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The first step in providing your children with a true classical Catholic education is to complete a free homeschool consultation with Academy headmaster William C. Michael. During this consultation, you will simply discuss your homeschool goals, your children’s past studies and needs, the Academy’s courses and services, costs of study and financial aid, and any other issues you’d like.
The Classical Liberal Arts Academy provides students with access to the same classical Catholic curriculum that has been studied by saints and wise men throughout world history. The curriculum divided into five subject areas: Trivium, Quadrivium, Philosophy, Theology and Humanities. Please take your time and read the overview of the classical Catholic curriculum below.
The Seven Liberal Arts
The ancient wise men who on whose teaching western civilization was built taught that the study of seven arts were necessary for a free man to know Wisdom and live virtuously. These seven arts were: Grammar, Reasoning, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy. The ancient philosophers taught them all and their teachings remain with us today. This is the curriculum we stdudy and teach in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy.
The “Trivium” is a set of three arts, which provide a student with the language, reasoning and communication skills necessary for the pursuit of true Wisdom.
Important: Note that the real, classical “Trivium” consists of three arts–Grammar, Reasoning and Rhetoric–not three “stages of learning”. Do not allow modern counterfeits of the true classical curriculum to distract or confuse you.
The first art of the Trivium, and first of the seven classical liberal arts, is Grammar, through which we learn to read, write and speak rightly in any language. Grammar consists of four parts: Orthography, Etymology, Syntax and Prosody. In orthography, students learn the written letters of a language and the sounds they represent. In Etymology, students learn the various forms of the parts of speech. In Syntax, students learn the rules of sentence construction. Lastly, in Prosody, students learn the true art of pronunciation, which includes accent, rhythm and meter.
The second art of the Trivium, and second of the seven classical liberal arts, is Reasoning, through which we learn of the five kinds of predicables, the ten most general genera of predicables, the formation of propositions, the doctrine of the syllogism, the science of demonstrative reasoning, the science of dialectical reasoning, and the solution of sophistical fallacies. These concepts, which form the Aristotelean or Scholastic Method of investigation, are studied in the six books of Aristotle’s Organon.
The third art of the Trivium, and third of the seven classical liberal arts, is Rhetoric, through which we learn, as Aristotle says, “to discover the available means of persuasion” in any circumstance. Our sources for this study are the Rhetorical works of Aristotle, Cicero and Quintillian.
The “Quadrivium” is a set of four arts, which provide a student with the art and science of the four species of Quantity. Mathematics were introduced by Pythagoras, as a means of ascending intellectually from the observation of sensible things to the contemplation of immaterial things, which is the ultimate aim of philosophy.
The first art of the Quadrivium, and fourth of the seven classical liberal arts, is Arithmetic, through which we learn the art and science of absolute multitude or number. The ancient sources for this study are numerous and we study them through a 19th century text that collected the teachings of the ancients on Arithmetic.
The second art of the Quadrivium, and sixth of the seven classical liberal arts, is Geometry, through which we learn the art and science of magnitudes at rest. This art is named “Geometry” or the “measurement of the Earth”, because, throughout history, it was argued by the wise men that the earth (Ge in Greek) was a body at rest. The source for this study is the famous text of Euclid, the Elements, which has been studied for over 2,300 years.
The third art of the Quadrivium, and fifth of the seven classical liberal arts, is Music, through which we learn the art and science of relative multiude, or ratio. Our source for this study is the 6th century Catholic scholar Boethius, whose work on the Art of Music, has been a standard text for 1,400 years.
The fourth art of the Quadrivium, and last of the seven classical liberal arts, is Astronomy, through which we learn the art and science of magnitudes in motion. This art is named “Astronomy” or “rule of the stars” because it was the conviction of the ancients that the stars were bodies in motion about the earth. The sources for this study include Aristotle and Ptolemy, which have been studied for 2,000 years. Modern “Copernican” Astronomy may also be studied, but serves a different purpose.
Philosophy is the pursuit of Wisdom by means of Reason. In the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas explained that true Philosophy divides into four classes: Rational Philosophy, by which man learns to order his thoughts; Moral Philosophy, by which man learns to order his will; Natural Philosophy, by which sman learns the order of created things in the natural world; and, Practical Arts, by which man learns to order external things in his control.
In the first of the three philosophical sciences, we study the science by which we may learn to pursue happiness by the right ordering of our will. Aristotle explained that the goal of this study is “not merely to know about virtue, but to be good men.” We study this science in Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, following the interpretation provided by St. Thomas Aquinas.
In the second of the three philosophical sciences, we study the science by which we may discover the order that exists in sensible things. We begin the study of this science in Aristotle’s Physics, following the interpretation provided by St. Thomas Aquinas. After this general study has been completed, students can move on to Aristotle’s minor works on natural philosophy, which include: De Caelo, De Generatione, Meteororum, De Mineralibus, De Anima, etc..
In the third of the three philosophical sciences, we study the science by which we may discover the order that exists in insensible things. We begin the study of this science in Aristotle’s Metaphysics, following the interpretation provided by St. Thomas Aquinas.
Theology, the science of God, is the most noble of all studies and the end of the classical Catholic curriculum. This science is beyond the reach of human Reason and requires divine revelation. This science is pursued through two different sources: Sacred Scripture, which contains the content of divine revelation, and Sacred Tradition, by which Sacred Scripture is rightly interpreted and applied to all other studies.
1. Sacred Scripture
The seventy-three books of the Old and New Testament contact all of the content of divine revelation. These books have been handed down to us in their original languages, which are most authoritative, and in translation. As the Sacred Scriptures are unlike any human writings, and are intended for more than mere academic learning, they are studied in a number of ways: in daily devotional reading (lectio divina), in academic reading, in public liturgical reading, etc.
2. Sacred Tradition
The authoritative interpretation of divine revelation is known as Sacred Tradition. The knowledge of Sacred Tradition is sought through the study of the catechetical works and writings of the Doctors of the Catholic Church. In the Academy, we study Sacred Tradition through the Baltimore Catechism and Summa Theologica.
The final subject area of the classical Catholic curriculum is the Humanities. These studies are not essential to the classical Catholic curriculum, but enrich those that are, contributing greatly to them. The Humanities divide into the study of History, Literature and the Fine Arts.
History’s wisest men have commended the study of history, not for the sake of political propaganda or mere school requirements, but for the sake of Wisdom. Cicero said, “Whoever does not know what happened before he was born remains forever a child.” St. Augustine wrote, “Anything that we learn from history about the chronology of past times assists us very much in understanding the Scriptures.” In the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, we offer students a World Chronology course that surveys world history from a Catholic perspective and a complete history program that covers the history of the Ancient, Classical, Medieval and Modern periods.
In the study of Literature, we study not as spectators looking to be entertained by others, but as students seeking to imitate the masters in our own works, for our own generation. With a foundation of studies in the classical liberal arts, we are able to study the works of the great poets, playwrights and novelists who shared enjoyed a classical education themselves. The Academy offers four courses in English Literature, beginning with English translation of the ancient poets, continuing with the medieval classics, and continuing through modern authors.
3. Fine Arts
Imitation takes the form not only of writing but also of drawing, painting, music, dance, sculpture and more. While these studies require formal training for mastery, we provide students with theoretical studies that might not be found in local programs, to help them build a strong foundation in the fine arts.
Want to know more?
If you find this overview of the classical Catholic curriculum interesting, you’ve only scratched the surface. If you’d like to learn more of the history and principles of classical Catholic education, you can do so in our free book, “Understanding Classical Catholic Education”.