So what is this Catholic philosophy that we need to maintain in the face of the Common Core?
The fundamental idea, drawn from the tradition of the liberal arts that goes back to ancient Greece, is that schooling is not primarily designed to churn out efficient components of an economic machine, able to “compete in a global economy,” but to nurture human beings and to free the soul from the forces that hold it enslaved. Not to impose faith, but to liberate the mind in such a way that it becomes able to make an objective judgment about faith for itself—not one dictated by the newspapers or social media, for example.
The three fundamental elements of the liberal tradition of schooling are Memory, Thought, and Speech (corresponding, as I show in my book, to Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric). Once these three elements are fully developed, a Christian ethos will be present in the school, because the ethos depends on belonging to the tradition of faith (Memory), on thinking intelligently about faith (Thought) and on forming a community in which this faith is lived and transmitted “heart to heart” (Speech).
This is from an article by Stratford Caldecott on The Core of Catholic Education. He goes on to say:
The Logos is that principle of unity on which all worldly truth, beauty and goodness converge. This sense of convergence is precisely what a good curriculum must try to cultivate—both by the content of the course and by the way it is taught.The Logos is of course the Word, and he notes that you don't have to be Christian to see the importance of unity and convergence, but that only Christians see the fullness of unity in the person of Christ who is “before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17)
"Heart speaks to heart" was the phrase Cardinal Newman took as his motto. I always thought it was striking that such an intellectual, essentially private and reticent man as Newman should choose such a phrase to represent his life's guiding principle, but I suppose that my surprise comes from the fact that like many in my century raised in the culture of Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek, I tend to think of mind and emotion as opposed to each other, even contradictory in nature.
In that light, I notice that Stratford Caldecott's formulation for the Trivium does not oppose reason, faith, and emotion to each other -- in the tradition of Augustine and Ignatius, he unifies them into a trinity, distinct, yet not disparate.
I suppose one of the reasons we tend to think of distinct things as separate and even opposite from each other is that they can seem to pull in different directions because of our divided human nature. But when that happens that probably means one side is out of whack with the other, and the task is to reconcile them. A supernatural task, no doubt, but one that can be undertaken in the ordinary day to day.
(edited to add: I found this quote on Education of the Heart while looking over one of my older blogs -- it seems quite applicable).
As we homeschool in a more relaxed, informal mode during the summer, I shall have to think about how that affects what I do in a given day. For the reason that US educational objective statements are always so unsatisfying is that the government has to dissect the heart from the thing and then explain how it lives. No one really wants our government meddling with our kids' hearts or pronouncing on the heart of education, but when you leave out that part of it you leave out what makes it what it is. I don't see this basic tangle being resolved any time soon on the government front, but individual people can make a difference. I suppose that's why the Incarnation, the Logos, manifested in a sort of cave and not in the palaces of kings.
On a different note, you may have already heard that Stratford Caldecott and his family need prayers, and what resulted from a campaign on his daughter's part. (also, it sounds like Mark Ruffalo's father could use prayers too, since he also is suffering from prostrate cancer). This whole thing -- grandchild and daughter, selfies of superheroes, and intercessory prayer -- will always remind me of convergence.