Explore the tradition of classical liberal arts education and study under expert scholars and practitioners.
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The Academy for Classical Teachers (ACT) provides online 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 Academies and our partner institutions in both higher education and classical K-12. 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.
For further questions, please email the Academy Director, Paul Weinhold at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leader: Andrew Ellison, Director of the St. Ambrose Center and Senior Advisor for Enrollment and Classical Education, University of Dallas
When: June 7 – 21, 2023 | Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays | 8:00 am – 9:45 am (AZ), 10:00 am – 11:45 am (CDT)
In this series of seminars, participants will explore a number of central ethical concerns discussed by Socrates in the works of Plato: the mission of the philosopher, the justice of disobeying unjust laws, Sophists and their ways, the relation between the genuinely good and the merely pleasant, and the moral responsibility of the teacher towards the community. The dialogues to be read are Apology, Crito, Gorgias, and Protagoras. No previous acquaintance with the works of Plato is required.
Cost: $125 (FREE for Great Hearts Employees)
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Leaders: Jeannette DeCelles-Zwerneman and Mary Frances Loughran, Cana Academy
When: July 5 – 6, 2023 | 8:00 am – 3:30 pm (AZ), 10:00 am – 5:30 pm (CDT)
This summer, join Cana Academy Master Teachers Mary Frances Loughran and Jeannette DeCelles-Zwerneman for a virtual master course on how to teach writing, based on their comprehensive guide, Writing Well, Thinking Clearly. Over the course of two days, you’ll enjoy in-depth introductions to the crucial concepts laid out in the guide and six practical, hands-on workshops on how to implement those concepts in the classroom.
Leader: Dr. Evan Lowe, Instructor, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, Arizona State University
When: Wednesday, June 28, 2023 | 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm (AZ), 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm (CDT)
In the midst of the tumult of war, Pericles called upon the Athenians to set aside their private grief and loss in order to commit to the common defense, falling in love with the city and giving to it as one would to a beloved. America is no stranger to the need to sacrifice for the common benefit, but the American conception of patriotism differs markedly from the classical. While George Washington cites his own personal sacrifice in his “Farewell Address,” he goes on to argue for national unity on the basis of a rational understanding of mutual political and economic interests. This course will address different conceptions of what patriotism means in the American context, and consider what is necessary for us to flourish as a nation.
Cost: FREE + Eligible for $350 Stipend from ASU!
Leader: David J. Rothman, Author and Poet
When: June 5 – 16, 2023 | Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm (AZ), 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm (CDT)
This class explores how to read, write, study and teach verse, the most fundamental of the magical things poets do with words. Why magical? Because verse is an expression of language that not only says things, but also does things. In prose, you can express any meaning language affords; you can use any word, any syntax, any figure of speech, and take up any subject, any image, any tone, even at times any rhythm. What you can’t do in prose, however, is deploy verse techniques that poets argue endlessly over: meter, rhyme, stanza forms, lyrical forms (such as the sonnet, the limerick and sestina) and more. In this sense, the techniques of verse have more in common with promises, blessings and vows than with any kind of descriptive writing. And these techniques are key to understanding how poetry works, for they are language not only as object but also as action.
Leader: Dr. Kathryn Smith, Co-Director, MAT in Classical Education; Assistant Professor of Classical Education, Templeton Honors College
When: June 6 – 22, 2023 | Tuesdays and Thursdays | 11:00 – 1:00 pm (AZ), 1:00 – 3:00 pm (CDT)
The approach to grammar instruction in school need not be a tedium for either the teacher or the student. Unfortunately for some, the memory of such instruction has left them jaded or confused. According to Phillip Donnelly the main reason for this disappointment is the way in which grammar is presented as a merely descriptive and instrumental categorizing of words instead of a wondrous and lively insight into the basis of our shared communion with others. This seminar will look at grammar instruction in light of the essential connection between grammar and meaning that informs all human communication. While we will review its structural elements, we will also explore the nuances inherent in grammatical choices through examples from history, literature, science, mathematics, and philosophy.
Leader: Dr. Michael Ivins, Humane Letters Teacher, Great Hearts Academies
When: June 5 – 16, 2023 | Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays | 12:30 – 2:30 pm (AZ), 2:30 – 4:30 pm (CDT)
The rise of modern science in the 17th century can be characterized by three essential features: an emphasis on direct observation, the development and employment of technology, and the mathematization of nature. Together with a fundamental shift in the aim of science from understanding the whole of nature and our place in it to the project of the “mastery and possession of nature” (René Descartes’ Discourse on Method, 1637), these three modes of understanding privileged by modern science have shaped our understanding of the world in ways we may not be entirely aware of. This makes the study of the tradition of the sciences as much a necessary part of our historical self-knowledge as the study of the humanities and even the facts of history.
