February 2007 Issue
The classical teachings of Latin and Greek have long been missing from most school curriculums. But at The Lyceum, an independent Catholic school for students in grades seven through 12, the traditions of revered ancient thinkers â€“â€“ Socrates included â€“â€“ are very much alive.
Founded by Mark Langley four years ago in Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood, the school uses original texts to challenge its 33 students to seek out life's truths while ultimately becoming better thinkers.
"Our school focuses on original sources - books, not textbooks," says Langley, a former teacher at the Lancaster, Massachusetts, Trivium School, upon which The Lyceum curriculum is based.
While studying geometry, students read Euclid's Elements. While exploring insects, they read Jean Henri Fabre's The Insect World.
"Students face the greatest thinkers who ever lived and read their works with their own eyes," says Langley. "We think that there's been a timeless tradition of teaching students how to think for themselves that's been largely abandoned by academia. Our school represents a continuation of [that] classic tradition."
But students don't simply read at this modern-day Parthenon on Murray Hill. As part of the regular curriculum, they're also required to participate in Socratic discussions, art and choir programs, and two drama productions - a Greek tragedy and a Shakespearean comedy - each year.
"The fine arts, drama and choir programs are an incredibly unique aspect," says Dennis Rowinski, whose son Dean, 17, has attended the school since its beginning. "I'm very pleased with the school [and its] traditional presentation of the classical education."