Philosophy

 

Devoted to the Catholic Educational Tradition
Rolling Acres School‘s philosophy of education draws extensively upon the classical and medieval model of the trivium and quadrivium, and the Schola Rosa: Co-op & Home Curriculum reflects this inspiration.  Even the youngest students are guided through an integrated educational program that is formative and built upon the treasures of our rich, Catholic culture.  The Schola Rosa parent materials aid rather than replace parents, the primary educators, in guiding students to develop a true understanding of history and nature in which the incarnate Christ is the beginning, the middle and the end.  Our way of teaching is really to foster a “way of understanding” for the whole family, focused upon those things which are true, beautiful, and good.

We Docere ut salventur – “Teach so as to Save”
The patroness of Schola Rosa is St. Rose Venerini, who founded schools all over Italy for the education of young children in the 17th and 18th centuries. Pope Benedict XVI declared her a saint in 2006 and noted that “she did not content herself with providing the girls an adequate education, but she was concerned with assuring their complete formation, with sound references to the Church’s doctrinal teaching.” She thus prepared children, not only to live in this world, but to be apart from it and to face the spiritual challenges that might come their way. The Venerini Sisters who continued her work had the slogan: Teach to Save, which they adopted from their foundress. Schola Rosa, named after this saint, seeks to carry on her mission with the following inspirations and approaches.

Christian and Classical
We are devoted to finding the unified vision of the whole and the specific “meaning of a science or art . . . the specific truth or beauty it offers us” (Education at the Crossroads, Jacques Maritain).  Further, as Mitchell Kalpakgian writes, “The contemplation of goodness, beauty, or truth … appears not only in the thought of Plato or St. Thomas Aquinas but also in children’s literature” (The Mysteries of Life in Children’s Literature)The “classics” of children’s literature are that which “cultivate in young minds a sense of wonder, an awareness of the mystery of life, and an awe at the nature of things, the number of things, the way things change, and the way things work.” By carefully choosing stories rich in meaning, black and white in morality, and just in cause-and-effect, the classics offer a foundation at the elementary level for the books and discussions to come later.

Schola Rosa provides the foundations of the classical cannon of the liberal arts, including the trivium ~ grammar, logic, and rhetoric ~ and the quadrivium ~ arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Through language we teach grammar and logic, and through recitation and presentations we work at rhetoric. The quadrivium studies are included at an experiential level, inviting the student to experience astronomy, geometry, music, and arithmetic through observation and experiment without the necessity of worksheets.

Intermediate and advanced Schola Rosa materials provide the trivium and quadrivium courses in earnest, as well as a great books and socratic discussion component.  The philosophy described here applies to these levels of Schola Rosa, which are crafted to reflect the courses offered LIVE at the Rolling Acres School.

Beauty: Inspiration Taken from Created World
We have created an Art Program that talks about God as the “author of beauty” (CCC 2129) and therefore teaches children to look at the created world, God’s masterpiece, for inspiration and for the “rules” of beauty. Being mindful of God as our master artist and teacher, the art program also engages the family in a discussion of beauty rooted in the philosophies of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas through art theory handouts. For each art unit, there is a general principle of beauty introduced alongside a specific artistic skill. Explanations of both terms and tips are given for parents to engage discussion with their students throughout the week. Five media are taught each year, and we include instructions for each project that are cumulative as the year progresses. Students in PreK-6th grade are only exposed to works of art that meet the outlined requirements of beauty, and they are given art projects that guide them in the creation of works that follow those “rules.” As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Arising from talent given by the Creator and from man’s own effort, art is a form of practical wisdom, uniting knowledge and skill, to give form to the truth of reality in a language accessible to sight or hearing” (2501). Beginning in 7th grade students may evaluate and critique works of art. Schola Rosa provides a vocabulary that allows students at all levels to discuss what they perceive.


