Know Thyself: Catholic Classical Education and the Discovery of Self by Andrew Youngblood

(Park Ridge: Word on Fire, 2023), 184

Classical Catholic education immerses students in the unity of truth, transforms them through a metaphysical worldview, and, through engaging discussion, encourages them to embrace a life of flourishing fulfilled in God's call to divine intimacy with Christ in his Church.

Teachers are artists. And great teachers make some of the most indelible and beautiful art ever made.(25)

Classical learning is for everyone—and when that classical learning is directed toward the eternal truth, all roads lead to Christ. (66)

Some hallmarks of classical education mentioned in the text:

  • Pedagogy focused on Socratic seminar
  • Internalization and mastery of key concepts and definitions as the result of repetition
  • Integrated approach where all areas of study are one interconnected search for truth
  • Focus on the Transcendentals of truth, goodness, and beauty
  • Rely on primary texts rather than textbooks as intermediaries
  • Allow students to be more in control of their education by giving them insight into the learning process (meta-awareness)

Notes


Contents


Foreword

by Dale Ahlquist

Introduction

Link

Part I: Understanding Classical Catholic Education

  • Classical Catholic education immerses students in the unity of truth, transforms them through a metaphysical worldview, and, through engaging discussion, encourages them to embrace a life of flourishing fulfilled in God's call to divine intimacy with Christ in his Church. (19)

    Chapter 1: Education

  • Brideshead Revisited teaches us that no one is able to journey for another (17, 21)

  • Education attempts to transfer knowledge to someone new and create that reality within them (23)
  • The acquisition of new knowledge is analogous to a birth with the teacher acting as a midwife (24, cf. Theaetetus)
  • “Teachers are artists. And great teachers make some of the most indelible and beautiful art ever made.” (25)
  • Education is the process of being molded (educare) and led (educere)
  • Allow students to be more in control of their education by giving them insight into the learning process (meta-awareness)
  • Education is a journey, about which we can learn much from The Odyssey (28)

Chapter 2: Catholic Education

  • The journey of education is ultimately a journey with God and to God (35)
  • High school is not fulfilling its ultimate purpose if it does not offer an environment where students can encounter the love of Jesus Christ (36)

Chapter 3: Classical Catholic Education

  • Some hallmarks of Catholic Classical education: desks facing each other for seminars emphasize the importance of discussion, internalization and mastery are the result of repetition, it is naturally differentiated to students at different skill levels
  • Integrated approach: all areas of study are one interconnected search for truth, cf. Thales of Miletus, the father of modern science and philosophy
  • The Transcendentals: truth, goodness, and beauty are the aspects of being common to all things that transcend any particular classification, the foundation of metaphysics, and they ultimately point to God
  • Socratic Seminar: the teacher acts as guide and mentor, giving the students a voice
  • Church as Guide: Classical Catholic education is rooted in the person of Christ and his Church. "The Church's vision for education is classical" (61 cf. Denver Catholic)

Part II: Discovering Christ in the Classroom

  • The next four chapters map to the four periods of salvation history: anticipation, incarnation, culmination, application

    Chapter 4: The Ancient World: Longing for Christ

Summary: Humanity of the ancient world longed for something greater, as we see in the Iliad and Odyssey and the philosophical writings of Aristotle. The world was slowly being prepared for the coming of Christ, and Christ can be found in every aspect of the classroom.

  • The Iliad expresses the longing of the Greeks for something more, for a love they did not know or understand, and we see Hector as the beloved son sent to die for the sins of others.
    • These Christological and Eucharistic overtones are especially present in the last pages of the Iliad.
  • Aristotle developed the notion of the Prime Mover in Metaphysics, the one and indivisible, eternal, good, and beautiful being that we call God.
  • Classical education emphasizes the continuous conversation that arcs across the various subjects and years
  • God is the Lord of history, and he prepared humanity to receive his Son

Chapter 5: The Incarnation: Christian Anthropology

Summary: The birth of Christ changed human history and provided an answer to our longing and desire; it creates the Christian worldview. All learning is incarnational in that it gives birth in us to a truth that exists independently outside of us.

  • The goal of classical Catholic education is the create environments where students can encounter God's love (90); everything about the school points to the reality of God's love (101)
  • Christian anthropology: we see ourselves most clearly when we understand ourselves through God's revelation and reflected in the face of Christ (91)
  • Teach students about learning (epistemology)
  • Philosophy and logic develop the metaphysical worldview that helps us understand Christian anthropology, and these are the basis of "critical thinking"
  • The incarnation also teaches us the value of redemptive suffering
  • Lessons from Les Miserables: when they are loved, they will learn (102)
  • The liberal arts are the tools needed to live in true freedom

Chapter 6: Christendom: Scholars and Saints

Summary: The saints are examples of holy zeal to which teenagers can aspire: God's love is revolutionary.

  • The High Middle Ages was the age of faith and reason, the true Age of Enlightenment (110)
  • Thomas Aquinas was a rebel and a revolutionary, and a model for the synthesis of classical and Catholic education (113)
  • Read John of the Cross and Teresa of Ávila to see what our relationship with God could look like

Chapter 7: The Modern Era: Secular Anthropology

Summary: Either we allow God's revelation to form our anthropology, or we define ourselves apart from God. Descartes introduced methodological doubt, leading to skepticism, leading ultimately to nihilism as the natural conclusion of a secular anthropology, and this trend did not spare education. Chesterton and John Paul II stand as great defenders of a Christian anthropology against these trends in modern times.

  • The Pardoner's tale (Canterbury Tales) illustrates how greed is the root of all evil
  • St. Faustina: ~Diary Divine Mercy In My Soul (126)
  • Descartes introduced doubt and became the Father of Modern Philosophy (Cogito, ergo sum, I think, therefore I am). Nietzsche proclaimed the death of belief in God, meaning that truth and morals do not exist and existence itself is meaningless: we have inherited this nihilism.
  • "As society lost its understanding of the human person, so also was the purpose of education lost." (132)
  • The Great Gatsby illustrates this secular anthropology: it promotes nihilism and shows what insipid and meaningless love looks like
  • Give your students (and yourself) a comprehensive, detailed, and complete study of the faith by going directly to Scripture and the Catechism (139)
    • "Nothing can better prepare the student for the personal encounter with the Lord than a deep immersion into the truth of God's revelation." (140)
    • St. Thomas: "The heart cannot love what the mind does not know" (140, cf. Summa Theologiae 2-2.27.1)
  • "Truth and freedom either go together hand in hand or together they perish in misery." (Fides et Ratio 90)
  • True freedom is born from holiness! (145)

Conclusion

  • "This Christian worldview presents a vision of the human person as understood through the love of our Creator and Redeemer. It shows us how good and important we are and how much dignity we have as sons and daughters of the Father. It is a world of beauty and truth where people strive to be the best version of themselves, not out of vanity or overcompensation for low self-esteem, but because we know ourselves to be loved and called to a life of excellence, a life that Aristotle called eudaimonia." (153)
    • →see the Nicomachean Ethics 10 for Aristotle's guide to his son of how to live well and attain eudaimonia

Further Reading


Topic: Classical Education

Source


Created: 2023-11-08-Wed
Updated: 2024-02-08-Thu