The colorful New England autumn is beginning to chill, and fall breezes are coaxing groups of chatting students inside. It’s not unusual for conversations to turn to the latest Theology class or a difficult Euclid proposition. Since the basis of the education at Thomas More College is the art of discussion, it is natural that students continue to discourse, both in and out of the classroom. Thomas More continues the great tradition of Western education with the classics of Western Civilization—not textbooks, but the works themselves.
The freshmen, in the midst of the Greek tragedies by Sophocles and Euripides, have been analyzing Greek ideas of revenge and justice. These plays, which deal with human attempts at justice, are complex lessons in cause and effect. While the Greek tragedies are often found dark, depressing, and dismal, they provoke profound discussion among students. “A big topic in class recently has been that justice and revenge were the same thing to the Greek mindset, but are different to us,” said Freshman Mary Grace Greer. “If you continue in the vicious cycle of an eye for an eye, you end up with chaos.”
When you are studying the Great Books, what is better to read than a book on how to read? The sophomores are examining the medieval theory of reading and education as set out in the Didascalicon of Hugh of St Victor. The educational theory that he put down in this text almost a thousand years ago is being practiced today in Thomas More classrooms. “The Didascalicon lays out a method of reading for those who seek wisdom,” said sophomore Theresa Scott. “I think this book will be a great help over the next two years.”
Juniors Lucy Clark and Erin Monfils shared their thoughts about “Freedom of a Christian” by Martin Luther. When asked whether they enjoyed the ideas of the famous reformer, the ladies responded that they were ready to move on to documents from the Council of Trent. Still, they did appreciate some sections. Lucy Clark realized she was “surprised by how many times Luther was right, but how many times he was so wrong.”Erin Monfils agreed, adding “He had a very beautiful line about how the soul with the word of God is like iron tested by fire.”
The seniors have just finished reading an essay by John Dewey, a late 19th century philosopher and educator who wanted to change the set curriculum of the liberal arts to a system in which the student chose courses to create a specialized degree. “The way Dewey talked about man knowing what’s best for himself reminded me of an idea from Rousseau, that man can develop his own nature, and it’s best that way,” reflected Senior Liam Mitchell. “It’s very different from Hugh of St Victor, who says the seven liberal arts are for everyone.”
And so passed another mere week for most of the world, but here at Thomas More there was yet another healthy portion of the “Meat and Potatoes” of the academic curriculum, namely, the Humanities Classes.