Socrates, Report for Duty

Third-graders familiarize themselves with their new tablet computers at Monte Cassino School in Tulsa, Okla.

As many schools move toward "project-based learning" and curriculum models emphasizing innovation and "design thinking," the status of traditional methods and texts becomes increasingly murky. Teachers and experts continue to emphasize learning by doing, where students commit to assignments that involve collaboration, presentation, and the construction of a tangible finished product or some other outcome with a "real-world" application. While these developments aren't a bad thing, it doesn't exactly bode well for the old-school seminar, for courses that depend more on reading, listening, and conversing, the kind that tend to energize philosophy majors and advocates of the liberal arts.

It's heartening, then, to see what's afoot in Wisconsin. As reported by greenbaypressgazette.com, "The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay and the Green Bay Area Catholic Education system announced plans Tuesday to create a new school that will use a Catholic classical curriculum, including in-depth study of the traditional works of the Western world and the great works of Christendom."

Advertisement

The official diocese press release had this to say:

"A group of parents have shown interest in a school that follows a classical curriculum model, which includes in-depth study of the classical works of the western world," said Bishop Ricken at an April 29 press conference. "The goal is to develop complete thinkers who learn to draw on faith and reason for the purpose of building up the Church. This idea was first brought to me in late February with a recommendation from the [Green Bay Area Catholic Education System] Board of Directors, and I was pleased to help develop a way to educate more Catholic children seeking this specific kind of education."

As of now, this sounds like a very promising initiative. The Socratic method, the integration of faith and reason, introduction of Latin, and the use of classic texts and authors? In today's milieu, with schools increasingly pressured to outsource their teaching to apps and software, this might be the most innovative approach around. 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Father Michael Nixon and parishioner work a volunteer table at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, Fla. Photo by Atena Sherry.
Much like New Orleans’ Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina, the low-income neighborhoods east of Panama City, where St. Dominic is located, were especially hard-hit by the storm. Now residents here are desperate for help.
Atena SherryOctober 18, 2018
“I believe there are adequate, alternative options for true women’s health care out there, and Planned Parenthood is not needed,” said Alisha Fox, a health and wellness coach at a Catholic fertility center in Chicago.
Colleen ZeweOctober 18, 2018
 Ethiopian Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel of Addis Ababa checks out the name badge of Nathanael Lamataki, a youth delegate from the French territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, as they leave a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Cardinal Souraphiel highlighted the role globalization plays in connecting young people in unjust ways.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 18, 2018
The pope said he would visit North Korea “if an official invitation arrives.”
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 18, 2018