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About the Lyceum

Frequently Asked Questions

Why study Latin and Greek?

A strong curriculum in the classical languages is one of the secrets of our curriculum that not only explains our near 100% college acceptance rate, but also why our students achieve such success in college. It is at the very heart of a classical curriculum. Moreover a strong emphasis on leaning the Latin language, specifically, is especially important for those who wish to form their children according to the heart and mind of the Church.

In addition we might add the following:

  • Nationwide studies have shown that the study of Latin is the key to success on the SAT - especially the verbal portion of the exam
  • The study of Latin and Greek are the most effective way to teach language itself. (i.e. grammar, composition, and Rhetoric)
  • The classical language give students a passport to understanding all classical thinkers from Newton to Gallileo to St Thomas Aquinas and all the fathers of the Church- as Pope Blessed John XXIII said in Veterum Sapientiae:
    • “It is a general passport to the proper understanding of the Christian writers of antiquity and the documents of the Church's teaching.”

What exactly are the Liberal Arts and why are they so important?

The seven liberal arts are divided between the three arts of The Trivium and the four arts of The Quadrivium

  • The Trivium (or three ways) – Grammar Rhetoric and Logic
  • The Quadrivium (or four ways) – Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy

Broadly these arts develop the student so that he can master language and thinking for himself (i.e. logically), and with the arts of The Quadrivium the student is developed so that he has a deep understanding of mathematical theory and a scientific mind.

Read more about this »

Why study Euclid?

Euclid’s Elements is easily the most influential and beautiful work in the history of Science and Mathematics. It is second only to the Bible in the number of editions published. Among works that have formed the most influential thinkers in History, Elements ranks very near the top. This is not surprising given the fact that the work was a presumed part of the curriculum for any well educated person for centuries. Among the chief benefits of studying Euclid are the following:

  • The study of Euclid is the most effective way to teach a student “what science is” and how scientific thinking must proceed. Consequently this study has the effect of igniting the thirst for science in students. This is what Albert Einstein meant when he said:

      "If Euclid did not kindle your youthful enthusiasm, you were not born to be a scientific thinker."

  • The study of Euclid teaches students how to think. It teaches students that there is objective truth and gives them the confidence to know it on their own.
  • There is simply no better way to teach logic to the High school student than through teaching Euclid’s Elements. This is what Abraham Lincoln meant when he said:

      “At last I said,--Lincoln, you never can make a lawyer if you do not understand what demonstrate means; and I left my situation in Springfield, went home to my father's house, and stayed there till I could give any proposition in the six books of Euclid at sight. I then found out what demonstrate means, and went back to my law studies."

Each student studies the individual theorem (i.e. proposition) and then demonstrates the theorem at the board in front of his peers. The audience listens critically and ask questions about any point of the demonstration that is unclear. Aside from learning mathematics the student learns how to think logically and critically in the Euclid class.

Why the Great Books?

In school a student may either read

  • Committee-written textbooks (as good as they are) that change every 2 to 5 years, or
  • Excellent works written by a single brilliant author, which have stood the test of time.
The great books are called “great” because they were written by the men and women who were gifted with genius or extraordinary brilliance. They were written by people who had a brilliant grasp of reality and the truth in some aspect, and were able to speak to others in a way that has a transformative effect upon their minds. We want our students to encounter as much as possible a one on one meeting with brilliant minds. We want our students to engage in the “great ideas” learning to think for themselves.

For a more complete explanation see http://thomasaquinas.edu/a-liberating-education/great-books

Why no textbooks?

“Text books” are a relatively new phenomenon in the history of education. While there may be many causes for the educational crisis which besets our nation, the use of textbooks must certainly be considered one of them. Prior to the advent of the modern “text book,” “great books were the norm. For example, John Adams, our second President in a letter of reference for his son, John Quincy Adams, wrote:

    "He has translated Virgil’s Aeneid, Suetonious, the whole of Sallust and Tactitus’s Agricola, his Germany, and several books of his Annals, a great part of Horace, some of Ovid, and some of Caesar’s commentaries, in writing, besides a number of Tully’s orations…In Greek his progress has not been equal; yet he has studied morsels in Aristotle’s Poetics, in Plutarch’s Lives, and Lucian’s Dialogues, the choice of Hercules, in Xenophon, and lately he has gone through several books in Homer’s Iliad…We went with some accuracy through the geometry in the Preceptor, the eight books of Simpson’s Euclid in Latin, and compared it problem by problem and theorem by theorem, with le pere de Charles in French; we went through plane trigonometry and plain sailing…"

Other famous people who were educated through the great books include:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Albert Einstein
  • St. Augustine
  • Pope Benedict XVI
  • Copernicus Sir Isaac Newton
  • Galileo
  • Mortimer Adler
  • St. Thomas Aquinas
  • Thomas Jefferson
      …and many, many more.

