Explore the tradition of classical liberal arts education and study under expert scholars and practitioners.
The Academy for Classical Teachers (ACT) provides online summer enrichment for classical teachers who seek to teach in their classrooms according to the principles of a traditional Liberal Arts Education. ACT is a collaborative initiative of Great Hearts K-12 classical charter schools and the Institute for Classical Education along with partners in institutions of higher education. This year’s courses are designed to help teachers dive deeply into content, with an eye toward both theory and practice. Faculty are drawn from our friends in higher education, expert teachers, and scholars who have chosen to teach within the public K-12 arena because of the unique opportunities it affords.
What: The 2021 Academy for Classical Teachers
When: June 7 – 25 and July 5 – 23, 2021
Where: Online Only for Summer 2021
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For further questions, please email Paul Weinhold at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Watch an intro video from Dr. Shipp
Alexis de Tocqueville was a keen observer who stood at the crossroads between the Old World and the New, between aristocracy and democracy. Born to an aristocratic family and haunted by the French Revolution’s failed promised of freedom–yet convinced that Europe was moving toward democracy–Tocqeuville arranged an extended tour of the fledgling United States, where he sought to understand democracy’s “tendencies, its character, its prejudices, its passions.” It has been said of the result, Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, that the work is“at once the best book ever written on democracy and the best book ever written on America.” From the first page of Democracy in America, Tocqueville introduces his central thesis: that conditions in the West are growing more equal, that this equality is the essence of democracy, and that the “democratic revolution” is an unalterable fact. This trend toward democracy (or equality) and away from hierarchy and privilege is not restricted to matters of law and government but is evident in every aspect of society, including religion, family life, and education. But if Tocqueville insists that democracy is inevitable, he is no less emphatic that equality’s effects are indeterminate. The democratic revolution is a current the nations of Europe cannot escape, yet a choice remains: In the dawning age of democracy, societies may have equality with freedom or without. In this course, we will read some of the most important parts of Democracy in America as we consider together the gravity pull of equality, and what that may suggest for learning and leadership in a democratic society.
Leader: Dr. Stephen Shipp, Headmaster, Seven Oaks Classical School
When: June 7 – 25, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm (AZ), 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm (CST)
Watch an intro video from Dr. Post
One of the most accomplished philosophers, Christian theologians, and statesmen of his time, equally versed in the Great Books and the liberal arts, there is no single author who better exemplifies the classical tradition than Boethius. When you add that his writings and Latin translations of Aristotle were the primary sources for ancient wisdom in the West until the 12th century, it is no overstatement to say that, without Boethius, there would have been no classical tradition or Western civilization as we know it. In this course, we will consider his masterpiece, The Consolation of Philosophy. Often overlooked by self-declared “professional philosophers,” this work has been translated by no less than two of the greatest English monarchs that ever lived (Alfred the Great and Elizabeth I) and was an inspiration to C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. It reveals the depths of its riches less to the one who seeks purely erudite or technical “wisdom,” reserving those riches for the one who is strengthening themselves to live genuinely dedicated to virtue and to virtuous leadership.
Leader: Dr. Matthew Post, Associate Dean and Assistant Professor of Humanities, Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts, University of Dallas
When: June 7 – 25, Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm (AZ), 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm (CST)
Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is without question one of the most important and influential books ever written, and an understanding of Western moral philosophy is incomplete without an engagement with it. No single text is more central to Western concepts of virtue, friendship, and the good life. This ancient book, read by all Great Hearts 11th graders and studied and commented upon by thinkers since antiquity, has also exerted a powerful influence upon the educators who designed and built the Great Hearts K-12 program. This summer, participants will have a special opportunity for an in-depth complete reading and three-week series of Socratic seminar discussions on this seminal book.
Leader: Andrew Ellison, Executive Director, Great Hearts Texas
When: June 7 – 25, Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:00 am – 9:45 am (AZ), 10:00 am – 11:45 am (CST)
Course Full — Click Here to Join the Waitlist
Watch an intro video from Dr. Parham
In his book The Great Conversation: The substance of a liberal education, Robert Maynard Hutchins describes the conversation as consisting of writings that “had endured and that the common voice of mankind called the finest creations, in writing, of the Western mind” (xi). He also explained that “from epoch to epoch, new books have been written that have won their place in the list….It is the task of every generation to reassess the tradition in which it lives, to discard what it cannot use, and to bring into context with the distant and intermediate past the most recent contributions to the Great Conversation” (xi). The intent with this seminar is to do just the kind of reassessing Hutchins recommends. The texts are curated in a way that seeks to seamlessly weave the voices of black intellectuals into dialogue with writers who have long been established at the core of the great books tradition. It is my belief that the inclusion of these writers deepens the conversation, provides it with nuance, and better equips those engaged in the conversation today to grapple with difficult issues of inequality, belonging, and justice that continue to bedevil our attempts to live together with and to build bridges across our differences.
Leader: Dr. Angel Parham, Rev. Joseph H. Fichter, S.J. Distinguished Professor of Social Science and Associate Professor of Sociology at Loyola University-New Orleans
When: June 7 – 25, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm (AZ), 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm (CST)
Watch an intro video from Dr. McBrayer
This class will be dedicated to a slow reading of one of the greatest books of all time, the classic “mirror of a prince,” Xenophon’s Education of Cyrus, about Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire. Xenophon was an accomplished general in his own right, and he was also a student of the famous Greek philosopher, Socrates. The Education of Cyrus is an exciting adventure story, often likened to a novel, and telling the tale of the founder of the world’s first great empire. In this book’s opening pages, Xenophon contends that Cyrus, and Cyrus alone, possessed the knowledge or science of politics–that is, how to rule human beings. Cyrus used this science to come to rule the entire known world. And by leading readers through a study of Cyrus’ birth, nature, and education, Xenophon promises to teach them the same science.
