An educational degree programme is being introduced by a western U.S. Catholic university to prepare teachers and administrators for what one official calls the “embrace of more traditional forms” of Catholic Schools Education.
The Augustine Institute in Denver states on its website that it exists to support “the formation of Catholics for the new evangelization” by “equip[ping] Catholics intellectually, spiritually, and pastorally to renew the Church and transform the world for Christ.”
The institute, a Catholic graduate theology school created in 2005, is home to just over 300 students at this time. The newly created MA in Catholic Education programme, which will make its debut with a “soft launch” in October, is expected to gain several hundred new students.
According to Christopher Blum, professor of philosophy and theology and provost of the institute, the programme is intended to “contribute to the ongoing renewal of Catholic schools.”
“Renewal” Of Catholic Schools Education
Many Catholic schools nationwide are moving more and more towards “classical” educational approaches, which emphasise the liberal arts like grammar, rhetoric, mathematics, astronomy, and other formerly esteemed fields of study. Catholic schools that use this curriculum model place a strong focus on Catholic doctrine, scripture study, and ethereal but thoroughly researched ideas like truth, kindness, and beauty.
This method of instruction is being adopted by an increasing number of Catholic institutions. The Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, for example, made history in 2020 by being “the first [diocese] in the nation to fully move all of its schools to a classical Catholic curriculum.” Schools have recently shifted towards this paradigm in many places, including Colorado, Washington, Kentucky, and a great number of others.
The newly established Augustine Institute programme, according to Blum, was established with “an explicit commitment to the new evangelization and the embrace of more traditional forms of education.” Although this method of instruction is most frequently described as “classical,” the more correct term is “Catholic liberal education,” he claimed.
With concentrations in grammar school, classical pedagogy, humanities, science and maths, and catechetics, the programme is “grounded in Scripture and Catholic doctrine,” according to Blum. It also “offers pedagogical training from a Catholic and classical perspective” and allows students to specialise according to their own area of teaching.
According to Tim Grey, president of the Augustine Institute, there was a lot of interest in the programme before it was created.
“Bishops asked us: Hey, could you give us something more geared towards education? There is an urgent need, he said.
For the first programme, Grey said they already have a sizeable class enrolled.
He remarked, “It’s a mix [of students]. We have pastors who say, ‘I’m beginning, or just began, a classical education school, or we’re restarting our Catholic school, and we want to get our faculty on this.’ Many of the schools that we work with wish to send cohorts of instructors. Additionally, we’ve heard from individuals.
Some [students] are just finishing up their undergraduate studies; perhaps a teacher is seeking deeper formation, according to Grey.
According to him, the programme will enrol “a couple hundred students in three years.”
Grey predicted that the growing school choice movement will lead to a significant increase in the demand for instructors in Catholic schools.
“A lot of these voucher programmes in red states — that is going to bring in a wealth of students and money for Catholic schools,” he declared. “Therefore, they must train up people.”
Catholic schools have frequently benefited in areas where school choice has been increased.