Introduction

Note: The following is excerpted from the full SHS Curriculum.

"When we speak of an educated person, we might have different images in mind: a renaissance man who has excelled in a variety of disciplines; someone who can speak intelligibly about a broad range of topics; an academically successful student with grades that open doors to Harvard or MIT; a specialist in a field such as mathematics or physics who is able to reference terms that are only intelligible to the elite few. But what really constitutes an educated person-the end result of years of pedagogy and formation? At what point is a person considered educated, and what target should a student focus on in their quest for education? Perhaps there are different goals for different fields, or perhaps we can come to an overarching goal for all of humanity. Current theorists in education claim that all teachers have their own definition of the purpose and function of education. Some philosophies claim to be more holistic than others. Some even deal with the formation of the soul. To prove this point, in an article on education, one educator presented a series of quotes from different educators and prominent historic figures illustrating the spectrum of beliefs concerning the goals and definition of education:

"No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure."

 ~Emma Goldman

"The only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life-by developing his mind and equipping him to deal with reality. The training he needs is theoretical, i.e., conceptual. He has to be taught to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He has to be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past-and he has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort."

 ~Ayn Rand 

"The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think-rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with the thoughts of other men."

~Bill Beattie

"The one real object of education is to leave a man in the condition of continually asking questions."

~Bishop Creighton

"The central job of schools is to maximize the capacity of each student."

 ~Carol Ann Tomlinson

Parents should at least be aware of what philosophy their children are being subjected to, especially if it is contrary to their own convictions and beliefs. If the purpose of education is not set in stone, even in the public sector, then it is important for a Christian parent to desire Christian goals for their child’s education. All parents should ask the following question: what are the goals presented to my child as the end result of their education? The answer to this question and the measures that a parent must take in order to act on the answer is a vital topic in the formation of children, and will be addressed from an Orthodox Christian perspective throughout the entirety of this curriculum.

 

Religious Studies

"Of all of the subjects, religious studies is the queen-the most central of all. Though we call it a "subject" it is essentially the foundation of all subjects and education. It proves difficult to define and systematize, because the Holy Spirit above all, is the instructor of the student's soul. Thus, the most important education does not occur in the classroom. Instead, the primary locus and manner in which one can delve into religious studies, is within the context of an active life in the Church, an everyday spiritual practice, the reading of Scriptures and a consistent practice of the Gospel message..."

 

Language Arts

Parents should at least be aware of what philosophy their children are being subjected to, especially if it is contrary to their own convictions and beliefs. If the purpose of education is not set in stone, even in the public sector, then it is important for a Christian parent to desire Christian goals for their child’s education. All parents should ask the following question: what are the goals presented to my child as the end result of their education? The answer to this question and the measures that a parent must take in order to act on the answer is a vital topic in the formation of children, and will be addressed from an Orthodox Christian perspective throughout the entirety of this curriculum.

 

Music Studies

A musical education refines the soul and prepares it for the reception of spiritual impressions.  Musical participation and appreciation awakens the child’s soul to beauty and a striving towards perfection. A child who develops a love for beautiful music early on will not be as easily tempted by popular and base music later in their life.

Music not only cultivates an appreciation for beauty but also teaches children valuable lessons for life. Participating in a choral or instrumental ensemble provides students with the opportunity to re-create a masterpiece with their fellow classmates and join them in expressing something high, lofty, and beautiful. They learn about teamwork, attentiveness, the dependency of parts within a group, organization, attention to detail, the importance of even the most humble position, problem solving, the necessity of obedience, and the value of leadership. At St. Herman’s we cultivate an appreciation and love for classical music in a variety of ways.

Kindermusic

 The Kindermusic website says:

“There is no longer any doubt that there is a significant link between early music instruction and cognitive growth in certain other, “non-musical” abilities, such as math, memory, and spatial-temporal reasoning. In fact, studies focused specifically on music for young children even suggest that these cognitive gains increase according to the number of years that students engage in active music learning, and even that the younger children are when they begin, the greater the gains will be!”

In Children’s Garden, students have weekly sessions developing their audio skills, exposing them to basic rhythmic elements, and cultivating an enjoyment of music that continues for the rest of their life.

Saint Herman’s School Choir

 All students in Class II and Middle School participate in the school choir. The school choir rehearses weekly and performs a minimum of two concerts each academic year. Through St. Herman’s choral program, students have learned many famous Classical works as well as folk songs from countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Romania, England, Norway, and America. Additionally, students learn about breathing techniques, posture, and diction in their weekly rehearsals.

