Welcome to the Middle School Classical Curriculum web page . For information on Epiphany’s Classical Curriculum, Grade Level Syllabus or Helpful Links please chose one of the tabs above. If you would like to see your child’s academic progress, please login to educate.tads.com to view your child’s current grades.
Listed below you will find a yearly Classical Curriculum classroom calendar with grade level assignments and school events for 7th and 8th grade students.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com
William J. Lasseter
Director of Curriculum
In the Phaedrus, Plato (through his mouthpiece, Socrates) shares the allegory of the chariot to explain the tripartite nature of the human soul or psyche.
The chariot is pulled by two winged horses, one mortal and the other immortal. The mortal horse is deformed and obstinate. Plato describes the horse as a “crooked lumbering animal, put together anyhow…of a dark color, with grey eyes and blood red complexion; the mate of insolence and pride, shag eared and deaf, hardly yielding to whip and spur.” The immortal horse, on the other hand, is noble and game, “upright and cleanly made…his color is white, and his eyes dark; he is a lover of honor and modesty and temperance, and the follower of true glory; he needs no touch of the whip, but is guided by word and admonition only.” In the driver’s seat is the charioteer, tasked with reining in these disparate steeds, guiding and harnessing them to propel the vehicle with strength and efficiency. The charioteer’s destination? The ridge of heaven, beyond which he may behold the Forms: essences of things like Beauty, Wisdom, Courage, Justice, Goodness — everlasting Truth and absolute Knowledge. These essences nourish the horses’ wings, keeping the chariot in flight.
The charioteer joins a procession of gods, led by Zeus, on this trip into the heavens. Unlike human souls, the gods have two immortal horses to pull their chariots and are able to easily soar above. Mortals, on the other hand, have a much more turbulent ride. The white horse wishes to rise, but the dark horse attempts to pull the chariot back towards the earth. As the horses pull in opposing directions, and the charioteer attempts to get them into sync, his chariot bobs above the ridge of heaven then down again, and he catches glimpses of the great beyond before sinking once more.
If the charioteer is able to behold the Forms, he gets to go on another revolution around the heavens. But if he cannot successfully pilot the chariot, the horses’ wings wither from lack of nourishment, or break off when the horses collide and attack each other, or crash into the chariots of others. The chariot then plummets to earth, the horses lose their wings, and the soul becomes embodied in human flesh. The degree to which the soul falls, and the “rank” of the mortal being it must then be embodied in is based on the amount of Truth it beheld while in the heavens. Rather like the idea of reincarnation. The degree of the fall also determines how long it takes for the horses to regrow their wings and once again take flight. Basically, the more Truth the charioteer beheld on his journey, the shallower his fall, and the easier it is for him to get up and get going again. The regrowth of the wings is hastened by the mortal soul encountering people and experiences that contain touches of divinity, and recall to his memory the Truth he beheld in his preexistence. Plato describes such moments as looking “through the glass dimly” and they hasten the soul’s return to the heavens.
Plato is troping here both the myth of the youth Phaethon failing in his attempt to drive Apollo’s chariot, and the story of Icarus flying too close to the sun. Whichever story we follow, Plato’s, the Phaethon story, or the myth of Icarus, we are reading here a warning about education. The point is that the human person is composed of both matter and soul – we are neither a soul encased in a body, nor a body with a soul, but both body and soul together. If we are ever to improve, grow in our intellectual & spiritual lives, behold the greatest ideas and most noble creations of human culture we have to train ourselves to live in the paradoxical tension of the incarnate world.
The paradox of our existence is not that we are matter and soul, but rather that we have within us, in our hearts, our souls, our minds, our very being (what the Greeks called our “nous”) the light and the dark horse. Every person is capable of tremendous greatness, beauty, goodness, magnificent kindness and magnanimous behavior. This is the light horse. But every person is also capable of unfathomable cruelty, darkness, violence, pusillanimous bestiality and petty damnation. This capacity for darkness is what the Church calls concupiscence, or what Saint Thomas calls “the Fomes” – since they foment rebellion in the soul. This is the dark horse. Each man and woman must guide the light horse toward the right things and must become capable of governing their darker inclinations, ordering them to the right ends, restraining them from their tendency to become destructive. We each must be good charioteers.
This is what the Classical Liberal Arts seeks to do.
To be clear, what we experience in the modern era is neither a Classical education, privilege of the wealthy men of the Ancient world and designed to make good statesman and rhetoricians, nor is it the authentic Liberal Arts, available to the princes and aspiring monks of the Medieval Era who sought to enter the political or ecclesiastical world. The first was a study of inquiry into the nature of things based on a Platonic idea of the Forms, or Eidoi and consisted of the Socratic method of inquiry. The second had two parts to it, the Trivium, or “three ways” of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric which taught how to think, and the Quadrivium, or “four ways” of Arithmetic, Astronomy, Geometry, and Music, which provided subject matter to think about. Instead our aspirations encompass both teaching methods. Add to them the Renaissance Humanist studies of history, art, poetry and literature, include the Enlightenment studies of Science based on skepticism, empiricism, and rationalism, and finish with the Catholic emphasis on Theological understanding and we have quite a program.
