Classical Curriculum


What makes an education ‘Classical’?

Despite the foundational importance of this question, there is–at this  a readily defined or easily attained, especially for our work with the youngest children. Instead, we should think of classical education as that sort of education which is most properly suited to the formation of a child toward personal sanctification and full participation in a distinctly Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian culture. This education is most naturally and completely done in a Catholic school. Furthermore, it is sustained and perfected by the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church.

Classical Education Is…

  1. Loving – Out of the superfluous (from the Latin super, “over” and fluere, “to flow”) love of the Trinity, man was created. By love and for love, man was made. From the teacher’s own loving relationship with Christ, flows his love for God’s fingerprint in creation and God’s very image in the children entrusted to his care. This love for God, man, nature, and art must be the primary motivator for both teaching and learning.
  2. Integral – A classical educator knows that all knowledge is an integer, a united whole. At the lowest and highest levels the inter-relation of disciplines is evident, but this must become a daily reality in the classically-oriented classroom. While our days may be organized according to subjects, these should never be artificial barriers to organic connections. We always try to study things as wholes: The frog in the pond, rather than (or at least before) on the dissecting tray; the complete work, not the anthologized excerpt; the historical event in its context, not isolated by the national holiday.
  3. Orderly – Contrary to the dominant trends in education, the classical educator believes that truth has real existence (against the relativist), that it can be known (against the skeptic), and that it can be shared (against the cynic). Our teaching reflects a belief in the inherent order of reality. We need not resort to didactic instruction when the encounter between the student and the real is often sufficient for communicating truth. This order is hierarchical, and one of the principle tasks of the student is to cultivate orderly thinking by practicing distinction, division, and definition.
  4. Natural – Our methods flow from the nature of the subjects and the nature of the student. Learning itself is an act of the student, not the teacher. Therefore, we accomplish exponentially more when we cooperate with the interest, abilities, and attention of the student. Certainly these must be cultivated and directed, but to teach without them is to waste our energy. Similarly, there is nothing in the intellect which is not first in the senses. So, by engaging eyes, ears, hands, and voices, we can multiply our effectiveness and engage our students completely: mind, body, and spirit.
  5. Formative – Parents are the primary educators of their children, and the role of the teacher is to assist them in forming each student for the universal call to sanctity and their personal vocation of service of God. This two-fold vocation is the end of education which all else serves.
  6. Leisurely – Classical education is not the way of the world. Seen from the outside, it is unreasonably difficult, but, once embraced, the yoke is light. We study the true, the good, and the beautiful because there is nothing better we could do with our time. Liberal education is liberal both because it is the act of a free person and because it liberates us from sin and from ignorance. Christ said to his disciples, “you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”
  7. Focused on First Things – Confidence and joy in our method, materials, and ultimate end allow classical educators to prioritize appropriately. Formation is first. Academics are second. Passing fads can go their way without perturbing a well-grounded teacher.

