Our forefathers, once they learned the liberal (i.e., learning) arts: grammar (including of Greek and/or Latin), dialectics and rhetoric (the “trivium”), began to apply them to the most excellent works of Western civilization by reading and discussing them. This millennial-tested and highly effective educational approach began to be replaced at the beginning of the 20th century with so-called progressive educational methods; the very ones which have failed and continue to fail our public schools. Unfortunately, most private schools followed suit.
Inevitably, sages aware of the causes of the educational collapse responded. In the 1930s Mortimer Adler and Robert Hutchins initiated the Great Books Movement, which set forth the restoration of the trivium, and the study of the Great Books of Western civilization including in Socratic discussions, as central for authentic education. The Angelicum Academy is that part of the Great Books Movement that continues that restoration in homeschooling, distance education, and in numerous schools that offer our program.
In the Greats Honors Program, the study of the trivium and the great classics is restored, as well as those other studies which traditionally followed the trivium: the quadrivium (originally arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy). Reflecting the advance of science over the centuries, the modern version of the quadrivium is broader, composed of the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), higher math, music and art). These subjects are offered to Greats Honors students via Wondrium™, as selected and assessed by the Angelicum Academy faculty, mentors, tutors and graders. This makes for an unparalleled educational opportunity for students, 9th grade and up, in this Honors program.
Do students have to begin the Greats Honors Program as excellent students, above average, or somehow gifted? No, it’s the materials, the books, the lectures, the teachers, that need to be the best in order to bring out the best in all of our students. The educational culture in which students are immersed strongly influences their subsequent intellectual growth and development. This was Dr. Adler’s point in the quotation first cited above: the best education is for all students.
The Greats Honors Program provides a mentor for individualized educational consultation and advice via email or live, online. Initial mentors are assigned to students by the Academy, and may be changed on request. Mentor sessions are on request and are individual-student-based, and are intended to assist students with individual learning difficulties, improving study habits, offering individual encouragement, support and occasional help with their studies, and with achieving individual educational goals. Since the mentors do not know all subject-areas equally well, when a student needs help in a particular area (such as in higher math, science, music, etc.), the mentors will arrange live, online tutorials for the students, as needed. These may be for individual students, or for multiple students with the same need for tutoring by one of the Academy tutors.
Please Note: We are all aware of the indirect and subtle censorship of Christianity in academia in our times. The Professors of the Great Courses come from various prestigious universities. Since many of these are secular institutions, their lectures – when they involve religion or matters related to religion – do not all present the Catholic viewpoint, nor in a Catholic context. We have, of course, avoided using those that are clearly anti-Catholic. However some of these we use because they are otherwise excellent do frame their lectures in a secular context – such as not mentioning God when any Catholic lecturer would do so. As a result, we are on the watch for excellent Catholic lectures of the same quality, covering the same topics, and will use those as they become available.
One last note on this subject: even the very best of the Great Books by Catholic authors often have numerous errors, some of which can even be considered anti-Catholic or heretical, or in pre-Christian times simply erroneous . Nevertheless we read and discuss them, and address those issues in discussion – that is what Catholics have done down the ages. In lectures, this is not possible, so we have approached them as noted above. We also invite students to alert us to any instances they believe demonstrate any anti-Catholic bias in any lecture, and we will either delete that lecture/lesson, or the entire course, or provide a sufficient, specific warning of that problem in the Lesson or syllabus. Thank you.