Instrumental Music Program

St. Herman’s offers additional after-school instrumental classes. These classes are offered in the form of group and individual instruction. Instruments that are or have been offered are: classical guitar, piano, recorder, and violin. Students with a musical talent and interest enjoy the extra supplement to their studies and are able to develop a camaraderie amongst classmates who share their interests. These classes also teach music theory and ear training allowing students to advance as much as their ability and dedication allows.

 

Nature Studies and Science

"The study of the created order has commonly been seen as a manifestation of the study of the Creator. While various arguments exist regarding the studies of science and theology and how they are to relate, St. Herman's does not see a conflict between the two disciplines. Rather, it is clear that both are intimately connected, science serving to enrich ones knowledge of God, His creation and how we can be better stewards of it. Students at St. Herman's, from Children's Garden to Middle School, learn about God's Creation, beginning in simple terms, and becoming increasingly more complex and theoretical. In later years, students are taught the elements of experimentation, the history of various disciplines within the scientific world, as well as prominent scientists and inventors. Finally, they are introduced to the studies of chemistry, biology, physics and astronomy on a much more complex level. They are also encouraged, throughout their education, to be aware of their affect on the environment and the world around them, using the lens of science to gauge their activity.

It must be noted that the study of nature is not equivalent to that of science. Nature study is evidenced through theology, poetry, art, and general observation. Science comes with a specific approach and method..."

 

Social Sciences

a. History

History has meaning--it speaks to those who can see it retrospectively and teaches us lessons, so that we might not repeat any past mistakes. Because history is not an accidental convergence of peoples, places, ideas and events, because it bears the sacred imprint of the Incarnate Christ, it must be studied with humility and fervor. Students at St. Herman's School are encouraged to fight against the temptation to become an amnesiac Christian. The urgency to know our own roots is evident in our curriculum. Students are taught, in great detail and depth, the Orthodox Christian historio-graphical approach, as well as the stories, events and prominent figures that have literally "made history." This by no means excludes the rigor and complexity that comes with any high level education, yet the true "maker of History," the One who humbled himself to the very lowest degree, is placed at the height of our instruction, and illumines and sanctifies the rest of the human narrative.           

b. Geography

There is a unique quality to location even in regard to water, weather, natural resources and how men use them. The physio-geographical qualities have their own characteristics even as they relate to different worlds. In the attempt to break the bond of the idea that space and time have no impact or relevancy on events and humanity, St. Herman's discusses geography as a dynamic study of God's work within space and time. In the medieval world, for example, the center of the map was Jerusalem. This notion of the world placed an ontological value and quality on various locales as they related to humanity and Christian truths. The importance of orienting the students toward an understanding of sacred space, as well as sacred time, is an integral part of the St. Herman's School curriculum, and at the foundation of the study of geography at the school. The geography curriculum is taken almost entirely from a program called Mapping the World By Heart. This program is designed to assess the students' knowledge of the geography of the world, and work with them to develop a comprehensive knowledge of the geography of the entire world. They are expected to draw an in-depth map of the world, from memory by the end of the course.

 

Mathematics

Math is as much about quality as quantity. St. Herman's strives to show the students how numbers, equations and shapes contain meaning and quality, and relate to the study of philosophy and theology. This broad understanding of the discipline opens the students' eyes to the vast realm of the created order and natural patterns found within the cosmos.

At St. Herman's, a student begins formal mathematics in first grade using Saxon Math, an incremental approach in which core knowledge is repeated for emphasis and mastery. In the earlier grades, Calculadder, a math agility program, builds speed and accuracy in basic computation. By graduation from Middle School, a student will have had at least an introduction if not a full year of Algebra. These texts exercise the student in the practical side of math, while the instructor continues to bring out the history of mathematical ideas, the meaning of these discoveries and the overall beauty of math...

 

Geometry

Geometry was the first system of ideas to be developed in which a few simple statements were assumed and then used to derive a rich and attractive array of results. Such a system is called deductive. The beauty of geometry as a deductive system has inspired writers in other fields to organize their ideas in the same way. Sir Isaac Newton's  'Principia', in which he tried to present physics as a deductive system, and the philosopher Spinoza's 'Ethics' are especially noteworthy examples. 

 At Saint Herman School we will try to teach the students to reason deductively through geometry proofs. Using postulates and definitions we are going to prove theorems, from simple to more complex ones. Then, we are going to prove new theorems using the ones already proved.

