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Language and Literature

 

 

One of the hallmarks of a Classical curriculum is the study of primary sources of literature from the great writers of Western civilization. Through the study of ancient and modern languages, such as Latin and Spanish, we learn from the sources of the Catholic faith, engage with tradition, and communicate with the world.

” The good books are food for a wholesome imagination. They are well-written. They introduce young people to characters they will never forget. They soar beyond easy cynicism or nihilism… They may well have villains in them, there may be warfare, but there will not be a creepy relish for bloodshed- no itch for the base, the sick, the bizarre, the filthy, the evil”. — Anthony Esolen, author and professor at Thomas More College

Why study literature and language?

We human beings are made in the image and likeness of a speaking God. We strive to serve the Logos, who is Jesus Christ- the incarnate Word of God (Jn. Ch. 1), the Truth in the flesh (Jn 14:6). The same God who spoke all things into being (Gen. ch.1) has blessed us with the ability to speak so that we, as his images in the world, may participate in creating beauty and sharing truth.

Mastering grammar, the structure of language, helps us to think and communicate rationally. The study of literature fosters skills which are essential in education and daily life– analysis, critical thinking, abstract reasoning, and inferring universal truths from specific instances.

At St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, our Classical Catholic literature curriculum begins in pre-K and continues through junior high school. Students encounter traditional fables and fairy tales, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, Greek myths, Arthurian tales, Beowulf, the writings of the saints, and Dante, along with other classics of the Western literary tradition.

Such great literature raises the most important questions—what is the meaning of life? What is heroism? What are beauty, truth, and goodness? How do we make Christ-like, heroic choices when facing hardships? Classical literature gives us the best of Western civilization, which was formed by the Catholic Church and has served as the foundation of our American heritage. Classical literature teaches us to use words logically and beautifully, preparing students for the challenge of college-level writing. Approached with an open mind, the study of literature is exciting, enjoyable, and transformative!

— Joseph Hebert SEASCS Junior-High English Teacher

Why study Latin?

The study of Latin lies at the heart of Classical Education because the Latin language itself lies at the heart of our Western civilization and culture. The language of the Roman Empire that once spread across Europe, Asia, and Africa, Latin is also the language of the Catholic Church and of Medieval, Renaissance, and Enlightenment learning. It is the language of some of the greatest minds of human history, from Cicero and Augustine to Aquinas and Copernicus. At St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School, our students benefit from the beauty and order of the Latin language, whose analytical structure and foundational vocabulary help shape and sharpen our students’ minds for a lifetime of linguistic aptitude and critical reasoning. 

Languages: Ancient and Modern

As human beings created in the image of God, language and reason define who we are. The ancient Greeks referred to human beings as the ‘rational’ animal (zoon logikon)—that living being uniquely possessed of a mind, rationality, and, especially, language. Whether it is the inner discourse of the mind or the outward expression of our thought and intellection, language (logos) distinguishes us from the rest of the visible creation and makes us what we are. At St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, students study language, both ancient and modern, not only to gain utilitarian mastery over the tools of human speech, but as part of the Humanities, that course of distinctly human learning that nourishes the soul and helps us to grow in creativity, understanding, and thoughtfulness. The Gospel of John states boldly that In the beginning was the Logos. Christ himself is the Word par excellence through which the entire cosmos, with its order and rationality, was brought into being. The study of language, therefore, like all the liberal arts, is oriented not only to equipping our students with unique skills and advantages for future success, but especially to refining their minds and shaping what is uniquely human in their souls, made in the very image and likeness of God the Word.

–Dr. Tikhon Pino, SEASCS Latin Teacher