What is the Chesterton Network of Schools?

A collaborative venture of the American Chesterton Society and Chesterton Academy, the Chesterton Schools Network aims to inspire and encourage parent-led Catholic schools across the nation. The Network offers consulting services, templates for evaluating interest and operating a school, and the Chesterton Academy curriculum framework. This framework includes a four-year, sequential, integrated curriculum overview with high-level day-to-day lesson plans, reading lists, and sample tests. The framework provides school founders with a blueprint for marketing, hiring and evaluating faculty, acquiring resources, scheduling, and assessing state requirements. Participation  in the Network of Chesterton Academy schools is a way of facilitating best practices in a school’s operational procedures.

What are Chesterton Academies like?

All Chesterton Academies are independent high schools that utilize the award-winning curriculum model of the founding Chesterton Academy in Edina, MN, which was recognized by Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll as a 2014 School of Excellence, an honor given to less than five percent of the Catholic high schools in the United States. Schools receiving this designation are marked by the integration of Catholic identity throughout all aspects of their programs, and by excellence in academics.

All Network schools are faithful to the Church and work with a more comprehensive definition of “education” than is common today. We understand the human person in totality, as body and soul, created in the Image of God.  The goal of education in a Chesterton Academy begins with the ultimate purpose of a human being in mind. Thus, the purpose is to impart truth and training for the complete person, to help one journey to salvation.

All the Academies offer a classical education taught in the tradition of the Catholic faith. This means it’s liberal-arts as opposed to vocational, and eternal in purpose as opposed to merely temporal. Chesterton Academy is not just job training, but an informing of the intellect and a training of the will. Faith and reason meet in every class.

What is Chesterton Academy of the Willamette Valley?

G.K. Chesterton Academy of the Willamette Valley exists for the Glory of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our vision is to bring all young men and women to love the Risen Christ with their whole heart, mind and soul through a Catholic Liberal-Arts education.  What this ultimately looks like is to have a sustainable and successful classical high school in the Catholic tradition in the Willamette Valley.  Being connected with the Network offers a promising start.  It provides a proven track record, curricular framework, operation principles, and a national network with the tools for long-term success.  

Our Mission Statement:

In order to foster and renew the Culture of Life, we teach young men and women in the Catholic liberal- arts tradition. Our school is rooted in agrarian values that supports traditional family life, love of the natural order, and a commitment to local and civic responsibilities.

What is a Classical, or Liberal-Arts, Education?

“For this school, ‘classical’ or ‘liberal-arts’ education means a particular goal, methodology, and curriculum. The curriculum is historical: Greek and Roman philosophers, the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, early Church Fathers, great texts of the medieval and modern periods, down to contemporary thinkers and issues.  The method is fundamentally oral: close reading paired with Socratic questioning and seminars, though also traditional lectures and persuasive speaking and writing. The goal is a breadth of integrated knowledge, a habit of disciplined curiosity about the world around us and above us, and a pattern of cheerful and virtuous living. In short, a fully human person.”

Could I know a little more about a Classical, or Liberal-Arts, Education?

The idea of a classical, or liberal-arts, education goes back to B.C. Athens. In his Nicomachean Ethics, the philosopher Aristotle classifies knowledge into three types: theoretical, productive, and practical. Theoretical knowledge exists in the mind, like biology or theology or mathematics. It studies theories and the underlying structures of things.  Productive knowledge exists in the hands, like baking or brewing or mechanics. Its object is how to make things.  Practical knowledge exists in the heart, like parenting or pastoral care or leadership. Its object is how to act well in a given situation. Traditionally, liberals arts was a training in the first type of knowledge, theoretical knowledge. In Christian contexts, this is sometimes linked with “contemplation.” In other contexts this is called the love of knowledge “for its own sake.” Most recently, the liberal arts are defined in opposition to specialization. A liberal-arts student studies a breadth of subjects, rather than specializing in one field and not reading or studying outside of it. The idea is to education the whole person, and not just one side of the brain or one chamber of the heart.

What does the word “liberal” from “liberal arts” mean?

The word “liberal” comes from the Latin liber, meaning free. Traditionally, it was the style of education that free men engaged in. It was assumed the pupil’s family had leisure. Thus the student did not need to engage in manual labor to help support his family, nor go into an apprenticeship for his future economic security.  It was an education for gentlemen, for free men. It can also be described as a style of education that frees the soul of man from vices of mind and heart through the elucidation of his intellect and the cultivation of virtue.