Classical Education Is Not…

  1. Progressive – Works enter the classical canon by being judged to be beautiful and fitting additions to what Mortimer Adler called “The Great Conversation.” Neither the methods nor the materials used in a classical education will frequently be altered. Human nature and the standards of art are constant, so while times may change, our strategies for engaging and forming students need not. Most educational innovations become part of classrooms across the country while they are still younger than the students themselves.
  2. Utilitarian – The purpose of education is the cultivation of the human. Growing in understanding, in discipline, in command of self, language, and matter fulfills our human nature. “Through education,” says the Hillsdale College Honor Code, “the student rises to self-government.” If we put formation first, we will always get “college and career readiness” thrown in.
  3. Anxious – Accelerated communication, universal connectivity, and the resulting anxiety which characterizes modern culture are inimical to human flourishing. Therefore, we must cultivate silence and simplicity in our classrooms. Similarly, when it comes to content, the classical educator must learn to festina lente, make haste slowly. Students understand a lesson when they are able to see the truth in it, rather than simply remembering a procedure or fact. What is seen is known in a much more fundamental way and is more quickly recalled and employed than what is remembered. By teaching to mastery, rather than to the pace set by the textbook, more sure progress is made.
  4. (Exclusively) Didactic – While educators who doubt the existence and communicability of truth must exclusively rely on didactic methods (lecture, test, repeat), the classical educator draws on a broader tradition which includes mimetic and Socratic instruction. We are also careful to remember that there is no such thing as a neutral medium or environment. Beautifully illustrated, carefully bound, high quality books communicate much more than the sequence of words of their pages. From the walls of the room to the teacher’s dress, all that meets the student’s eye or ear is a part of education.
  5. (Purely) Rigorous – Perhaps the most universal pitfall of the classical education revival has been a tendency to substitute rigor for substance. Many schools which are classical in name substantiate the designation by showing off test scores, AP courses, or the pace of instruction. While well-rounded ability is a natural result of a sound education, rigor is not its essence. The key is to focus on teaching not many, but much (non multa, sed multum). Rather than making a subject “an inch deep and a mile wide,” the teacher focuses on covering a few essential things well, especially those skills which prepare students to direct their own learning.
  6. Abstract – As the Church frequently and beautifully reminds us, man is both body and spirit. He cannot be satisfied with any but a sacramental view of life. Just as we cannot live a faith relegated to abstract principles, so we cannot teach learning objectives divorced from content. The indispensable canon is to classical education what the corporal works of mercy are to the faith: They incarnate it. This education must include a strong emphasis on language, including instruction in Latin, and preferably Greek as well,  and the trivium studies of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. It must include a rightly ordered study of art and music, history of the ancient, medieval, and modern world, and great literature from Mother Goose and Aesop, to Homer and Shakespeare. In every case, emphasis should fall  precisely on what is most securely part of the tradition.
  7. Salvific – A classical education is a beautiful thing. Those who come to see this beauty after being formed in a progressive educational environment are sometimes tempted to think that it is more than just conducive, but is instead necessary, to a good life. Diagramming sentences, reading The Vulgate, and memorizing the funeral oration from Julius Caesar are all wonderful things, but they are not the one thing needful. Our final judgment will not be a quiz on Plato.

From The Liberal Arts Tradition by Kevin Clark and Ravi Scott Jain

Below you will find Peter Kreeft’s list “eight silly objections to [classical education] that are really advertisements for it” from the conclusion of his forward to The Liberal Arts Tradition:

  1. It’s “divisive.” It’s not what everyone else is doing. It marches to a different drummer. It cultivates excellence rather than conformity. Yes it does. And this is actually sometimes used as an objection rather than as a selling point!
  2. It’s old, outdated, unfashionable. Yes it is, like honor, courage, integrity, and honesty. It doesn’t try to tell the truth with a clock; it doesn’t practice chronological snobbery. In an age which has embraced every novelty, the true rebel is the traditionalist.
  3. It’s not in line with modern philosophies: skepticism, cynicism, subjectivism, relativism, naturalism, materialism, reductionism, positivism, scientism, socialism. That’s exactly right. It’s not. It’s countercultural. It harnesses teenagers’ natural proclivity to rebel and turns that force against “the bad guys” who are now the “establishment” instead of against “the good guys.”
  4. It’s “judgmental.” It believes there really is good and bad, true and false. The typical modern education is judgmental only against being judgmental, and skeptical of everything except skepticism.
  5. It’s small. It’s private. It’s grassroots. It’s implemented mainly in small schools, not big ones. This is true, and it’s another plus rather than a minus. “Small is beautiful.” The bigger the school, the more standardized it has to be and the more the person tends to get lost in the system and get identified with his or her race, economic class, gender, sexual orientation, or political party.
  6. It seeks the truth for its own sake, not primarily for pragmatic uses. It aims at wisdom, not wealth. It makes its graduates philosophers instead of millionaires. This is also true. But it’s not a fault. As Chesterton says, “Man’s most practical need is to be more than a pragmatist.”
  7. It’s not specialized. It doesn’t include courses on underwater basket weaving or pickling and fermentation (which was actually a major at Ohio State). It doesn’t teach you clever ways to outguess Microsoft word, or the government, or lawyers, or your professor, or the standardized tests. It just teaches you how to think and how to live. But businesses, law schools, and government agencies don’t want specialist drudges and drones; they want people who can read and write and think logically and creatively.
  8. It’s religious. It’s Christian. It doesn’t pretend that the most important man who ever lived never lived, as our public education now does. It assumes that the supernatural is not the enemy to the natural, that “grace perfects nature rather than demeaning it,” as light perfects all colors.

Learn more about our vision for classical education and some of the resources that shaped our thinking.

The following sections include articulation of our education philosophy and brief explanations of how our classical outlook dictates the materials we use in class and the methods we use to teach them.

