible even though these three courses are all taught by different teachers.
Latin replaces Spanish as the foreign language OLR students will study. Formal coursework begins in 4th grade and continues into the Upper School. For this year only 8th graders will still take Spanish and will have the option of receiving high school credit for that course.
The study of Latin is part and parcel of classical education. Unlike modern languages, Latin is a closed system with rules that do not change. It is not a dead language, but it is petrified. Therefore, the objective of study is not to converse in Latin. The purpose is to master the vocabulary and grammar of the language that is the foundation of English. This achieved, the student approaches her own English language with confidence and power.
Studying Latin produces proven benefits for students, including:
- An improved English vocabulary
- Better English grammar and writing skills
- A more logical mind
- An appreciation for the traditional worship of the Church
Faith Affirming Textbooks
OLR will strive whenever possible to use textbooks that affirm our Catholic Christian faith. This is necessary to validate the classical value of content integration. When textbooks ignore or even undermine the faith of students, they begin to think that religious teachings should be cordoned off in religion class. The truth is precisely the opposite. Our Catholic faith must permeate the teaching of every discipline at our school and remind our students continually of its reliability and relevance.
The following textbooks have been adopted in the last two years to bring our materials into better alignment with our faith. More changes are being considered for future years.
- Faith & Life Series for Religion: K5-8th grade
- The Story of Civilization for History: 1st-5th grade
- Rod & Staff for Math: K5-2nd grade
- Rod & Staff for Grammar: 3rd-5th grade
- Latin Christiana for Latin: 4th-7th grade
- The Catholic Textbook Project for History: 6th-8th
Additionally, all novels and other readings used in our classrooms will be evaluated for content. Ideally, the selection in question will:
- Lead students to a deeper love of truth, goodness, and beauty;
- Present age-appropriate examples of heroism and virtue in its characters
- Does it avoid content that is morally confusing or likely to undermine faith
- Present the Catholic Church as a blessed instrument of God’s grace
The OLR House System will provide fun opportunities for competition during the year. But it will also support the development of virtue in the lives of our students. Teachers will be able to award house points to students who demonstrate virtue in their daily actions, thus celebrating and reinforcing the best behaviors.