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:
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
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
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
Maxwell A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism
Gilbert De Magnete
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.