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Classical Curriculum

St. Patrick Catholic School is the second parochial grade school in the Archdiocese of Detroit to offer a classical education. Our school year is off to a great start as we embrace this new curriculum. We encourage our students to be curious! We want to awaken their desire to know, to think, to ask questions, to seek God in all things and to base their actions on a desire to do His will. This is what sets us apart with a Classical Curriculum at St. Patrick School.  Please continue to pray for our school, staff and students as we journey through this transformation.

“With this curriculum, we looked at how we incorporate our faith into every aspect of this,” Carl Lenze said. “Students will see how God created the world, how Christ impacted the world and how everything is all part of God’s plan. Archbishop (Allen H.) Vigneron in Unleash the Gospel says everyone needs to have an encounter with Jesus Christ daily and go out and witness to others. That’s what we’re hoping this curriculum will do.”

A Classical Education Curriculum is very straightforward. God and His Son are always at the center of every day and in every subject. Students will be taught the virtues of wisdom, honesty, integrity and respect, but, more importantly, to consider these in every decision they make. In the past 20 years, over 650 Classical schools have emerged all over the United States in both Christian and secular environments. We believe this change will allow us to maintain Catholic identity at St. Patrick School for years to come and distinguish us from other Catholic schools in the area.

"Our students will learn not just to pass tests, but to develop life-skills to think things through. I am convinced that this model of education will pay great dividends in our students' futures."

Fr. Mike Woroniewicz

A classical school aims to teach a child “how to think,” and “what to do.”  At Saint Patrick School we want to teach our children to seek God in all things, and to base our actions on a desire to do His will. To reach this goal, we have designed our educational program around history and literature. We want to put good literature before them so that they will see and desire to act in the manner of the great men and women of the past, in service to God and their fellow man. A classical education is this kind of education, an education in wisdom and virtue. 

Saint Patrick students will read, analyze, and discuss the actions of great people of the past. As they read, we want them to ask questions about the actions of these great men or women—the question every child should ask when first reading about a character: “Was he good or bad? Why did he act as he did? Who was affected by his actions? What were the circumstances? What should he have done differently? If so, what would you have done differently?” This is an education in wisdom and virtue.

To get our children to this place, we need to focus on two levels. The early years we will call the Grammar Stage (Kindergarten through Third grade) we will concentrate on the basic skills of math, reading, spelling, basic grammar and writing. In these years we will spend much time memorizing and reciting basic facts, learning to read and write. Since this is an age of curiosity, we want to awaken in the student the desire to know, to think, ask questions, and recite works they have memorized. Memorization is a major part of the early years, everything from math facts to bible verses, poetry, basic tenets of our faith and the history of our church and nation.

As we move into the upper grades (the Logic and Rhetoric Stages) we will continue to build upon the foundations of the Grammar Stage by going deeper. Using the basic skills to read more challenging literature, write better essays, speak more clearly, and think deeper. In short, to develop in the student the ability to express ideas more meaningfully and to know how and when to act (how to think the truth, and to know what to do!). 

This idea to teach students how to think so that they will think truly and act rightly—was the goal of the Romans and the Greeks. It was the education of the Christian Middle Ages, of the American Founding Fathers, and of their Catholic and Puritan predecessors. It was the prevailing education into the early 20th century before it was gradually thrown out over a period of about 40 years.

The proof of a classical education’s success, however, is that many of the keenest minds in history, including such greats as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Thomas More, William Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Adams, and John Hancock, (and most of the Founding Fathers of the United States), C.S. Lewis, J. R.R. Tolkien, Saint John Henry Newman, and Pope Benedict XVI all were taught in the mode of a classical liberal education.

Our students will still have the same subjects as this past year; math, reading, grammar, science, religion, history… but the way these are taught will look a little different. We will concentrate on the foundational skills at the Grammar Stage, and then begin to develop their skills in the Logic/Rhetoric Stage. 

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