An education in Aristotle, animal husbandry and 5.30am starts
Though many students may dread waking at 7:30am for the start of a new school week, for me, rising at 5.30am for a three-hour train trip every Monday couldn’t dampen my delight at attending the Augustine Academy.
Over the past year I have had the joy of studying the history, philosophy, literature and theology of Western Culture along with playing weekly soccer games, learning to swing dance and hiking at the beautiful rural campus coupled with drama, swimming and watching individuals more talented than myself perform in our weekly talent nights.
Our group of 21 students developed a close bond as we delved into the works of Aristotle, Augustine, Homer, Chaucer, Aquinas, Shakespeare, Dante, Machiavelli, Marx, Victor Hugo, much of C.S.Lewis and John Paul II to name a few. Students could also take Agriculture classes as an elective. While I preferred to stay indoors on the couch, many students loved being outdoors and learning to build, plant and practice animal husbandry.
Our learning traced the evolution of Western Culture from its birthplace in Ancient Greece and Rome with its great thinkers and fable writers to the Medieval period and the spread of Christianity, Viking raids, Crusades and the Scholastic attempt to reconcile faith with reason in the West while Islamic and Jewish philosophy was prospering in the East.
In the second semester we moved on to the Renaissance, Humanism, the Protestant Reformation, French Revolution, Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution up to the Industrial Revolution, the World Wars and the rise and fall of Communism.
Studying the liberal arts enables students to understand how Western Culture arrived at its present state and review for themselves whether its foundations and values are based in truth or fabrications. It also teaches profound lessons on the Christian faith, morality and the human condition and encourages students to pursue truth, goodness and beauty rather than high marks alone.
Whether alumni continue with the liberal arts or pursue other study, the friends made and the lessons learned at Augustine Academy in critical thinking, how to express opinions, research and writing skills and knowledge of God can be carried into every endeavour and into our personal lives.
My year at the Academy has been one of the most enjoyable and fruitful of my life. I cannot wait to see the Academy continue to grow and produce future generations of wiser scholars, farmers, dancers, mechanics, chefs and most importantly Christians.
Elizabeth Doyle, 17, is a parishioner of St Paul’s Chapel, Royal Military College, Duntroon. She will continue her liberal arts studies at Campion College in NSW next year.