Curriculum Overview

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piper quote.pngWe cannot appreciate, nor applaud enough, the work of the curriculum committee of St. Jerome Academy in Hayattsville, Md. They helped pave our pathway to Classical learning, and the educational plan they created is truly inspirational. With permission, our school has borrowed much from their approach and suggestions. Special thanks to Mary Pat Donoghue for her generosity of time and spirit, and to the staff of St. Jerome's for their hospitality and witness throughout our own transition.

Read The Educational Plan of Christ the Divine Teacher School.

The Virtues [an addition to our religion program]

 Creating a New School

IMG_5137.JPGWith every building and every work of art, there is a sense in which the finished product or the completed work comes first. The builder or the artist starts with a blueprint, a plan, or a picture of the finished work in mind. Sometimes the builder modifies the plan in the course of the work, but he cannot modify it completely without creating something entirely different, or destroying the work altogether. By keeping this picture firmly in view, the builder can ensure that each step in construction occurs for the sake of the next, and he can see how all the steps combine to build up the whole. If this blueprint does not guide his work, then the end result of his labors is not a building, but a heap of stones. Education is like this. Without a clear sense of what education is and the end it serves, we may expend a great deal of effort 'piling up stones' instead of truly educating.

Our blueprint rests on the sort of person we hope would emerge after nine years at this school. The actual content of the various subjects within the curriculum is like the foundation stones of the educated person. The skills, aptitudes, and habits we hope to cultivate through pedagogy, and through the culture of the school, are like the tools of learning. And, of course, the teachers are the builders who bring their art and experience to bear on the construction of the building. We proceed from the vision, first through the core subjects that would comprise the curriculum, and then with increasing detail through the specific stages in the teaching of each subject to show how each stage builds upon the next, and these combine with our teacher's labors to contribute to the building up of the whole.

 Vision Statement

​​A life is more than merely the acquisition of skills, and education is nothing short of the passing of culture between generations. Therefore, classical learning is emphasized at our school because:
  • Truth and beauty are desirable for their own sake.
  • All students should read well, speak well, and think well.
  • We seek to incorporate our students into the two thousand year old wisdom of Catholic thought, history, culture and art.

IMG_5149.JPGTrue education has always rested on two presuppositions. The first is that truth is desirable for its own sake. It is good not for what it does, but for what it is. The second is that knowledge consists not in bending the truth to ourselves, but in conforming ourselves to truth. We can only conform ourselves to truth by freely embracing and loving it, and we can only love truth if we are enticed by its beauty.

Love of beauty has therefore always been integral to the discovery of truth and true education has always sought to form the heart and mind, reason and will, desire and knowledge. In short, education forms the whole person in light of truth, beauty and goodness.

The Vision Statement seeks to root a comprehensive understanding of education in a compelling and beautiful vision of reality worthy of students' love. This vision is intended to govern every facet of the school's life. Its aim is twofold: first, to communicate a certain body of knowledge; and second, to cultivate a certain kind of person, to develop as far as possible what is uniquely human in him, and so to equip him with the skills, habits and aptitudes necessary to embrace truth, and to become the person he was truly created to be. Immediately it becomes clear that no aspect of a school's life is truly 'extra-curricular' or falls outside of its core mission of education, because every aspect of its life—from the way the school prays, to the dress code of students and staff, the arrangement of furniture in the classroom, the paint and posters on the wall, the activities during recess, the way technology is used, and the songs the children sing—reflects the school's judgments and priorities about the meaning of its educational mission.

Everything a school does teaches something. Everything a school doesn't do teaches something. Everything a school does is education of some sort. The important thing is to be sure that it is good and coherent education, and that policies, procedures, pedagogical methods and the culture of the school are not at cross purposes with the vision.


Curriculum, pedagogical methods and all the details of the school’s life should therefore be constantly assessed both in light of the conviction that knowledge and love of truth, beauty and goodness are ends in themselves, and in light of the twofold goal of the Vision Statement. Every activity, program, policy, method or proposal should be tested by the following criteria, which flow from this vision, though not all are equally applicable to each of these facets of the school’s life.
  • ​Is it true, good, and beautiful?
  • Are we doing this because it is inherently good, or as a means to an end? If the latter, what end?
  • Does it encourage the student to think of education itself as a high and noble enterprise, or does it cheapen education?
  • Is it excellent? Does it demand the best students and teachers have to offer, and hold them to the highest standard they are capable of achieving? Or does it give in to the gravitational pull of mediocrity? Is excellence the highest standard, or is excellence subordinate to lower standards such as convenience, popularity, or marketing considerations (i.e., consumer appeal)?
  • Does it encourage reverence for the mystery of God and the splendor of His creation?
  • Does it encourage reverence for the mystery of the human person and respect for the student's own human dignity?
  • Does it encourage him to desire truth, to understand such virtues as courage, modesty, prudence, and moderation and to cultivate these within himself?
  • Does it help the student to see what difference God makes to all the facets of the world, or does it make God's existence seem irrelevant, trivial, small or private?
  • Does it encourage real searching and thinking? Does it provoke the student to ask 'why'? Does it stir up a desire for understanding?
  • Does it encourage conversation between and across generations or does it hinder conversation?
  • Does it help to develop to the fullest extent what is uniquely human in the student: the powers of attending, deliberating, questioning, calculating, remembering and loving?
  • Does it encourage the student to become patient, to take time and, if necessary, to start over in order to achieve excellence, or does it subordinate excellence to speed, ease and efficiency?
  • Does it encourage the student to value rigor and discipline?
  • Does it deepen the role of the family in the life of the school, and the role of education in the life of the family, or does it erect a barrier between family and school?