Call it what we will, the goal is the same. “All men seek happiness,” says Aristotle. No one wants to crash and burn as does Phaethon when he impetuously tries to drive the chariot of the sun. His plummet to the earth burns huge swathes of land and jeopardizes civilization itself until at last it becomes necessary for Zeus himself to blast the young drag racer out of the sky with a thunderbolt. Justice must be done after all. Nor does anyone wish upon another the fate of Icarus who, escaping from that maze of human thought, the Labyrinth, flies too high with his wax wings, is burned by the sun, and plummets to his death in the Aegean sea. No, we must be prepared for flight through moderation, questioning, and self-governance. We must all be good charioteers. If we are to find real happiness we have to be free (autonomous, liberal) enough to fly to the loftiest heights of joy. Our hearts seek happiness and the greatest happiness is in God Himself. It is true what Saint Augustine says that, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”
The Classical Liberal Arts accomplishes this task of charioteering specifically through a series of questions known as The Dialectic. The Dialectic, or Socratic Method, is a personal confrontation with the reality of God’s creation. Though it is personal, it must involve a communal experience between the student and the mentor, between the student and the authors of the greatest works of the Western world, and between the student and their fellow learners. Inevitably this leads the student to a personal experience of God Himself. This confrontation occurs from the early stages of a young student’s life through the use of inquiry. By asking questions of the student a teacher leads the student through levels of understanding until they themselves ask the right questions. It is then that they themselves can govern the dark horse and the light; it is then that they learn to fly with both wings.
Once capable of governing itself, once autonomous, the darkness of the soul can be changed into a spouse, or bride of the truth – doing the what is right because of love. This aspect is no longer the dark, dragonish rebel of carnal concupiscence, no longer “the Fomes” but the bride of the good, the true, and the beautiful seen in the spirit of the white horse. Thus Saint John, after seeing the New Heaven and the New Earth at the end of the book of revelation proclaims that the water of eternal life is available to the self-governed soul.
“The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
Through the Classical Liberal Arts we are attempting to train young people to be self-aware, self-critical, self-disciplined; attempting to reveal to them the wealth of treasures, both intellectual and artistic, which is their inheritance; attempting to show to them the beauty in the created world that leads them to see the good, the true, and the beautiful of God’s order in the Logos. A Classical Liberal Arts Education primarily seeks to instill in students a sense of wonder – to grow in them the skill of seeing multiple sides to an issue – to ground them in the desire for truth – to initiate them into a lifelong love of learning. Ultimately a Classical Liberal Arts Education seeks to make young men and women arbiters of their own happiness – free men and women –
as new trees are
renewed when they bring forth new boughs…
pure and prepared to climb unto the stars.
Spanning a career of over twenty years, Mr. Lasseter has taught in Texas and in Minnesota, both in the logic and rhetoric school levels. He began his acquaintance with the classical curriculum attending Trinity School at Greenlawn in South Bend, Indiana, soon after his family’s conversion from the Anglican church to Catholicism. Mr. Lasseter continued his college education attending William & Mary College in Virginia, followed by Thomas More College in New Hampshire, and finishing his Bachelor’s degree at University of Dallas in Texas before going on to achieve a Master’s degree in English. During his time at the University of Dallas he sang with the Renaissance choir, “Collegium Cantorum”, performing concerts and masses in the Dallas area, touring in the Rhine valley in Germany; singing in Rome, Assisi, and Palestrina in Italy; and participating in vocal performances in Hungary and Vienna. It was while singing in Salzburg that he met his future wife. Mr. Lasseter was also a contributing member of the faculty at Trinity School at River Ridge and a founding member of Providence Academy where he worked for thirteen years serving both as teacher of Latin, history and English literature & composition, and as chair of the English department. He also served at Chesterton Academy both as director of curriculum and teacher of 10th and 11th grade history and 11th and 12th grade literature. His interests range from pop culture movies, games, and books, to history, to Renaissance music, to Shakespeare and Plato, to art and composition. In addition to his love for historical and literary figures such as Erasmus, J.R.R.Tolkien, John Donne, Flannery O’Connor and Josef Pieper, he has a particular devotion to Saint Thomas More, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Saint Arnulf of France. Mr. Lasseter brings a tremendous enthusiasm for inquiry and learning to his classroom and enjoys guiding his students to self- knowledge and an awareness of their cultural heritage in the Dialectic of the Western Liberal Arts.
Mr. Lasseters held a Classical Curriculum Evening for parents on Tuesday, September 12. If you were unable to attend want want to learn more check out his video Classical Curriculum Evening 2017