St. John Vianney Academy
St. John Vianney Academy
SURSUM CORDA - LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS
A Classical Homeschooling Enrichment Program
Grammar rightly informs us of structure in language, and then focuses on transferring that structure into clear thoughts and writings. Without proper grammar, it is very difficult to read, think, and express oneself clearly. Thus, grammar serves as the beginning of logic, informing students of the proper structure in which to begin their thinking. Grammar would also encompass the study of vocabulary, which would focus on giving students the right and proper definition of the meaning of words in the English language.
It is proper to consider the study of Latin in conjunction with the study of Grammar. Latin is a critical subject in any Catholic liberal education, both due to its structure and its history within the Church. The structure of Latin empowers the student to clearly see the intricacies of language. Learning Latin naturally guides the student to see the parts of speech, the structure of those parts within the sentence, and, through a more advanced study of it, the nuances of more complex tenses and sentences. It also has the utility of being the root of much of the English vocabulary. In addition, the Church has a long history of Latin being its universal language, and thus a student taught in the Catholic liberal tradition must be immersed in its language in order to unlock some of the greatest prayers, doctrines, and traditions of the Church.
Reading and literature within the great Catholic tradition has a focus on great, classic literature. Exposing students to good literature is one of the most vital things a school can do. Literature allows the student to have moral experiences vicariously through its characters and writings. Beyond one’s own upbringing, literature is responsible for much of formation of one’s morality. Surrounding oneself with bad literature can not only corrupt the imagination, but it can corrupt the soul. In light of this, only classic literature in line with the great Catholic tradition should be read during the formative years of education. When reading classic literature in the school setting, the teacher should only serve as a guide. It is imperative that the never moralizes a tale, as that takes away from the student’s ability to properly form an experience from the story.
A proper knowledge of history helps one understand the modern world by seeing where it came from, allowing one to see where it is going. A proper history course in the Catholic liberal tradition will show the students the Hand of Providence in the history of the world, mixed with the nature of humanity. A good history course will expose students to the most salient aspects of the Western and Eastern civilizations and cultures, and it will represent a true history of the Church. A good history course will also have a heavy focus on the historical tales of good and heroic deeds done by those in history, enrapturing students in the marvel of the actions of man in conjunction with God. Our history textbooks provide accurate versions of the past that are lacking in other social studies textbooks. They are well researched, beautifully written, visually appealing and most importantly present the Catholic contribution to the creation and development of the United States and California. We are the only educational program in Kern County to offer books from the Catholic Textbook Project.
Science will serve to discover the creation of God. Students will be exposed to approaching nature in light of the great J. Henri Fabre- taking the time to allow nature to reveal itself to them. This allows students to wonder in creation- studying it as a whole, before going after the individual parts. Students will be taught the true role of science, distinguishing it from philosophy. They will be exposed to the scientific method, which, with its rigor and analysis, helps us to unlock the laws of the Creator, and reveals His order and wisdom.
Mathematics serves as the language of the universe. It is found in nature, shape, number, and music. Like science, it reveals to us the wonder of creation and its Creator. Its unmitigated logic allows the students to practice logic, rational thinking without regard to circumstance. Its seeming complexity is nearly always resolved into simplicity, revealing the beauty of God by serving as a reminder that, though beyond man’s understanding, God is simple. It will serve as a reminder to students that all of creation leads back to the Logos.
Theology is the queen of the sciences. In the classroom, students will be taught the Truth of Salvation History, the Word of God, Church Doctrine, Church History, and the Liturgy. While the particulars of the Church and its teachings will be taught in Theology class, Theology should exude from every aspect of the school. It should be evident in the matter taught in the other subjects, it should be seen in the music the students are exposed to, and it should be seen in the example of the parents and teachers of the school, as well as the how the students interact. Above all else, theology is meaningless without exposing the student to regular and reverent devotion to prayer and the sacraments, especially that of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Theology teaches the students how to rightly order their lives to live out their vocation, enabling them to be truly free.