This series outlines the purpose, structure, curricular content, and communal origins of a Catholic classical education, for the sake of establishing a School dedicated to such an education in the Diocese of Wichita (Kansas). It discusses both the general principles of Catholic classical education as well as some particular points regarding that School. We begin by explaining the purpose and educational vision of the School, then consider the reasons for the order and structure of its curriculum, before discussing each class in the curriculum. Lastly, we describe the community required to achieve the goals of Catholic classical education.
The curriculum requires foundational preparations in piety and a musical education in a broad sense. Piety is the virtue by which one renders what is owed to one’s causes or origins, those responsible for one’s existence, birth, and education. Musical education is not exclusively learning to sing or play instruments, but the cultivation of the capacity to love the good and be moved by the beautiful in reality. Gymnastic, or various forms of physical exercise and training, are part of a musical education in this general sense.
Students are in this way prepared by acquiring a love of learning. They are ready for the liberal arts. These seven arts contain the skills of thinking well and discerning the truth, which are the necessary precursors to the intellectual virtues. They are split into two groups: the Trivium—grammar, logic, and rhetoric—and the Quadrivium—arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. In turn, the liberal arts are meant to lead to the cultivation of the other intellectual virtues corresponding to the disciplines of human and divine knowledge—philosophy and theology.
Philosophy is the intellectual virtue that most perfects the human mind, naturally speaking. The curriculum does not propose philosophy in an academic sense, an abstract consideration of hypothetical concept-games, but philosophy as it was for Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Boethius, or St. Thomas Aquinas, namely, the unified knowledge of creation in light of its Creator. The work of Catholic classical education is completed by theology, which seeks knowledge of God insofar as He has revealed Himself to man. Theology, sacred wisdom, is both the highest intellectual virtue as well as the highest practical virtue.
In what follows, we discuss the order of Catholic classical education as well as the various classes envisioned for its curriculum. This curriculum includes classes in religion, physical education, Latin, grammar, literature, history, music, mathematics, and the sciences. It aims to give students a complete formation in virtue so that they are better able know, love, and serve God in this life and to dwell in the supernatural happiness of union with God forever.