Integration of Ideas Across Subjects
The integration of ideas is a key feature of the Schola Rosa program. The three cycles provide an overarching organizational principle that centers all subjects around an historical and scientific theme for the year. Within that structure, the Schola Rosa philosophies of  education and beauty are the deciding factors regarding curricular resources and development. Some examples of integration include:

  1. We have been inspired by Pope Pius XII’s writing entitled “On Sacred Music” for its focus on beauty as having the power to elevate the human mind to the sublime. In accord with this writing, when students learn the parts of the Mass, they are learning the traditional Latin chants. Also, as we seek to cultivate a western and Catholic identity in our students, we have chosen folk songs and Catholic hymnody as the center-pieces of the music program. We have also chosen a music program that teaches systematically the order of music, the mathematics.
  2. When choosing illustrated versions of books for preschool, history, or literature, we choose only those that have been illustrated in accord with the philosophy of beauty taught in the art program.
  3. Even in science, we seek to understand how things work to see more deeply the beauty of the created world and to cultivate wonder.

Where does Religion fit?
Throughout Schola Rosa, the unity of Truth is emphasized. We therefore integrate the study of our Faith into the curriculum across subjects. As an extra resource, we provide the catechetical series Our Holy Faith. When searching for a Catechism resource, we were drawn to these books in particular for their robust explanations of Church doctrine and of liturgical meaning. These books have been educative for adults as well as their children in the Schola Rosa program. The illustrations are realistic and demonstrate both the realism and mysticism of “our holy faith.” Children everywhere have been drawn to these books and take great care in hearing more ~ making certain that mother does not forget the religion lesson.

In history we look at the development of the Church’s liturgy from its beginning to the present times. Since the Our Holy Faith books were published in the 1950’s and 1960’s, they are able to teach us the tradition of and shed light on the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite as it is practiced today alongside the Ordinary Form. Though the descriptions of the liturgical year follow the Extraordinary Form, we believe that the knowledge of this liturgical tradition is enriching not only for those practicing it, but also for those seeking to understand the reasons and meaning behind certain feasts and fasts.  As Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too … It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place”(Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops of the World to Present the Motu Proprio, 2007). The Our Holy Faith books represent a little, lost Catholic Treasure, rich in zeal and love for Christ.

Inspiration from Charlotte Mason and Linguistic Research
Language-Centered

As Charlotte Mason said, “Education is a discipline – that is, the discipline of the good habits in which the child is trained. Education is a life, nourished upon ideas; and education is an atmosphere – that is, the child breathes the atmosphere emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives” (Vol. 2, p. 247). 
1. Discipline
Built into the Schola Rosa curriculum is a Virtue-Training program that is infused in the history lessons and that is re-enforced at co-op meetings each week. The Virtue program seeks to cultivate the discipline of good habits. 
2. Life
This is the part for dealing with what and how to teach. In teaching the three R’s (reading, writing, and arithmetic) and ideas, we want to form their minds to think about these ideas with clarity, so choosing authors that express ideas well and with great interest is our goal. What we have specifically adopted into the Schola Rosa program are the concepts of “Living Books” and eloquent English; thus, we seek to choose books that were written by someone excited about the topic and books that use a robust English, not simplifying the language to the point of being remedial.   
3. Ideas ~ Integration is Key
The Schola Rosa program brings students into the Good Conversation of ideas, and families provide a Catholic atmosphere of home and Church liturgy.  The integration of ideas into family life creates the possibility of the synthesis of our Catholic ideas and education. Both of these aspects are worked into every subject without separation or division. This is why we advocate co-op teachers teaching more than one subject, so they may experience the same level of integration that students experience.

Research Confirms Advanced-Language Approach
Interestingly, recent studies have confirmed that children learn most of their vocabulary indirectly, that is, (1) through conversation with adults and other children, (2) from being read to, and (3) from reading themselves (Partnership for Reading 2001). Conversing about the meaning of words or the story while reading is considered most effective for teaching vocabulary.  Even if you do not explain every word, other studies have shown that children learn vocabulary simply by hearing a word frequently. Eventually, they use words correctly without ever having a definition. Why not, then, use elevated language when at all possible? To read a book with elevated language over and over again is better than to read a 1000 little books with no art in their prose or poetry.

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