Why begin The Lyceum in the 7th and 8th grade?

The transition from Middle school to High school involves not only learning to manage the increased responsibilities that arise from taking multiple courses and increased levels of homework, but also learning to prioritize school work with the various other extra-curricular projects and responsibilities that a student may have. This transition might present a challenge for a student with even very good study habits. For this reason, enrolling in The Lyceum in the seventh or eighth grade can go far to prepare a student for success in is High school years. The classical languages, in particular, offer a striking example of the advantage of early entrance.

The middle school years also present a challenge for parents and students, because these are the years when natural growth accompanied by increased social pressure beckons him to explore and experiment with an increased sense of independence. While parents certainly wish to encourage the natural growth and maturation of their children, they will want to make certain that this growth happen in as wholesome an environment as possible. They will want their children to grow in a joyful atmosphere surrounded by children from families with shared values.

Can I afford the 7th and 8th grade?

While our grade school tuition is higher than that of most Diocesan grade schools, we will entertain any reasonable request for financial aid based on need.

Why no AP classes?

As a College Board Level III Test Center, The Lyceum does offer AP Tests on site, but the school makes a very judicious selection of AP tests that it chooses to offer. For example Lyceum students taking calculus have often chosen to take the AP “Calculus AB Exam,” because this exam represents a solid understanding of problem solving in Calculus that we wish our students to obtain.

Likewise our students have the option to take the AP Virgil Latin exam because here again the exam presents a learning goal which matches well with what the school would like students to learn when studying Virgil’s Aeneid.

Students may also study for other AP tests (e.g. AP English or American History) but the school does not specifically prepare students for these tests because they require a significant amount of focus on subjects and concepts that distract from the school’s own college preparatory curriculum.

Will I get accepted into college?

Although The Lyceum is a relatively new school, it is quickly gaining a reputation for academic excellence because of the success which our graduates are having in college. Many of our graduates are receiving full tuition scholarships at fine secular and Catholic colleges throughout the country. Graduates of The Lyceum are studying engineering, pre-medicine, liberal arts, directing and producing, psychology, theology, literature, politics, and classics. Many colleges and universities are actively seeking out our graduates to enroll in their institutions. Lyceum students are prepared for college because they have learned to think well and deeply.

Does the child of average intelligence benefit from this type of learning?

Classical education is an education for everyone no matter what intellectual gifts they may or may not have. The beauty of the classical curriculum is that it has the power to make the ordinary mind capable of extraordinary thoughts. On the other hand because of the intrinsic value of the “great books,” no student is wasting his time by reading and discussing them. In this way the classical curriculum is an “equalizer.” There is something for every mind to discover and grow.

An obvious example of this is The Holy Bible. It is meant for everyone and of immense value for every mind to read and ponder. There is something like this with the great books. Euclid’s Elements are for everyone. The Iliad is a work for everyone. And so it is with all the great books.

What other questions should I be asking?

It is difficult to choose a school for your student. We suggest that each parent prayerfully ask the following questions (at least) when they begin to discern the right school for their child.

  • Are the books worth reading? (Just as parents might monitor what movies their children watch, so too it is a good idea for parents to become familiar with the books that their children will read)
  • Does the school offer a curriculum that teaches students how to think logically? What courses specifically?
  • What value does the school place on reading original sources?
  • Does the school think that the “lecture method” is best or does it place a high value on the active engagement of the learner through regular discussion?
  • Does the school community- faculty, parents and students, consider itself as a community of learners pursuing the truth, or is it just the students who are learning from paid “specialists?”
  • Is the Catholic Faith integral to the life of the school? Is this Faith expressed in the school day and the lives of the student body and school community?