Building a solid foundation for sound reasoning

Truth is liberating. This is what Christ means to tell us when he says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Those studies which tend to free us from a slavery to ignorance and sin and free us for living an examined life of Christian charity are traditionally called “The Liberal Arts.” The constituent parts of a liberal education were the trivium and quadrivium, a curriculum proposed by the Greek philosophers and turned into a regular program of study in the first centuries after Christ.

The quadrivium consists of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy (a beautiful commentary on the unity of math, art, and science) and the trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. What modern schools typically and often dismissively refer to as the “language arts” were traditionally conceived of this single unit known as the trivium (Latin for “a meeting of three roads”). Grammar here means more than it is often used to mean. Though formal grammar studydiagramming sentences and learning the parts of speechis a vital part of what children at Sacred Heart Academy learn, it is important to realize that grammar encompasses all of the acquisition of the basic tools of understanding which lead to reading, writing, and basic use of numbers.

This conception of grammar as the ability to understand symbols (like “George Washington,” “amphibian,” “67” and “the Trinity”) and the concepts they point to blurs the lines between math, English, Latin, and even history and science. At the lower-elementary level the main function of all these courses is to promote an understanding of the basic skills and concepts that turn young children into able communicators and investigators. Logic, the understanding and ordering of propositions (ideas and claims presented as sentences) can only be built on the strong foundation that grammar provides.

At Sacred Heart Academy we’re not afraid of “mere” memorization, because we know that the acquisition of facts and terms is necessary before sound reasoning can begin. Logic & Rhetoric are taught as a subject for high school students in our Classical Enrichment Courses (CEC) program, but for our full-time students they are incorporated into daily discussion as well as our developing speech and writing programs. Logic is the art of right thinking and rhetoric is the art of persuasive expression. When we begin with a firm reliance on the existence of moral truth, we are able to use reason to know more about the world and ourselves. By charity and obedience we are compelled to share that truth with others.

Embracing the complementarity of arts and sciences

The 1957 launch of Sputnik sparked a national conversation on the deficiencies of math and science curricula in our primary and secondary schools; however, the history of tension between “language arts” and “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects in American education began long before. Even today, and even at the elementary level, schools tend to throw their weight behind one set of subjects rather than the other, yet classical education has traditionally sought a balance which gives just and equal attention to both the “arts” and “sciences.” The truth of the matter is that they are in fact less significantly divided than many contemporary education reformers might have you believe.

For the ancient and medieval teachers, the language studies of the trivium and the study of nature and number which constituted the quadrivium were parts of a cohesive whole. The different studies aimed to understand the same underlying order of the universe and the idea that their methods or products could conflict would have seemed absurd. Rightly done, math and science studies are directed toward understanding the inherent order and beauty of creation.

It is imperative that science be taught from a moral perspective and that sound scientific method is acquired alongside scientific theory and fact. To that end, the Catholic Science Investigators club provides opportunities for older students to acquire hands on laboratory experience. It is our ongoing goal in our curriculum to contextualize math and science instruction by incorporating history, moral teaching, and philosophy.

Nurturing students’ spiritual lives

Part of what makes Sacred Heart Academy distinct even among classical schools is our commitment to making the sacramental life of the church and the student’s spiritual well-being a central focus of the educational process. Daily Mass, weekly Adoration, and regular opportunities for Reconciliation provide students with the spiritual support they need to mature and grow with grace. Regular prayer, the reading of scripture, and religious instruction are part of every subject, and we continue to look for ways to improve catechetical instruction within our curriculum for every grade level.

Perhaps even more important than the formal religious instruction itself is the fact that Catholic culture permeates the entirety of the curriculum at Sacred Heart Academy. From the hymns and prayers which are part of every level of Latin instruction, to the lives of saints taught in both literature and history classes, students are given ample opportunity to see the imprint of the Catholic faith on Western culture and its effect on the lives of their teachers and peers.

Opening the mind to deeper understanding

Instruction in the languages of Greece and Rome is an essential component of a classical education. Memorization and translation lead to the acquisition of discipline and intellectual virtue, but one may ask why ancient languages would be chosen over their modern counterparts. The orderliness of Latin and Greek grammar tend to create a habit of order in the minds of students and the practical benefit to student writing and correlation with improved test scores is a motivating factor. With over 70% of English words derived from Latin and Greek, student vocabulary and knowledge of English grammar are dramatically improved by studying classical languages as well.

