This issue of Beyond the Test is dedicated to these neglected aspects of every serious liberal arts education. Dr. Jake Noland explains how his logic course introduces students not only to the rules of correct thinking but to the Logos that is present in nature and revelation. Our second featured article takes a look at how experienced teachers use math to inculcate virtue, inspire wonder, and engage creativity. Our Featured Resources are books recommended by Dr. Noland, Socratic Logic and A Concise Introduction to Logic. We also Focus On: St. Thomas More Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he teaches, as an example of how joy and love permeate academic institutions devoted to the Truth that sets us free.
I hope that you find this issue dedicated to logic and math helpful to you as you work to provide the best Catholic education for today’s students and families, or as you support Catholic education through your time, prayer, resources and encouragement. You can explore the whole range of Catholic liberal arts education as lived in today’s schools through the back issues of Beyond the Test available on our website.
We have added a feature to our Raphael’s Room blog. The ICLE Reading Room includes the best recent articles on issues connected to Catholic liberal education that we have found online. I have put a few samples below, along with items of interest from organizations that share our hope for a complete renewal of Catholic schools. You can keep up with our regular posts by following our Facebook page
Finally, I am happy to announce that, in addition to our CIT webinar discussing history through Herodotus and Thucydides, November will also see the first of our Spirit and Craft webinars. On Tuesday, November 17, David Stiennon of St. Ambrose Academy in Wisconsin will explain how his small school was able to establish an effective Development Office.
Please continue to pray for our efforts to support Catholic teachers. So many opportunities, so little time.
Andrew T. Seeley, PhD
The American Federation Pueri Cantores shares our conviction that the Church’s choral heritage exercises a powerful formative experience in Catholic identity. Through their Vatican and NCEA approved Festivals, AFPC conductors work with school choirs around the country. This spring their Festivals will draw choirs representing 3000 students; in the near future they hope to increase that number to 10,000 students from 400 school choirs.
The Augustine Institute in Denver plans to award four full-tuition and eight partial-tuition scholarships this year, including the Brébeuf Scholarship, a half-tuition scholarship for students entering the M.A. Leadership for the New Evangelization degree program and the Newman Scholarship, a half-tuition scholarship for students entering the M.A. Theology degree program.
Dr. Ryan N.S. Topping, Fellow of Thomas More College, has published two works that promise to be of immense help to our work. The Case for Catholic Education: Why Parents, Teachers and Politicians Should Reclaim the Principles of Catholic Pedagogy will help pastors, parents, teachers and board members convince their academic communities of the need to embrace a Catholic liberal arts approach to education. For those ready to go deeper, Dr. Topping has provided Renewing the Mind: A Reader in the Philosophy of Catholic Education. “With carefully selected readings from classical, patristic, medieval, modern, and contemporary sources, Renewing the Mind proposes the Catholic tradition as the noblest and best hope for a recovery of humane learning in our time….[It] includes an introductory essay on the history and renewal of Catholic education, followed by 38 selections each with an introduction, biography, and study questions; adorning the text throughout are illustrations from the National Gallery of Art.”
From the ICLE Reading Room
Five Temptations for Classical Christian Education by Brian Douglas contains important warnings, graciously expressed: "The second temptation is to believe that academic rigor plus disciplined behavior equals a good education. It is easy for a classical Christian school to become known more for its uniforms, homework expectations, strictness, and the like, than for its gracious, loving environment....When this happens, students may learn to jump through the hoops, obey the rules, do the right things, but they do not learn to love God and others. That is moralism, the worst enemy of true Christianity."
The Great Gift of Reading Aloud by Meghan Cox Gurdon is a beautiful encouragement for parents, and we hope teachers as well. We want teachers at all levels to read aloud to their students, many of whom will never experience it otherwise: “Both grown-ups and children are missing something when there is no reading aloud. The children's loss is hateful to contemplate: the fabulous illustrations they will not see, the esoteric vocabulary they may never hear, the thrilling epics they will never embark upon. But grown-ups lose too: They forgo a precious point of sustained connection and a lot of goofy fun (one friend's father used to read The Happy Lion in a John Wayne drawl), as well as the opportunity to pass on literary favorites.”
Barbarians at the Gates of Realville by Peter Burfeind reminded me that, sometimes, when you think people are honestly mistaken, or simply silly, you become shocked to discover the iceberg of dark philosophy that lies beneath the surface. Mr. Burfeind argues for a Gnostic coherence to many contemporary currents of thought directly opposed by classical education:
"But don’t miss the role the collapse of language plays in the move to unity. As long as language is accepted as possible, sequential, illuminating, defining, and reflective of natural truths, it gets in the way of the move toward unity."