Leader: Dr. Joshua Trevino, Former Humane Letters Teacher, Great Hearts Academies
When: June 13 – 29, 2023 | Tuesdays and Thursdays | 9:00 am – 11:00 am (AZ), 11:00 am – 1:00 pm (CDT)
A classical education ought to teach reverence for the classical tradition, and yet classical education teaches us the limitations of tradition. And so, when it comes to a thoroughly untraditional thinker like Nietzsche, the classical school should view Nietzsche with a wary eye. Its first impression must be something like, “Nietzsche is evil.” Indeed, Nietzsche also thought of himself in the same way in light of his thorough education in the classical tradition, and he thought that this was the correct starting point. But in understanding the limitations of tradition, a thorough understanding of Nietzsche would have to go beyond this starting point. So this course will discuss the reasons why we ought not to teach Nietzsche at a classical school, but like all rules of prudence, we will then need to understand the exceptions to that moral imperative. Nietzsche as educator will be our guide to what education ought to be and what it is not.
Leader: Dr. Reno Lauro, Classical Pedagogy and Curriculum Specialist, Coram Deo Academy
When: June 13 – 29, 2023 | Tuesdays and Thursdays | 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm (AZ), 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm (Central)
What does it mean for a classical school to posit the knowability of the cosmos and the power of human reason, yet also to strive to cultivate the moral imagination through literature? In this course, we will explore philosophical realism in the Western tradition through seminal figures such as Aquinas, Descartes, and Heidegger. The course primarily deals with questions of First Philosophy, where Metaphysics and Epistemology constitute the family of inquiries central to our course: What is reality and how do we know it? What is the population of reality? Is all reality material? Finally, we will explore 20th century attempts to reclaim a classical understanding of literature (and the real) by T.S. Eliot, J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis. Our aim is to enliven the synthetic relationship among English-language arts, math, and science curricula in a classical classroom.
Leader: Dr. Eliot Grasso, Vice President and Tutor, Gutenberg College
When: June 19 – 30, 2023 | Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm (AZ), 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm (CDT)
Augustine of Hippo started out as an obscure North African who rose to the ranks of rhetor to the highest echelons of Roman political life. Confessions takes the reader on the journey from boy to man, from Platonist to Christian, from follower to leader in the intellectual tradition of the West. This course examines Saint Augustine’s trajectory. In so doing, we will encounter the man, his ideas, his rhetoric, and his process in order to understand this key figure in the history of Western thought. In Confessions, Augustine unravels his own spiritual and intellectual journey while offering key insights into what it means to be human.
Leader: Joelle Hodge, Vice President of Operations, Sales, and Marketing, Classical Academic Press
When: June 19 – 30, 2023 | Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays | 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm (AZ), 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm (CDT)
Whether we realize it or not, we have suffered a loss of collective memory, and there are consequences to any society that allows itself to forget (individually or collectively in this case) essential parts of its rich heritage and the inheritance of its past. It has been said that the opposite of remembering is not forgetting; rather it is dismembering. That’s what has happened to our story. However, when we remember the women of the liberal arts tradition, we are essentially re-membering our history with the people and stories that create for us a more complete account of who we have been. A community that abdicates its responsibility to practice the habit of remembrance will be a community eventually forgotten. We must guard against allowing the dark amnesia of obscurity to rob us of the collective memory to which we are entitled.
For this course, we will explore the lost voices of women in the liberal arts tradition, and in particular, the works of Christine de Pizan. The information we seek to recover and remember is “so far back, thrust away” in “remote” places that it requires a “drawing forth by some other man’s teaching” to enable us as a community of educators to think those thoughts again. Our first lesson will focus on a high-level overview of the importance of memory, and provide a survey of the many women who could be chosen for future exploration and discovery.
Leader: Dr. Joshua Avery, Humane Letters Teacher, Great Hearts Academies
When: June 12 – 30, 2023 | Monday through Friday | 1:15 pm – 4:00 pm (AZ), 3:15 pm – 6:00 pm (CDT)
In this course, we will read and discuss selected texts from Shakespeare’s corpus. We will assume that Shakespeare’s art offers philosophical insights on the nature of the human condition and experience. The course will require significant daily readings, regular oral participation, and the composition of an interpretive essay.
(* Graduate credit through the University of Dallas available.)