Leader: Dr. Gregory McBrayer, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Ashland University Core Curriculum
When: June 7 – 25, Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm (AZ), 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm (CST)
Watch an intro video from Dr. Avery
Shakespeare, widely acknowledged as the greatest imaginative writer in the history of the English language, has without question transfixed the Western imagination. Re-creations and new interpretations of Shakespeare’s texts abound and will surely continue to do so. Our course, operating under the assumption that these texts carry philosophical wisdom intelligible to an alert reader, will involve carefully reading and discussing selections from the Shakespearean canon. Our overarching inquiry will regard how Shakespeare’s art reveals truths about human nature in its manifold experiences and aspirations. What do his plays and poems teach us about politics, about spirituality and religion, about individualism in relation to community, and about representation itself? In addition to regular attendance and discussion participation, course requirements will also include two essays and a final examination. Our texts will likely include the following: significant selections from the sonnets, 1 Henry IV, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Tempest, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, and Othello.
Leader: Dr. Joshua Avery, Humane Letters Teacher, North Phoenix Preparatory Academy
When: June 7 – 25, Monday through Friday from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm (AZ), 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm (CST)
Cost: $125 or Register for Graduate Credit through the University of Dallas
Watch an intro video from Dr. Prather
W. E. B. Du Bois, the first African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard University and one of the founders of the NAACP, was a prolific author and advocate for racial justice. This seminar will explore selections from Souls of Black Folk and The Education of Black People. Seminar participants will pursue the question of why Du Bois felt classical education was the best type of education for the African American. Each session will involve seminar discussion about the essays as a path to discovering the relevance of classical education to the African American community. Further, the seminar will explore the importance of Du Bois’ thought today.
Leader: Dr. Anika Prather, Founder of The Living Water School and Adjunct Professor at Howard University
When: July 5 – 23, Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm (AZ)
The modernist poet Ezra Pound describes lyric poetry as the “most concentrated form of verbal expression,” one, we might say, that is best appreciated in the works of poetic masters, those for whom each word in a poem is neither superfluous nor unintended. Indeed, a single conversation about a poem must involve careful attention to the poem’s verbal texture in order to plumb its hidden depths. Coming to understand poetry opens the reader to some of the most important aspects of human experience, and often with time and patience, the most difficult poems reveal themselves. This seminar will focus on ways to understand the various levels of meaning in a poem by exploring the relationship between form and content. Each day will be devoted to a careful reading of some of the greatest lyric poetry in various forms, including: the sonnet, the ode, the elegy, blank verse, and open forms.
Leader: Dr. Kathryn Smith, Co-Director, MAT in Classical Education; Assistant Professor of Classical Education, Templeton Honors College
When: July 5 – 23, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm (AZ), 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm (CST)
Watch an intro video from Dr. Seagrave
In this course, students will encounter and participate in the profound conversation about the meaning of nature, and the possibility of understanding it, that has occupied great thinkers from pre-Socratic philosophers, Plato, and Aristotle to Bacon, Descartes, and Darwin. Major topics will include the relationship of humanity to the natural world, the status of “natures” or “essences,” the relationship between modern science and pre-modern science, and the theory of evolution.
Leader: Dr. Adam Seagrave, Associate Professor and Associate Director, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, Associate Director, Center for Political Thought and Leadership, Arizona State University
When: July 5 – 23, Monday through Friday from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm (AZ), 11:00 am – 2:00 pm (CST)
Cost: $125 or Register for Graduate Credit through ASU
Watch an intro video from Dr. Ivins
The birth of modern science transformed crucial concepts in mathematics and physics from their ancient and medieval roots. In studying Galileo Galilei’s Two New Sciences and selections from his predecessors, this course provides a dimension of historical appreciation for the literary richness of Galileo’s work. As we move forward from the beginning of Two New Sciences, we will intermittently look backward to the sources that Galileo explicitly refers to or, as is often the case, only alludes to in his work with an eye to understanding the manner of his reception of his predecessors. Engage in Socratic seminars, demonstrate mathematical proofs, and recreate some of the experiments described in the course texts as we build a deeper appreciation for the famed scientist and the foundations of his work.
Leader: Dr. Michael Ivins, Humane Letters Teacher, Scottsdale Preparatory Academy
When: July 5 – 23, Monday through Friday from 1:30 pm – 4:15 pm (AZ), 3:30 pm – 6:15 pm (CST)
Watch an intro video from ClassicalU
In this course, made possible through a partnership with ClassicalU, veteran Latin teacher and Latin textbook author Karen Moore provides a clear and engaging introduction to the Latin language. This course is designed for teachers who want to understand the essential grammar of the Latin language, as well as for those who would like to teach introductory Latin in a school or homeschool setting. The course uses the acclaimed Latin for Children series as the touchstone texts for learning Latin grammar and discussing Latin teaching methods.
Leader: Ms. Karen Moore, ClassicalU Instructor and Latin Chair at Grace Academy of Georgetown