Catholic classical schools quickly growing in demand

Sep 10, 2014 by

by Rachel Daly – MANASSAS, Va. – Nationwide, classical schools, both diocesan and independent, are springing up and eliciting interest from other schools and groups. Efforts to revitalize classical Catholic education have garnered interest from parents, teachers, and many others who want to copy the model, according to the National Catholic Register.

According to the Register, “classical education tries to form and develop students’ natural capacities for understanding and action and ground them in moral, intellectual and theological virtues.” It is structured around the trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy), and also includes study of the liberal arts (literature, poetry, drama, philosophy,history, art and languages). It emphasizes pursuit of the good, the true, and the beautiful, and it places Christ and the Incarnation at its center.

There are now reportedly 12 diocesan classical schools in the United States, as well as several schools that identify themselves as independent in the Catholic tradition. Some, such as Chesterton Academy in Edina, Minn., were created by parents wishing to take an active hand in providing their children an educational foundation in Western culture. Others, such as St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Md., are the result of transformations to existing schools. St. Jerome’s principal, Mary Pat Donoghue, reportedly called the school’s transformation “successful beyond my imagination.”

Three more Chesterton-model schools will reportedly open this fall, and reportedly, according to Deacon Michael McKeating, founder and headmaster of a new Chesterton school in Buffalo,N.Y., “There’s an enormous amount ofinterest … My phone is ringing off the hook.”

Furthermore, these schools are developing their own curricula. Although they are not geared toward standardized tests, the schools’ administrators express confidence that their students will have the higher thinking skills necessary to reason their way through any standardized testing they must undertake. In many cases, the schools have already seen higher test scores, as well as increased enrollment.

“We don’t want our children to aim for college and a career. We want them to aim for the good life,” reportedly said Michale Van Hecke, headmaster of St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, Calif., and founder and president of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, highlighting the fundamental incompatibility between Christian classical education and the goals and methods of the Common Core.

Andrew Seeley, executive director of the Institute, reportedly said that the goal of classical schools was “A Christ-illuminated understanding of what the human person is in all our capacities,” and added that “We want people to be able to stand up and defend the faith in a public way with confidence and with a certain artistic ability to articulate … Everything we do at school directs them towards that. We want them to live happy lives, but we also want them to be (Catholic) warriors, defending the Catholic faith.”

A list of resources on Catholic classical schools can be found here.

"Originally published by Catholic Education Daily, an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society."

via Catholic classical schools quickly growing in demand

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