 We will start with plane (euclidian) geometry, continue with solid geometry in three dimensions, non-euclidian geometries and finishing with coordinate geometry (we are using Harold R. Jacobs' Geometry Book - Second Edition).

 

Foreign and Classical Languages

a. Latin - At St. Herman School, we believe that the children's comprehension of English grammar is greatly enhanced by the study of Latin grammar beginning at a very young age. Knowing the Latin roots of words greatly reinforces English vocabulary since over 75% of English derives from Greek or Latin.

b. Greek - Students in the Middle School learn New Testament (Koine) Greek in order to enhance their knowledge of the Bible, as well as expanding their general knowledge of languages and the skills that this knowledge provides.

c. English as a Second Language - St. Herman's makes a special effort to accommodate foreign students who consider English their second language. Thus, all foreign students enrolled at St. Herman's School begin their studies by experiencing an immersion language program. This includes hearing English from teachers and classmates, as well as learning the language from the prominent computer language program, Rosetta Stone

 

Art

a. Watercolor - Fine Arts for the younger grades consist of Water Color for the Elementary Grades through a course developed by the Children's Education Resource Library, Inc, (Indianapolis, IN) and adapted by St. Herman's School. Following the natural and liturgical seasons of the school year, the children take part in the simple joy of painting in primary color, objects that are both identifiable to them and others, and are easily mastered for their age level. 

b. Drawing - The upper classes (Fourth-Sixth Grade) are introduced to the art of drawing. Students learn the basics of academic drawing with pencil and paper in the classical/European method (i.e. how to think about the object they observe with their eyes). They see an object and learn to break it down and reproduce it with as much skill as they possess at their stage of their development.

 

Enrichment Courses

a. Drama - At St. Herman's, our students not only read classical literature and memorize poetry, but they act this literature out. In portraying roles from their favorite stories, students vicariously acquire the virtue of heroes and learn to shun the vices of villains.

b. Artist-in-Residence Program - At St. Herman's School, many friends of the school, who are themselves endowed with creative gifts and use them either on a professional or amateur level offer, come to offer classes and help pass on the artistic flame to the next generation of potential artists.  Over the years, we have been blessed with master artists who have volunteered their skills and gifts to our student apprentices in various media.

c. Handcrafts (taught seasonally) - Through handcrafts children experience lessons in patience, humility, perseverance, and teamwork.  The skills and lessons learned become a memorable and formative step in their educational experience at St. Herman's. We believe that the children's discovery of their capabilities not only lead to a sense of satisfaction, but also an appreciation, confidence and contentment with what they have and what they are able to make with their own hands. We hope to lead them away from the general tide of consumerism. Christians, we teach, should be producers, not consumers.

 

Creative Writing

In Creative Writing Class, the instructor offers an exercise to stimulate the students' imaginations and they are given a fixed amount of time to write. Any student who wishes may then read what has been written to the others, who comment only on that which they appreciate about the writing. This both encourages the writer and teaches the listener to learn what makes a piece of writing vital and alive...

 

Physical Education

At St. Herman School we recognize that many of our students are already involved in extra-curricular sports activities through town and club teams. Our goal, therefore, in our physical education program is not to provide the students with their primary outlet for physical exercise, but to supplement their normal sporting activities, and to teach our students who are not involved with sport teams how to maintain a consistent and healthy exercise regimen on their own, in the context of their own home, and with very little added equipment and training...

 

Field Trips

Every year, St. Herman School embarks on a variety of exciting day trips. Because of our prime location in an urban context we have access, via public transportation, to a plethora of historic and enjoyable locations throughout the city of Boston. The students will also experience the Greater Boston area in many day trips taken to area towns. Below is an example list of some of our past field trips:

·Boston Museum of Fine Arts

·Discovery Museum

·Peabody-Essex Museum, Salem, M.A.

·Trailside Museum

·New England Flower Show

·New England Aquarium

·Boston Theatre District (Ballets, Musicals, Opera)

·Boston Symphony Orchestra

·Arnold Arboretum

·Drumlin Farms

·Codman Farms

·Tougas Farms Apple Orchard

·Allandale Vegetable Farm

·Plimoth Plantation

·Walking Tour of Longfellow's Cambridge, M.A.

·Louisa May Alcott House (Concord, MA)

·USS Constitution ship and Bunker Memorial

·Mystic Seaport, CT

·Boston Freedom Trail