Sacred Heart Academy has a fully developed K-8th grade Latin curriculum in place. The youngest students become acquainted with the language through memorization, recitation, and song. Beginning with the sign of the cross, our youngest students receive an introduction to prayers, hymns, and parts of the Mass in Latin, ensuring that there is a strong connection between language instruction and faith formation.

Formal grammar instruction and translation begins in 3rd grade and students who start Latin grammar in lower elementary will leave Sacred Heart Academy able to read both contemporary and ancient documents of the church in the original language. As soon as we are able, we plan to incorporate the study of Greek, the language of the New Testament, into our Classical Enrichment Courses (CEC) program.

For further discussion on the value of teaching Latin and Greek, check out the Department of Classics page at the University of Dallas website or look into the documents shared on the Sacred Heart Academy Resources page.

Connecting us to others, ourselves

History teaches us that the epic stories of Western culture, from the wanderings of the Israelites to the American Revolution, are a part of singular narrative with our lives in the 21st century. We are players in the one great story which began in the Garden of Eden, reached its climax at Golgotha and the empty tomb, and is leading to its grand conclusion foretold in St. John’s account of the Apocalypse. As responsible agents in this drama we cannot afford to be ignorant of history. Such ignorance would lead us to misunderstand not only other cultures (which are typically the focus of modern “social studies”) but also our own individual motivations, responsibilities, and desires.

We believe that teaching is a dramatic art and the instructor’s ability to weave his subject matter into a cohesive narrative gives vitality to classroom instruction. For this reason, history is essentially connected to the teaching of literature, math, science, the arts, and religion. From the time we begin to string sentences together as children we use stories to order our experience and share our lives with others. To see just how much truth can be stored in a short narrative look to the parables of Christ and the fables of Aesop. J.R.R. Tolkein, the great 20th century Catholic author of The Lord of the Rings, was a master of imbuing his narratives with transcendent significance. He articulates the idea that history is progressing toward fulfillment in Christ and that it is deeply connected to imaginative literature most clearly in his essay “On Fairy Stories”:

It is not difficult to imagine the peculiar excitement and joy that one would feel, if any specially beautiful fairy-story were found to be “primarily” true, its narrative to be history, without thereby necessarily losing the mythical or allegorical significance that it had possessed… The joy would have exactly the same quality, if not the same degree, as the joy which the “turn” in a fairy-story gives: such joy has the very taste of primary truth. (Otherwise its name would not be joy.) It looks forward (or backward: the direction in this regard is unimportant) to the Great Eucatastrophe. The Christian joy, the Gloria, is of the same kind; but it is preeminently (infinitely, if our capacity were not finite) high and joyous. But this story is supreme; and it  is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men—and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused.

This idea that history is directed and ordered by God toward a great “Eucatastrophe”a complete reversal of the seeming victory of evil into the perfect and joyful triumph of goodis central to our understanding of literature, history, and our faith. Students who are given the opportunity to experience vivid narratives of historical events begin to see this big picture with greater clarity. The result is that they take their faith, their personal responsibilities, and their intellectual lives much more seriously.

Making the world a more beautiful place through the arts

The list of fine arts is variously enumerated but always includes Aristotle’s original list of five (music, sculpture, painting, poetry, and dance) and is a fitting complement to the liberal arts studies discussed above. Unlike the liberal arts, the fine arts are transitive, having an object outside the improvement of the student. The fine arts seek to bring order and beauty into the world simply for its own sake rather than for any particular use. This devotion to beauty distinguishes the fine arts from the technical skills (the servile arts) employed in trades. At Sacred Heart Academy, every student learns the theory and practice of music and the visual arts in dedicated courses.

With the expansion of our Classical Enrichment Courses program, we hope to expand our offerings in the arts to include courses in Sacred Music, Iconography, and Art Appreciation in the near future. Each of these courses closely tie the appreciation and creation of art with history and the Catholic faith. Annual events like field trips to Art Prize and our very own Heart Prize give students the opportunity to put their knowledge and skill to the test by creating and displaying their own work and critiquing that of professionals. Our students’ musical talent is showcased annually at the Christmas Program.

As we continue to develop our fine arts curriculum, you will begin to see musical instruction and art history tied in closely with classroom instruction, especially with our religion and Latin curricula. Our parish’s new music director, Dr. David Saunders, also plays a prominent role in teaching our students the history of liturgical music and the close relationship between art and orthodoxy.