Leader: Jerilyn Olson, Chief People Officer, Great Hearts Academies
When: Asynchronous course available from January 1 – August 31, 2023
In this 12-lesson course Jerilyn Olson connects classical principles to practical techniques that teachers can employ in the classroom.
As Great Hearts has grown from one school of 140 students to 32 schools with over 20,000 students by 2021, Jerilyn has had the opportunity to capture the best practices of teachers across multiple contexts and share those practices with each new campus. Teachers are truly at the center of every school and teaching is the work of practical wisdom—it is neither a pure philosophical endeavor nor a utilitarian social science. Newer classical school teachers often find it difficult to visualize what good practice looks like in one’s own particular context. Such teachers often hear talk about the Great Tradition, truth beauty goodness, and Platonic ideas but aren’t sure what means in particular for planning tomorrow’s lesson on fractions.
At the same time, practical teaching handbooks that are full of techniques and strategies aren’t easily harmonized with a classical pedagogy. How can we know how and when employ techniques from these sources?
Using classical rhetorical ideas and real-life anecdotes, Jerilyn seeks to bring together the great philosophies of classical education with effective, practical methods that good teachers employ every day. In these sessions, Jerilyn lays out a vision for practice—a description of what good teaching might look like, and how teachers can organize their ideas around the framework of rhetoric. Along the way, she gives some advice for your ongoing journey in learning good pedagogy, practicing, and getting feedback. Toward the end, she also gives advice to leaders who seek to help guide and develop effective classical teachers.
The course begins with a look at the personal formation every teacher must pursue in order to thrive in the classroom; the course then proceeds to look at how we can establish a classroom culture of order and joy. Finally, Jerilyn explores the classic framework of planning, instruction, and assessment through a classical lens.
Leader: Brighton Demerest-Smith, Studio Art Master Teacher, Great Hearts Academies
In this course, Brighton Demerest-Smith (a classically trained artist and veteran educator with Great Hearts Academies) moves from how to teach the elements of drawing up through still life and master study. Grounded in fundamentals and close observation of subjects, his methods of teaching drawing are traditional and time-tested.
In his work with teachers, Smith champions observational drawing. He limits students to drawing and painting solely from observation. His form of art education is analytical, Socratic, traditional and meant for all levels of students from very beginners to accomplished artists. Smith has carefully crafted a studio art curriculum that builds upon a tradition of drawing and painting which dates back to the 14th century.
Leader: Dr. Christopher Perrin, Chief Executive Officer, Classical Academic Press
The renewal of classical education has grown significantly over the last two decades. However, even seasoned classical educators agree that it can still be difficult to answer the fundamental question: “What is classical education?” In this foundational course, Dr. Christopher Perrin provides a clear definition of classical education and then explores key questions, including:
Leader: Joshua Gibbs, Humanities and Literature Teacher, Veritas School
In this course, Joshua Gibbs, upper-school humanities educator at the Veritas School in Richmond, Virginia, shares what he has learned over the course of 10 years about teaching the Great Books to upper-school students. He considers not only the character of teenage students and the challenges they face (such as acedia), but also the disposition appropriate to the teacher. Josh also addresses practical pedagogical issues: how to teach, how to read, how to create meaningful assignments and tests, how to manage parents, and how to create rhythms and traditions throughout the year that blend regularity and rhythm with the unexpected and surprise. This course also features several discussions between Josh and Dr. Christopher Perrin that will prompt further thought and discussion among those taking the course.
Leader: Jake Tawney, Chief Academic Officer, Great Hearts Academies
In this course, veteran mathematics teacher and leader Jake Tawney provides a clear and engaging introduction to the beauty of Mathematics. This course does not propose a specific curriculum. It does, however, present a list of “those things from mathematics you should have learned but probably didn’t.” In the opening lessons of the course you will hear that truth is effusive. Upon its discovery truth demands to be shared, and the mathematical proof is the medium through which mathematical truth is communicated. There are certainly no results in this course that Jake Tawney claims as his own, and many of the mathematical proofs are centuries old. These proofs represent, in a small way, some of the best that has been said within the discipline of mathematics.
The Academy for Classical Teachers is grateful to our institutional partners, whose generosity is helping us build bridges across the classical education movement.
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Classical U, an online teacher-training platform that provides a clear path toward mastery for classical educators seeking to understand the classical tradition of education and teach with excellence.
Great Hearts Institute, an outreach dedicated to renewing the tradition of classical education by directly supporting educators, school leaders, and families.
The University of Dallas, the Catholic University for Independent Thinkers, offers a Classical Education Graduate Program that fosters inquiry, cultivates virtue, and instills wisdom.