Saint Agnes School was honored to host international visitors from Australia and Indonesia. Our guests sought us out in order to observe our curriculum in action, as they work to incorporate more of the Catholic intellectual tradition, liberal arts, and classical approach into their respective programs. While it’s not uncommon for us to receive visitors from other parts of Minnesota and the upper Midwest, it was a special privilege to open our doors to two representatives from Sydney Catholic Schools in Australia and eight delegates from Santa Laurensia School in Indonesia.
We invite you to take a look at an excerpt of one visitor’s observations and reflections on her time at Saint Agnes School:
It was a privilege to be able to visit Saint Agnes School. Our introduction to the school community was impressive. We noted the observably ‘Catholic’ identity in classrooms and around the school grounds, as evidenced through artwork and statues that emphasised the Catholicity of Saint Agnes.
We had the opportunity to undertake a number of classroom observations throughout the day and also to speak to staff throughout the visit. The engagement of the students in the lessons and the depth of their knowledge of such a broad range of disciplines was remarkable. Typically, in Australia, students do not draw on their knowledge of and from other subjects across subjects. This skill was a clearly observable feature and benefit of being trained in the classical approach.
One lesson that stood out particularly was the Great Conversations class we encountered in the morning. This class had only just begun to engage with the seminar style and Socratic method, yet they were sophisticated in their use of both the text and other philosophical works when exploring the concepts of socialism, nihilism and Nietzche – all themes which come out of the works.
As we observed classes throughout the different levels of schooling we could see the progression of how students learn to participate in and develop the skills involved in engaging in a classical curriculum especially the Socratic method, beginning with Elementary schooling and the Shared Inquiry approach using the Great Junior Books series.
What was clearly evident in the entire school was that students came to class ready, and able, to participate. They were active learners with a perceivable depth of knowledge in the Catholic tradition. It was also apparent throughout the entire school that a Catholic language and practice was clearly articulated (and believed) by staff and students at all levels and also clearly understood.
It was apparent as well that the school had invested in the training of their teachers in the methodology of the liberal arts curriculum in order to be true to the classical method.
The most powerful part of the day was being able to hear the schola perform. If the curriculum is about exploring what is good true and beautiful, this was beautiful.
We would genuinely like to extend our thanks to the school for the time given to us during our visit and the community of Saint Agnes School for welcoming us and allowing us to observe their classrooms and talk to students.