Building a solid foundation for sound reasoning

Truth is liberating. This is what Christ means to tell us when he says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Those studies which tend to free us from a slavery to ignorance and sin and free us for living an examined life of Christian charity are traditionally called “The Liberal Arts.” The constituent parts of a liberal education were the trivium and quadrivium, a curriculum proposed by the Greek philosophers and turned into a regular program of study in the first centuries after Christ.

The quadrivium consists of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy (a beautiful commentary on the unity of math, art, and science) and the trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. What modern schools typically and often dismissively refer to as the “language arts” were traditionally conceived of this single unit known as the trivium (Latin for “a meeting of three roads”). Grammar here means more than it is often used to mean. Though formal grammar studydiagramming sentences and learning the parts of speechis a vital part of what children at Sacred Heart Academy learn, it is important to realize that grammar encompasses all of the acquisition of the basic tools of understanding which lead to reading, writing, and basic use of numbers.

This conception of grammar as the ability to understand symbols (like “George Washington,” “amphibian,” “67” and “the Trinity”) and the concepts they point to blurs the lines between math, English, Latin, and even history and science. At the lower-elementary level the main function of all these courses is to promote an understanding of the basic skills and concepts that turn young children into able communicators and investigators. Logic, the understanding and ordering of propositions (ideas and claims presented as sentences) can only be built on the strong foundation that grammar provides.

At Sacred Heart Academy we’re not afraid of “mere” memorization, because we know that the acquisition of facts and terms is necessary before sound reasoning can begin. Logic & Rhetoric are taught as a subject for high school students in our Classical Enrichment Courses (CEC) program, but for our full-time students they are incorporated into daily discussion as well as our developing speech and writing programs. Logic is the art of right thinking and rhetoric is the art of persuasive expression. When we begin with a firm reliance on the existence of moral truth, we are able to use reason to know more about the world and ourselves. By charity and obedience we are compelled to share that truth with others.

Embracing the complementarity of arts and sciences

The 1957 launch of Sputnik sparked a national conversation on the deficiencies of math and science curricula in our primary and secondary schools; however, the history of tension between “language arts” and “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects in American education began long before. Even today, and even at the elementary level, schools tend to throw their weight behind one set of subjects rather than the other, yet classical education has traditionally sought a balance which gives just and equal attention to both the “arts” and “sciences.” The truth of the matter is that they are in fact less significantly divided than many contemporary education reformers might have you believe.

For the ancient and medieval teachers, the language studies of the trivium and the study of nature and number which constituted the quadrivium were parts of a cohesive whole. The different studies aimed to understand the same underlying order of the universe and the idea that their methods or products could conflict would have seemed absurd. Rightly done, math and science studies are directed toward understanding the inherent order and beauty of creation.

It is imperative that science be taught from a moral perspective and that sound scientific method is acquired alongside scientific theory and fact. To that end, the Catholic Science Investigators club provides opportunities for older students to acquire hands on laboratory experience. It is our ongoing goal in our curriculum to contextualize math and science instruction by incorporating history, moral teaching, and philosophy.

Nurturing students’ spiritual lives

Part of what makes Sacred Heart Academy distinct even among classical schools is our commitment to making the sacramental life of the church and the student’s spiritual well-being a central focus of the educational process. Daily Mass, weekly Adoration, and regular opportunities for Reconciliation provide students with the spiritual support they need to mature and grow with grace. Regular prayer, the reading of scripture, and religious instruction are part of every subject, and we continue to look for ways to improve catechetical instruction within our curriculum for every grade level.

Perhaps even more important than the formal religious instruction itself is the fact that Catholic culture permeates the entirety of the curriculum at Sacred Heart Academy. From the hymns and prayers which are part of every level of Latin instruction, to the lives of saints taught in both literature and history classes, students are given ample opportunity to see the imprint of the Catholic faith on Western culture and its effect on the lives of their teachers and peers.

Opening the mind to deeper understanding

Instruction in the languages of Greece and Rome is an essential component of a classical education. Memorization and translation lead to the acquisition of discipline and intellectual virtue, but one may ask why ancient languages would be chosen over their modern counterparts. The orderliness of Latin and Greek grammar tend to create a habit of order in the minds of students and the practical benefit to student writing and correlation with improved test scores is a motivating factor. With over 70% of English words derived from Latin and Greek, student vocabulary and knowledge of English grammar are dramatically improved by studying classical languages as well.

