COLORADO SPRINGS. Divine Redeemer School is one of the schools in our diocese that has joined the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education’s network of Classic Catholic Liberal Arts Schools for the 2021-22 school year. This month, Divine Redeemer will begin to integrate some of the premise of the classical approach to education into our curriculum and our culture, beginning with the content of curriculum based in history and paired with a study of Latin.
I like how the St. Jerome Classical Education Plan beautifully expresses its vision of what education should be. It says, “Educating a child begins with the end product: the sort of person we hope would emerge after nine years at St. Jerome. The actual content of the various subjects within the curriculum are 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.”
I frequently think about what our community desires of the end product of a Divine Redeemer Catholic School student. There are so many virtues that come to mind but, in the end, there are two foundational aspirations. First, our hope is that each individual desires to live a life guided by truth and that he or she has acquired the tools necessary to discern that with a critical eye. Second, we hope to cultivate mindsets and habits that encourage noticing the good and the beautiful; in other words, God’s hand in everything.
In viewing history as a story launched by the human desire for God, rather than the fragmented way in which it is generally approached, students will probe the meaning of history more deeply and in a more personal manner. By looking at history in light of the incarnation of Christ, students will be given the opportunity to see themselves as a part of the ongoing story. How exciting it will be to assimilate our students into 2,000 years of Catholic thought, which includes history, culture, literature, language, and arts. To accomplish this, we will place special emphasis on studying the cultures of the Western tradition (Greek, Roman, Jewish, and other ancient cultures).
Students will cycle through the history of the world twice during their time at Divine Redeemer. In grades K-5, one year will be devoted to the study of Egypt, the Ancient Near East, Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, the Modern Age, and America. In grades 6-8, they will essentially summarize this history by a second study of each. This deep dive into history will provide students with a bold understanding of the enduring fundamental human questions and the intrinsic desire for God. The incorporation of literature (next year), will provide a further window into the journey of life as a search for God in all things.
As principal of Divine Redeemer, I have always been so proud of the strength of our curriculum and the beauty of our school culture. It is a wonderful, warm place to raise children as well as to find purpose and meaning. The integration of Classical elements into our culture and curriculum throughout the next few years is a journey I see as essential and critical, particularly in today’s increasingly secular worldview. For more information, visit www.school.divineredeemer.net.
(Kari Smith is principal of Divine Redeemer School.)