The Classical Liberal Arts Academy is not a tax-funded public school intended to provide basic workplace skills to millions of children. We provide rigorous liberal arts instruction, supervision and assessment to independent students who are piously and diligently seeking Wisdom through an elite philosophical curriculum.
While we invite all families to apply for admission and give all families an opportunity to get started and succeed, we must be straightforward about the challenges that true classical education poses. Modern schools teach students that they can be or do anything they desire, but this is not true. As human beings, we all face real obstacles that, unless overcome, will keep us from achieving our goals. The pursuit of true wisdom is one such thing. When a student's life is disordered and impious, he/she will not progress in the pursuit of wisdom. The book of Wisdom teaches us:
"Think of the Lord in goodness, and seek him in simplicity of heart: For he is found by them that tempt him not: and he sheweth himself to them that have faith in him. For perverse thoughts separate from God: and his power, when it is tried, reproveth the unwise: For wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins. For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee from the deceitful, and will withdraw himself from thoughts that are without understanding, and he shall not abide when iniquity cometh in. For the spirit of wisdom is benevolent, and will not acquit the evil speaker from his lips: for God is witness of his reins, and he is a true searcher of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue.
To succeed in our program, a student needs all of the following (follow link for details):
1. Catholic Christian Culture
2. Sacramental Graces
3. Parental Discipline
4. Basic Study Skills
1. Catholic Christian Culture
Non-Catholic families are welcome to study in the CLAA, let that be clear--and we have a number of non-Catholic families doing very well. However, it is a matter of fact that the principles of Protestantism and Evangelicalism are inconsistent with the principles of true classical learning. In other words, there can be no such thing as a "Genuine Protestant Classical Education". This reality will not be understood until children enter into Dialectic and Philosophy, but families must be aware of it at the outset. In American society, religions are treated as equals by those ignorant of their differences or those concerned only with the material benefits of religion, but in classical studies the differences become very clear.
First, Protestant principles of knowledge, such as "Sola Scriptura", the private interpretation of Scripture and the disregard for tradition are contrary to the principles of the art of Logic and hinder the study of true philosophy, which often depends on matters of divine revelation that have come outside of Scripture. For a clear example, the canon of sacred Scripture was established almost 300 years into Church history--how would this be proven "by the Bible"? The Bible is itself proven to contain the written word of God by the living Church, not vice-versa. A student given such a limited view of truth will have great difficulties on complex philosophical issues which have developed since the close of biblical writings and lie beyond the scope of sacred Scripture. A student in the CLAA will have to abandon Protestant principles in order to study philosophy truly.
Second, it must be remembered that the highest ambition for students in the classical liberal arts curriculum is religious life, where the principles of Truth, Goodness and Beauty are most safely and securely pursued. Students who are raised with no prospect of religious vocations are forced down paths to which they may not be called simply because their parents reject other paths for them. This, of all things, is the greatest danger for non-Catholic students. In God's will, there is no need to force education to end in money-making or college admission. History's greatest classically trained minds have this in common: they found their life's calling in a spiritual, not material vocation.
Parents should only enroll a child if they are committed to fully supporting Academy studies and maintain a culture that is conducive to learning. Parents cannot enroll their children for rigorous studies that their home life prevents them from completing. This includes showing their children necessary love and affection, eliminating avoidable distractions and obstacles, maintaining a routine or prayer and worship, providing academic assistance to the student and demonstrating a genuine appreciation for the student's work. The family must model the virtues sought through study and gently help the student along.
Families must also commit to cultivating a spirit of sobriety and maturity among their children, rather than allowing the perpetual childishness that ruins American children. The Catholic Church teaches that the age of reason is normally around 7 years old--not 18, not 22. Children are considered morally accountable by the age of their first confession and this should be taken seriously. There is no excuse for inordinate play, entertainment, idleness, etc.. "Youth is the time for extraordinary toil." said the philosopher Plato--who knew a thing or two about true classical education.
2. Sacramental Graces
Christ teaches us that He is the vine, we are the branches and apart from Him we can do nothing. This illustration directs Christians to the Sacraments of the Church, wherein we find all of the blessings our Lord showers down from heaven upon us: cleansing from original sin, absolution of actual sin, nourishment for our souls, light for understanding, charity for family life, authority for ministry and healing for sickness.
Children, from the day of their birth participate in the reality of these sacraments--earned and intended for them by Christ--and are drawn to view God as their God and are regularly strengthened and directed on their way through childhood and to the end of their lives. Religion is not an adult activity.
To deny children access to this life of present, rather than prospective, spiritual life is to starve a child when he is in most need of food. The Sacraments give children their own sense of God's presence in their life and unite them to Christians throughout the world, which is a source of great comfort and confidence that normally holds them fast to Christ through life. Sunday school and youth group activities are not the means Christ has established to save our children's souls.
3. Parental Discipline
As God did not intend for children to grow without the graces of the Church's sacraments, he also did not intend for children to learn without parental discipline and motivation. We must remember that the books of Proverbs and Sirach are filled with parental commands for children to seek wisdom and instruction, but included throughout these books are exhortations for parents to discipline their children to promote this.
"He who spoils his son will bind up his wounds, and his feelings will be troubled at every cry. A horse that is untamed turns out to be stubborn, and a son unrestrained turns out to be willfull. Pamper a child, and he will frighten you; play with him, and he will give you grief. Do not laugh with him, lest you have sorrow with him, and in the end you will gnash your teeth. Give him no authority in his youth, and do not ignore his errors. Bow down his neck in his youth, and beat his sides while he is young, lest he become stubborn and disobey you, and you have sorrow of soul from him. Discipline your son and take pains with him, that you may not be offended by his shamelessness."
Parents must be willing to create and maintain a system of rewards for their children for good behavior and of punishments for bad behavior to lead them along the path to wisdom and goodness.
Those who oppose such traditional views of parental discipline (and there are some) should realize that even the laws of the United States leave to parents and guardians the right to chastise their children. To hold an opinion, then, that contradicts not only explicit directions of biblical wisdom literature, but also our own civil laws (which represent the mind of the majority of men) is to hold an opinion that should be questioned carefully.
Also, remember that "positive" methods of teaching, such as those employed by St. John Bosco, were employed with children that (a) were not his own, (b) were already full of bad habits and (c) were running wild in the streets. He is not to be used as a model for parental discipline or homeschooling, as he was serving a very different group of children than parents are, who receive their children from birth to be raised in the way of the Lord and kept from developing bad habits.
4. Basic Study Skills
The following skills are expected for students intended to work independently in the CLAA:
the ability to follow written instructions
the ability to accurately read study materials
the ability to communicate with reasonable clarity
the ability to write legibly
the ability to count, read and write numbers through 100.
the ability to use a computer and type with reasonable speed and accuracy
Students who are not yet in possession of the basic study skills listed above may begin with the assistance of a parent or older sibling. Younger students who cannot yet read or write should be placed in the Petty School, or given basic literacy training before enrolling in the CLAA.
The student in whom these requirements are found will, with God's blessing, fare well in the Academy. We are not seeking to exclude any children from receiving a classical liberal arts education, only to prevent troubles for students that lack the support needed. The Academy cannot accept the responsibility of instructing a child whose lack of support, lack of piety, lack of interest or lack of study skills demand a level of attention from our support staff that we are simply unable to provide.
If you have any questions about our admissions criteria, we are happy to help answer them. Simply contact us.