When I decided I wanted to be an artist, I started to investigate the training that was given traditionally to artists in the past. This involved the study of a number of things: how the skills of the art, painting and drawing for example, were transmitted; the great works of Catholic culture so that the artists understands the tradition in which he is working; and a formation of the person, so that he is open to inspiration, and can apprehend beauty and work beautifully.
This article is an attempt to articulate concisely what I discovered (and describe in greater length in the book the Way of Beauty) – that a formation in beauty, was not only part of a general Catholic education, but in fact was identical with what a general Catholic education ought to be, and so rarely is.
The only difference between an artist’s education and any good general education was the vocational element, in this case painting. It occurred to me that this could change according to the particular calling of each person. Then the rest would benefit every person, regardless of his precise calling in life and could complement all other study and human activity.
I believe also, incidentally, that this is a program that could be also a formation of people as evangelists who can participate in the New Evangelization, shining with the Light of Christ as they go about their daily business.
The content of the syllabus, which I do not describe in detail here is superficially similar to many humanities and liberal arts educations. However, in contrast to many of these existing educations (the ones that I have looked at, at least), it emphasizes in its pedagogical method more strongly what I see as an essential element, that of praxis – putting into practice what is learnt and so developing the faculty of the creativity by creating beautiful things..
The other key element – perhaps the most important – is that of consciously ordering of everything to man’s ultimate end and relating it to the highest form of praxis – the worship of God.
Teachers and students alike should be able to make the connection between any element of study and our purpose in life. Then the teachers know the answer to the question, why teach? And students know the answer to the question, why learn? And each will be motivated all the more to fulfill their (Read More)