Sacred Heart Academy has a fully developed K-8th grade Latin curriculum in place. The youngest students become acquainted with the language through memorization, recitation, and song. Beginning with the sign of the cross, our youngest students receive an introduction to prayers, hymns, and parts of the Mass in Latin, ensuring that there is a strong connection between language instruction and faith formation.

Formal grammar instruction and translation begins in 3rd grade and students who start Latin grammar in lower elementary will leave Sacred Heart Academy able to read both contemporary and ancient documents of the church in the original language. As soon as we are able, we plan to incorporate the study of Greek, the language of the New Testament, into our Classical Enrichment Courses (CEC) program.

For further discussion on the value of teaching Latin and Greek, check out the Department of Classics page at the University of Dallas website or look into the documents shared on the Sacred Heart Academy Resources page.

Connecting us to others, ourselves

History teaches us that the epic stories of Western culture, from the wanderings of the Israelites to the American Revolution, are a part of singular narrative with our lives in the 21st century. We are players in the one great story which began in the Garden of Eden, reached its climax at Golgotha and the empty tomb, and is leading to its grand conclusion foretold in St. John’s account of the Apocalypse. As responsible agents in this drama we cannot afford to be ignorant of history. Such ignorance would lead us to misunderstand not only other cultures (which are typically the focus of modern “social studies”) but also our own individual motivations, responsibilities, and desires.

We believe that teaching is a dramatic art and the instructor’s ability to weave his subject matter into a cohesive narrative gives vitality to classroom instruction. For this reason, history is essentially connected to the teaching of literature, math, science, the arts, and religion. From the time we begin to string sentences together as children we use stories to order our experience and share our lives with others. To see just how much truth can be stored in a short narrative look to the parables of Christ and the fables of Aesop. J.R.R. Tolkein, the great 20th century Catholic author of The Lord of the Rings, was a master of imbuing his narratives with transcendent significance. He articulates the idea that history is progressing toward fulfillment in Christ and that it is deeply connected to imaginative literature most clearly in his essay “On Fairy Stories”:

It is not difficult to imagine the peculiar excitement and joy that one would feel, if any specially beautiful fairy-story were found to be “primarily” true, its narrative to be history, without thereby necessarily losing the mythical or allegorical significance that it had possessed… The joy would have exactly the same quality, if not the same degree, as the joy which the “turn” in a fairy-story gives: such joy has the very taste of primary truth. (Otherwise its name would not be joy.) It looks forward (or backward: the direction in this regard is unimportant) to the Great Eucatastrophe. The Christian joy, the Gloria, is of the same kind; but it is preeminently (infinitely, if our capacity were not finite) high and joyous. But this story is supreme; and it  is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men—and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused.

This idea that history is directed and ordered by God toward a great “Eucatastrophe”a complete reversal of the seeming victory of evil into the perfect and joyful triumph of goodis central to our understanding of literature, history, and our faith. Students who are given the opportunity to experience vivid narratives of historical events begin to see this big picture with greater clarity. The result is that they take their faith, their personal responsibilities, and their intellectual lives much more seriously.

Making the world a more beautiful place through the arts

The list of fine arts is variously enumerated but always includes Aristotle’s original list of five (music, sculpture, painting, poetry, and dance) and is a fitting complement to the liberal arts studies discussed above. Unlike the liberal arts, the fine arts are transitive, having an object outside the improvement of the student. The fine arts seek to bring order and beauty into the world simply for its own sake rather than for any particular use. This devotion to beauty distinguishes the fine arts from the technical skills (the servile arts) employed in trades. At Sacred Heart Academy, every student learns the theory and practice of music and the visual arts in dedicated courses.

With the expansion of our Classical Enrichment Courses program, we hope to expand our offerings in the arts to include courses in Sacred Music, Iconography, and Art Appreciation in the near future. Each of these courses closely tie the appreciation and creation of art with history and the Catholic faith. Annual events like field trips to Art Prize and our very own Heart Prize give students the opportunity to put their knowledge and skill to the test by creating and displaying their own work and critiquing that of professionals. Our students’ musical talent is showcased annually at the Christmas Program.

As we continue to develop our fine arts curriculum, you will begin to see musical instruction and art history tied in closely with classroom instruction, especially with our religion and Latin curricula. Our parish’s new music director, Dr. David Saunders, also plays a prominent role in teaching our students the history of liturgical music and the close relationship between art and orthodoxy.