Catholics for Classical Education exists as a network of parents, teachers, and administrators dedicated to renewing the traditions, excellence and purpose of Catholic education. 

We recognize that the foundation of Catholic education has fractured and started to disintegrate.  Sometimes that disintegration is almost imperceptible, sometimes it is apparent.  The accumulated disintegration, though, alarms the faithful.  We strive to raise the awareness of the Church on this issue.

CCE Values

Our Faith

Catholic education begins with man’s relationship to God.  “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.”[1]  “God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason.” [2]  Man has this capacity because he is created “in the image of God.”[3]  And without it, man would not be able to welcome God’s revelation. [4]

“Man stands in need of being enlightened by God’s revelation.”[5]  In that regard, Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect and unsurpassable Word.  In Him, the Father has said everything; there will be no other word than this one.[6]

This “search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will, ‘an upright heart,’ as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God.”[7]  Through learning about the physical world’s order and beauty, man can learn about God. [8]  As stated by Saint Paul regarding the Gentiles:

What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.[9]

Similarly, through his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God‘s existence.  In all this, he discerns signs of his spiritual soul.  The soul, the “seed of eternity we bear in ourselves, irreducible to the merely material“,[10] can have its origin only in God.[11]

The Purpose of Education

“Holy Mother Church must be concerned with the whole of man’s life, even the secular part of it insofar as it has a bearing on his heavenly calling. Therefore she has a role in the progress and development of education.”[12]  For this reason, Catholic education addresses the development of the whole person through spiritual and academic formation based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.[13]

Catholic education rests on a rich tradition of bringing children to the Word of God.  In that tradition, education provides students with a sound foundation of knowledge and sharpens their faculties of reason.  It nurtures the child’s natural openness to truth and beauty, his moral goodness, and his longing for the infinite and happiness.  It equips students to understand the laws of nature and to recognize the face of God in their fellow man.

Education in the Catholic tradition forms men and women capable of discerning and pursuing their path in life.  It equips them to be citizen-leaders, to form and shepherd Christian families, and to pursue their chosen professions in the full light of their God-given creativity and imagination.  It forms men and women who stand ready to defend truth, their church, their families, and their country.

A Classical Catholic Education

We believe the type of instruction that best fulfills this charge is what has traditionally been deemed “classical education.” Such education focuses not only on what students learn, but when and how they learn it. Classical education recognizes the developmental capacity of children at different stages of their education and matches the instruction to those capabilities. The ultimate goal is the formation of the complete human being.

Classical education also recognizes that all knowledge is interrelated. Science is related to history, which is related to great stories, which are related to human nature and behavior, and so on. The Christian understands that these interrelationships exist because all knowledge has the same source – God, as revealed to mankind in Jesus Christ.

Finally, classical education seeks to develop and shape every aspect of a student – not only his understanding of factual knowledge, but his imagination, his creativity, and his development of essential virtues such as courage, integrity, and compassion. For the Christian, of course, the development of good people who appreciate their likeness to their Creator and seek to live in that truth is the essence of education.

Responsibility for Education

The teaching of the Church is clear that parents bear the most fundamental responsibility for the education of their children:

“’The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.’ The right and duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.”[14]

“It is irreplaceable and inalienable, and incapable of being entirely delegated or usurped by others.[15]  Parents entrust, without fully delegating, their children’s education to Catholic schools.

Affirming the Catholic Tradition

Many Catholic dioceses have wrongly, albeit unwittingly, delegated essential elements of education to public school systems and to market-forced influences.  This results in the denigration of Catholic education through text-books, testing, and teacher preparation.  It invites fads and a degraded, Progressive curriculum such as that embodied in the Common Core national standards.

The progressive philosophy holds that the goal of education is to develop a workforce.  According to this view, the average student does not need true understanding of the human condition, as revealed in great literature; or of advanced mathematics, which he probably will not use in his daily activities; or of historical events or political philosophy, which will help him understand his civilization’s past and make sound judgments about its present and future. It is enough that the student be trained to occupy a slot in a managed economy.

The way to revitalize Catholic schools is to re-embrace the classical model of education. When given the informed choice, Catholic parents will flock toward classical schools that will help their children become, in the words of Professor Anthony Esolen,  “human beings, honoring what is good and right, cherishing what is beautiful, and pledging themselves to their families, their communities, their churches, and their country.”

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 27.

[2]  Catechism of the Catholic Church, 36 (citing Cf. Gen 1:27).

[3]  Catechism of the Catholic Church, 36 (citing Cf. Gen 1:27).

[4]  Catechism of the Catholic Church, 36 (citing Cf. Gen 1:27).

[5] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 38 (citing Pius XII, Humani generis 561: DS 3876; cf. Dei Filius 2: DS 3005; DV 6; St. Thomas Aquinas, S Th I, I, I).

[6] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 65.

[7] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 30.  See also  Catechism of the Catholic Church, 31.

[8] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 32.

[9] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 32 (citing Rom 1:19-20; cf., Acts 14:15, 17; 17:27-28; Wis 13:1-9.)

[10] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 33 (citing GS 18 # 1; cf. 14 # 2).

[11] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 33.

[12] Gravissimum Educationis, Preface, quoted on http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catholic-education/ (last accessed Oct. 23, 2013).

[14] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2221; see also Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2223 (“Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children.”).

[15] Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio.