I felt vaguely pretentious this past Tuesday at my evening class when I answered where I worked:
St. Regis Academy.
Academy really does have a different connotation than school, doesn't it? The school was renamed (and rebranded) over the summer to reflect the curriculum shift to a classical-style curriculum. It can also be labeled as a liberal education style. But what does that even mean?
The Catholic Institute for Liberal Education (who has provided a workshop and other resources for my coworkers and I) uses the words virtue and beauty to guide their mission and curriculum development. A classical curriculum focuses on what Philippians 4:8 encourages us to remain focused on: the good, noble, wonderful, and truthful. Most importantly, a classical education does not exclude the presence of other subjects, particularly religion, in its conversation. Ultimately, the model helps students return, again and again, to the Truth: God created the world and everything in it, including what we learn in school each day.
Our academy approach chooses real books over annotated textbooks, uses basic education principals like repetition and practice, the physical act of writing, Socratic and mimetic teaching, and the use of excellent examples of literature and art. It is return to the greats, the classics, the truly remarkable and beautiful. But it also understands learning better, encouraging teachers to meet students where they are and provide scaffolding and support to each learner. The new good parts of the new are included (true differentiation, a better understanding of different learning styles, and educational styles) while the best of the old is incorporated in as well.
A liberal education not only teaches facts and figures, skills and rules, but also teaches critical thinking and reasoning alongside beautiful conversations that return, again and again to Christ. It creates an educational space that allows students to not only learn about the incredible creation of God, but to wonder at it, allowing students to say "wow".
So really, the Academy isn't pretentious; its beautiful. We may not have stone columns and arches, but inside our school, we are cultivating a new generation of scholars who are faithful to their loving Father.
First year Catholic educator in the Classical curriculum style. I teach middle school English-Language Arts.