The following comes from a Jan. 17 story by San Francisco Catholic.
Guided by a new principal and support from the pastor and the archdiocesan Department of Catholic Schools, Star of the Sea School in San Francisco will become the first Catholic school in the archdiocese to offer students from kindergarten through eighth grade a classical education beginning fall 2019.
Classical education is a traditional educational model that seeks truth, goodness and beauty through the study of the liberal arts and literature’s “great books.”
The merits of a classical school education in both public and private schools have been largely “pushed aside” by progressive education programs championed by philosopher John Dewey (1859-1952), Star principal David Gallagher said.
Gallagher, a teacher at the Richmond District parish school for almost two decades, explains: “Where a classical education differs [from Catholic schools] is that we are trying to create virtue in our students. We are not just trying to point students toward a career but providing them with a knowledge base where they can go on to any career area they want.”
Gallagher, who said he was the beneficiary of what he called “a classical education” at St. Stephen School in San Francisco, described classical education as the “handing down of something that was given to us,” such as the works of Homer, Plato, Aristotle and Socrates.
“What Western civilization is based on is a legacy that we no longer really teach in the schools, at least in the elementary schools,” Gallagher says. “Less Shakespeare, less Steinbeck, less Robert Louis Stevenson.”
Star of the Sea pastor Father Joseph Illo told Catholic San Francisco that he was approached this time last year by Catholic schools superintendent Pam Lyons, who believed the school to be a good fit for a classical curriculum.
He had worked as chaplain for two years in Ventura County at Thomas Aquinas College, which has an integrated classical curriculum. “I became impressed by its efficacy in teaching critical thinking skills,” he said.