The ability to think is the goal of a Classical Education. We want the Saint Mary child to acquire the art of learning and to delight in it. In the context of a Catholic School, this means that the child and every subject encountered is viewed through the lens of Jesus Christ and His Church.
How is this done?
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Here are some examples of what Classical Catholic Education might look like at Saint Mary.
MASTERY OF SUBJECTS- Saint Mary School will strive to give students the training, the tools and the time needed to lay the foundation for mastery in their academic subjects. For example, in Math, through the use of manipulatives and visualization, students will develop number sense and a conceptual understanding of problem solving. Students will not only understand "how" something works (like long division) but also "why" it works. When given the tools and confidence to master a subject, students will be able to apply those tools in other areas throughout their educational journey.
SOCRATIC DISCUSSION Recognizing that children are made in the image and likeness of God, a classical education seeks to draw out of students what is uniquely human in them. The ability to remember, question and deliberate will be developed through Socratic discussion. By asking a series of open-ended questions, teachers will lead the students to seek and discover answers on their own, listen respectfully to what others say without interruption, and speak clearly.
LEARNING THROUGH DISCOVERY Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen once observed that education often becomes "the transferring of information from the teacher's manual to the student's notebook without passing through the mind of either." Saint Mary School seeks to engage staff and students in an environment where observation is emphasized. Rather than passive instruction, teachers will integrate hands-on projects whenever possible to help cultivate the students ability to look, see and notice. From Science "experiments" to performing scenes from their Literature study, teachers strive for opportunities to engage the whole child.
LIVING BOOKS The study of History, Science and Math will be supplemented by age-appropriate literature relating to the subject. When studying World War II, students may read the story Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, about a young girl in Nazi-occupied Denmark helping her Jewish friend escape to Sweden. When learning to carefully observe nature in the study of animals and plants, children may listen to the story The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps, by Jeanette Winter, and be inspired by scientist Jane Goodall and her work in the jungle. Students studying Ancient History and upper level Math may see these two subjects converge in the story of the Greek mathematician Eratoshenes. In The Librarian Who Measured the Earth, by Kathryn Lasky, students have the opportunity to experience life in Ancient Greece as they uncover advances in early Geometry. Integrating stories into the education of our children, helps to pull them in, making the subjects come alive in unforgettable ways.
INTEGRATED VIRTUE FORMATION The Disciple of Christ, Education in Virtue program was developed by the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist and based on St. Thomas Aquinas' teachings on the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Rather than a "subject" that is taught independent of other subjects, staff seek to integrate the Education in Virtue program through all subjects. Virtue (and lack there of) is discovered in the characters and stories explored in Literature and History. Through discipline and encouragement, students are given the instruction and example of virtue that will help them to form the habits and dispositions necessary to live as a disciple of Christ.
TECHNOLOGY, AT THE SERVICE OF LEARNING Technology is a wonderful tool that has the capacity to support the mission of the school. As one of many tools, technology will be at the service of the student and teacher and never the other way around. Because premature and excessive use of technology can undermine the qualities and skills education seeks to cultivate, its use will be limited. Technology will not be taught as an end itself but will primarily be used by teachers and students for research and discovery.