The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education will host its first national conference to help educators to implement a classical and Catholic liberal arts education at their schools.
“The success of this model has captured the attention of bishops, superintendents, administrators, teachers, and parents,” said Dr. Andrew Seeley, the Institute's director.
“As the movement spreads, classical Catholic educators are seeking ways to collaborate, to share their enthusiasm and experience with other pioneers who see in this approach a potential Renaissance for Catholic education.”
The conference will be held July 11-14 at Canandaigua Lake in upstate New York. It will feature speakers, workshops, and discussions, allowing educators to share “best practices” for Catholic schools. The workshops will discuss not only how to form students by curricula, but faculty as well.
Classical education, the institute explained, is meant to help students learn how to think, giving them “the tools of lifelong learning,” rather than merely teaching them “subjects.” The foundation of classical education is a set of three methods of learning subjects, called the trivium, which consists of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.
“By uniting faith and reason across the curriculum, this approach aims to form students in wisdom and virtue,” the institute added. Classical Catholic education is also meant to “form an educational community that is fully Catholic,” rather than being merely “secular schools with a Catholic name and a religion class.”
Speakers at the conference will include Mary Pat Donoghue, principal at St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Md., and Kevin Roberts, headmaster of John Paul the Great Academy in Lafayette, Louis.
Some 40 to 60 Catholic elementary and high schools have adopted the classical model, with many reporting subsequent growth and improved academic performance.
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Denver, Colo. is in its first year of a three-year process of introducing a classical curriculum. By doing so, it has nearly doubled its enrollment.
The school's principal, Rosemary Anderson, told CNA in October that “the classical approach is Catholic, through and through.” She was encouraged in her decision to adopt a classical model by Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, who was at the time auxiliary bishop of Denver.
“We're not necessarily changing the material we're teaching, but how it's given to the kids, which is a step away from dependency on textbooks,” said Anderson.
St. John's Catholic School in Beloit, Kan. has also adopted an integrated humanities program, based on the classical model and meant to revitalize Catholic identity and culture at the school.
The school's high school theology teacher, Andrew Niewald, told CNA in November that the school is giving students “an experience of the faith,” rather than solely intellectual formation.
St. John's principal said, “It is important that we challenge our students not only to grow academically, socially, but spiritually as well, which I believe is the most important component in developing the whole student.”
Online registration for the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education's conference is available at www.catholicliberaleducation.org.