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I have heard over and over, and said myself that MoDG is “light” on math and science. Is this true?

First, we must remember that our curriculum is geared to dovetail with the university education at Thomas Aquinas College. Our curriculum is KGRD through Bachelor’s degree. Now, my kids aren’t going to attend school there, so I need to understand the big picture so I can adapt it. I assumed I already knew it. To me, “Liberal Arts” means “no heavy math and science.” Here are some comments (emphasis mine) on math and science from the school site.

*“A Thomas Aquinas College student receives the diploma only after completing a total of 28 math credits. This exceeds the requirements for a math minor at most colleges and universities, and several graduate programs have credited our graduates as such.*

*Besides the “mathematics” courses, our students do advanced math in both the junior and senior natural science courses as well. This is, in fact, a stumbling block for many students attracted to our focus on the discussion method, the great books, and our commitment to the Faith. Our admissions director could testify that we have lost many good prospects when they realized the extent to which our curriculum focuses on math.”*

Here’s the math syllabus:

Euclid *Elements*

Plato *Timaeus*

Ptolemy *Almagest*

Copernicus* Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres*

Apollonius *On Conic Sections*

Kepler *Epitome of Copernican Astronomy, Astronomia Nova*

Archimedes *On Conoids and Spheroids*

Viete *Standard Enumeration of Geometric Results, Introduction to the Analytic Art*

Descartes *Geometry*

Archimedes *Quadrature of the Parabola*

Mathematical works of *Hippocrates, Archimedes, Cavalieri, Pascal, Leibniz, Bernoulli, Newton, Berkeley, Balzano,et alia*

Pascal *Generation of Conic Sections*

Taylor *Integral Calculus*

Dedekind *Essay on the Theory of Numbers*

Lobachevski *Geometrical Researches On The Theory Of Parallels*

I have a minor in math, and this list makes me hyperventilate.

Here’s the science one. It looked like what I expected from a “Liberal Arts” school, until it hit Laviosier. From there on, it’s bonkers.:

Aristotle *Parts of Animals*

DeKoninck * The Lifeless World of Biology*

Fabre *Souvenirs Entomologiques*

Galen *On the Natural Faculties*

Harvey * On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals*

Linnaeus *Systema Naturae*

Pascal *On the Equilibrium of Liquids*

Archimedes *On Floating Bodies*

Mendel *Plant Hybridization*

Scientific papers of Driesch, Gould and Marler, Tinbergen, Goethe, Virchow, von Frisch, et alia

*Measurements Manual*

Aristotle *On Generation and Corruption*

St. Thomas Aquinas * On the Principles of Nature, On the Combination of the Elements*

Lavoisier *Elements of Chemistry*

Avogadro *Masses and Proportions of Elementary Molecules*

Dalton *Proportion of Gases in the Atmosphere*

Gay-Lussac *Combination of Gaseous Substances*

Pascal *Treatise on the Weight of the Mass of Air*

Scientific papers of Berthollet, Couper, Lavoisier, Mendeleev, Richter, Wollaston, Cannizzaro,et alia

*Atomic Theory Manual*

Descartes *Principles of Philosophy*

Galileo *Two New Sciences*

Newton * Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy*

Einstein *Relativity: The Special and the General Theory*

Huygens *Treatise on Light*

Newton *Optiks*

Maxwell *A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism*

Gilbert *De Magnete*

Ampere *Papers*

*Mechanics, Waves, and Optics Manual*

* Electricity and Magnetism Manual*

Again, I HAVE a degree in Chemistry. I got a semester into my PhD in organometallics and non-linear optics before I realized I just wasn’t suited to lab work, and I’m not sure I could get through this reading list!

Our K-12 stuff is supposed to have them ready for this syllabus? Wow. Tell me more.

The next questions that follows is, BUT WHY? Why is this Liberal Arts Education so math heavy? They give lots of reasons. The whole article is a must-read, if you ask me. But, I like the following two quotes the best (emphasis mine):

*“But in pursuit of wisdom, we have to listen for what is true, not what we want to be true. Mathematics is an excellent preparation for this. Here we grow accustomed to recognizing good arguments and removing our passions from our reasoning process.”*

I really wish more people knew how to do that! It’s not reason and faith that are incongruous, in my experience, it’s reason and passion.

And this one (emphasis mine):

*“We are not gathering students from around the world to contemplate their navels or even to think fuzzy, sweet thoughts about Jesus. We do not aim at this caricature of a liberal arts student. We want to help young minds make a good beginning on the road to wisdom. This is very difficult and takes sharp and careful reasoning. A heavy mathematical foundation sets the bar high, but it also helps strengthen the mind for the heavy lifting that must be done.”*

Oops! They knew that’s what I was thinking! Liberal Arts, as early as an hour ago, still kind of meant “navel contemplation” to me. Yikes. How embarrassing.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

I do have a student at TAC who has completed the MODG Syllabi. We never enrolled, but I feel confident that he will be well prepared for his grad school work in either human or animal medicine. TAC will give him the ethical basis which is so important today. Because he will not have the official names of classes, he will have to take chem and biochem at a local college before he goes on. A few other graduates of TAC have done this before him.

Neato! I love hearing this kind of thing.

I must admit surprise! I did not realize that Thomas Aquinas’ math curriculum was so heavy. I love the 4 arguments for why math is important to learn and master, thanks for covering this.

I haven’t looked beyond 5GRD for MODG. But I had assumed that the later years of a strictly-followed MODG curriculum would not prepare students for such a rigorous college mathematics syllabus as that offered by Thomas Aquinas. But it must, right? Otherwise there’s no way a MODG-schooled child would be prepared for the TA syllabus. And that seems an unlikely assumption, given the relationships between people at both institutions, as you mentioned in an earlier post.

I have a PhD in microbiology from a large state university in the Pacific NW, and an undergrad degree in microbiology from a large state university in the midwest, and did a postdoctoral fellowship in a highly-regarded lab at a private university in the NE, and then flirted with an academic career at a state university in Texas before finally realizing my vocation as mother and home educator. So I can evaluate, to some degree, the depth/breadth/rigor of a pre-med/pre-grad biological studies curriculum.

I was struck by TA’s Natural Sciences curriculum and how foundational it was. I was asked to study *none* of these books by my undergrad or grad, and am probably poorer, intellectually, for it. But these seem to be more historical tomes rather than current. So my quick conclusion is that TA’s Nat Sci curriculum would not prepare students adequately for graduate studies in natural sciences/medicine/dentristry/etc. Maybe I’ll be dissuaded of this once I delve into their curriculum more. However, I did find this at Cardinal Newman’s summary of the college: “The circumscribed curriculum causes pre-medical students to need additional coursework before attending medical school.” So I think my quick assumption is correct.

It’s neat, right? We should have a mom’s nerdy book club.