An Essay on A Curriculm for the Culture of Life: How to build a curriculum which reflects and nurtures the culture of life which is based upon the principle of the Incarnation.
"Our faith in the Incarnation leads us to believe that God means to give substance and life to the whole of human culture. Therefore we ask ourselves: What is Catholic education? For we know that a vigorous Catholic culture can arise only in proportion to our wisdom in answering that question.
Catholic education is the comprehensive system of interior formation which is ordered throughout by the concept and confidence in the Incarnation. The mystery of the Incarnation itself rests on an orderly sense of Creation and the confidence it gives is sustained in the face of sin by faith in the mystery of the Cross of Jesus.
Education for the culture of life:
To begin with, the purpose of education is the formation of the interior life: the spiritual, mental, and emotional life of the human person. Some of this formation is pursued directly by giving information about the interior life, first of all about faith. Theology is the intellectual expression of matters of faith. Wisdom admonishes us to impart this information in such an attractive manner that students will open their hearts as well as their minds, and allow themselves to be formed by it.
In a lesser sense, psychology and philosophy are also formative disciplines, especially when they are pursued in the light of faith.
In various other disciplines, mental formation is pursued indirectly as we obtain information about the world about us. It should be clearly understood, however, that all information is formative. In particular, it is important that general secular studies be pursued so as to help the student acquire an orderly understanding of the world. A sense of historical, sociological, artistic, or cosmological chaos will undermine faith as effectively as bad theology.
So begins an essay on the structure of a Catholic curriculum. This is not a practical guide in the sense of offering a comprehensive list of resources. I wish I thought that ideal resources were available in every domain, but many pieces are missing, while most are duplicated but always with missing parts. Nevertheless, some resources are listed, and the essay offers a perspective from which to evaluate the resources that you do use.
The essay is 88 pages long, spiral bound with a laminated chart laying out the relationships between the major disciplines and displaying the cultural and the anti-cultural approach to each discipline. Substantial margins in the essay are devoted to listing a few of the best resources.
This essay lays out the principles guiding the Hedge School. To see a schematic of the way it is laid out, and a table of contents for this website, go to:
Inevitably, whenever one offers a curriculum philosophy, the first question is: Where do you get the books? The curriculum I have in mind is not written, -- although it is being written -- some by me, some by others. Meantime, here is a summary of the concept of a Catholic curriculum, with (click the blue underlines) links to lists of some of the books we have enjoyed and found helpful over the years:
Theology is the Queen of the Sciences, because of concept of God governs all our thought, our confidence in thought, and our confidence (or not) in an orderly universe.
Philosophy is thinking about everything as a whole, including thinking about thinking itself.
Christian Psychology or Christian Anthropology is the study of the one who has a soul, of man, of the laws of holiness and prayer, or moral philosophy, and of how the mind and emotions work, including a response to secular psychology which deals only with these issues.
Once our attitude towards theology, philosophy, and psychology is settled, the ordinary pursuit of education is embodied in various disciplines.
First of all, literature is the lens of human culture. Whatever is written can be part of the next generation; that is the essence of culture. Literature is the art of words.
Science is the study of the things that can be numbered, measured, weighed, and ordered.
Civics is the business of ordering the close-living human community for its greatest peace and true happiness.
History is the memory of men's lives and an accounting for the rise and fall of culture.
Art is the study of how to produce things of beauty in the material world, the world of sound, color, and form.
Music is an art which particularly touches the spirit of man, for in its origin and nature, it uses the human voice and language; at the same time, it has elements of math and potentially of every discipline.