Frequently Asked Questions
What is Classical Education?
A classical curriculum is based in history, in curricula that came before. It is founded on a principle not of innovation, but of looking to the wisdom of the ancients to preserve the best. If there has been any change over the centuries in the arts, it has not been in their substance but in the greater organization and refinement of its elements so that the truth would be more clearly understood and its arts more easily mastered.
A classical curriculum includes the 7 liberal arts primarily. Like all good things, it must have a proper order. To order things well, we must know the end to which they should be ordered. The proper end of the liberal arts is Wisdom. Seeking wisdom also goes by the name Philosophy. Thus, it is called a philosophical education, because it has Wisdom as its purpose. Wisdom in turn, leads to happiness. St. Thomas Aquinas states in his commentary on Aristotle “omnes artes ordinantur in unum, scilicet, ad hominis perfectionem, quae est eius beatitudo” (the arts are ordained to one thing, namely, to man’s perfection, which is happiness).
Why is Classical Education desirable for children?
One important aspect of a classical education is the formation students in moral wisdom, which goes beyond simply teaching right from wrong. The aim of moral philosophy is a blessed or happy (beatus) life. One practical purpose of Moral Philosophy is to “win students to virtue”, by knowing and understanding virtue and thus “exciting the will to the good”. Blessed Louis of Grenada says this about virtue: “According to Aristotle, no worldly advantage can equal the excellence of virtue, nor is any loss so great that a wise man should not suffer it rather than yield to vice. There is nothing more pleasing to God than virtue, nothing He more earnestly requires.”
In addition, their intellectual life will come alive as they learn how to speak, write, and read with erudition, then learn how to think precisely in accord with the rules of classical logic, and learn how to persuade others of the truth or falsity of any imaginable proposition through their study of rhetoric. Equipped with the tool of logic, they will be able to master the mathematical quadrivium, which deal with different species of quantity: arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy.
What can we expect to see in our school, and for what purpose?
Parents can expect to see their children grow intellectually, morally and spiritually, in every human dimension, in a way that may seem beyond their years. This is the fruit and result of an education that is oriented towards wisdom and virtue, and has the happiness with God forever as its object.
What about STEM education? Won’t my child be left behind?
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education presupposes students can write, read and speak well, as well as think logically and communicate with others in a persuasive manner. A classical liberal arts education forms students in these skills and thus prepares them for all other subjects by giving them a firm foundation in fundamental competencies.
As for each subject particularly, the classical mathematical training in the liberal arts surpasses the minimum requirements of every Mathematics program in the US today.
Science is treated in what is called “natural philosophy”, which dives much deeper into the causes of nature than experimental science, and is the grounding for modern science. Scientists up until modern times were called “natural philosophers”.
Technology is simply the application of knowledge to create a tool. Classical education does not study specific tools, but the principles by which all tools are created, are composed, and function for a specific purpose. We investigate these principles with our innate and natural tool, which is our reason or intellect.
Engineering requires mathematics, natural philosophy, and specifically geometric knowledge, which as described above is covered and exceeds minimum requirements.
It is rare if not unknown for modern programs to provide adequate and effective STEM education, because often basic reading, writing, and speaking skills, along with reasoning and communication skills are not effectively mastered before students move on to STEM studies.
Is this too rigorous for every kind of learner? What about children with special needs?
Although some students are naturally gifted with greater scholastic aptitude than others and are thus best suited to the rigor and challenge of classical studies, students with special needs can also benefit from classical education according to their capacity and development in human formation.
Will my child be college and career ready?
College admission is not the aim of Classical education, but nonetheless it leads to the formation of graduates who exceed most requirements for even the most prestigious schools. There is no better formation for the human intellect and will. When we aim at human flourishing in faith, wisdom, and virtue, we certainly attain—and far exceed—the aims of college and career readiness. These students are prepared to be the moral and intellectual leaders of the future.
How can I support these expanded learning opportunities at home?
The best way to support your children is to learn the classical liberal arts curriculum for yourself. This may be unpracticable for many parents, so in lieu of becoming students of the liberal arts yourselves, you can pray for your children, that they may have the grace to be formed as God wills them to be formed in their education.
What are the expected outcomes of this approach to education?
The most basic expected outcome is as what the Jesuits called a “vir bonum, docendi peritus” a good person, (who is) skilled in teaching. At the end of the curriculum, students should master the arts and become as their teachers are, expert in the arts of language (grammar), thinking (logic), persuasion (rhetoric), and quantity (math).
Beyond that, they will have become lovers of wisdom (philosophers), and will have mastered the basics of the sacred science (Theology).
For advanced students, they will have proven erudite scholars of Latin, Greek and Hebrew, History, Classic Literature, and other humanities.
In addition to those, all students will have demonstrated competency in modern subject requirements, mandated by the state of Wisconsin. These modern subjects will be attended to with the highest efficiency, wasting no time that could be used for classical studies.