Augustine Academy offers a one-year course in the Liberal Arts. The core disciplines, history, literature and philosophy, are studied over the course of the year, alongside additional subjects in grammar, logic and rhetoric.
The core disciplines are integrated in such a way that students study the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations in history, alongside the literature of that period from writers like Homer and Virgil, as well as the classical philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. The course will proceed in this way through to the present day.
Classes are held on Monday and Tuesday each week. There are meals provided for Monday lunch and dinner and Tuesday breakfast and lunch. Staff will be available to pick up students from Douglas Park train station.
History of Antiquity
This unit begins with a study of ancient Greek culture, focussing on their art, religion, politics and warfare. Students will learn why the Greeks had such a lasting influence on Western civilisation. The public and private life of Alexander the Great will explored in first term. By contrasting a number of biographies written in the century after his death, students will see the varying depictions of this monarch’s life and conquests. Students will also study the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. A range of ancient historians will be examined, allowing students to observe the different approaches to history that were common in that period.
Greek and Roman Literature of Antiquity
Students will be introduced to the great mythologies of antiquity. Starting with the earliest Greek poets such as Homer and Hesiod, the course progresses through to Virgil’s recounting of the founding of Rome. The stories of Icarus, Pandora, Myramus and Thisbee, Cupid and Psyche are included in the course. The course explores the nature of mythologies and the transmutation of retold stories over the centuries.
We begin our studies with the rise of philosophy in Ancient Greece and the problem of change and permanence that occupied the earliest philosophers. The word ‘philosophy’ comes from the Greek, meaning ‘love of wisdom’. This meaning was challenged by the Sophists who saw philosophy as a tool to gain power and influence without reference to what is true. Socrates and his student, Plato, and his student, Aristotle, dedicated their lives to defending philosophy as the love of wisdom.
Formal Logic (not for credit)
This subject enables students to understand and critique arguments and better understand the logic sequence necessary for a valid argument. It is one of the foundational ‘trivium’ subjects that equip students with the tools to think clearly and communicate well.
Grammar is another of the foundational ‘trivium’ subjects. It helps to develop skills in academic writing, referencing, researching, essay structure and composition. These essential study skills better equip the students to excel at in the other subjects.
Second term looks at the medieval period, beginning with the Roman occupation of Britain, then the migration of the Angles and Saxons and finally the Norman invasion. Other topics covered include the rise of feudalism, the secular power of the popes of that period, and the influence of the major monarchs of Europe on Christendom.
Beginning with Beowulf, this unit surveys a range of medieval literature. A number of Anglo-Saxon poems are studied before moving on to the Middle English literature of Chaucer and the Arthurian legends. The Christian allegories embedded in literature of this period are studied, as well as the effects that feudalism had upon heroic archetypes.
In the light of the Incarnation, the medieval philosophers were faced with the challenge of harmonising the insights of faith and reason, of revealed truths and the truths of philosophy. St. Augustine, the namesake of Augustine Academy, achieved a synthesis between the best of pagan wisdom and Christian revelation. Other major figures studied include Boethius, Bonaventure and Aquinas, as well as some Islamic and Jewish philosophers.
Rhetoric (not for credit)
Rhetoric is the art of persuasive speaking and communicating well. This subject builds upon the skills learnt in logic and grammar and helps students make persuasive arguments in their essays and oral presentations.
This subject will address the shift of attitudes and ideas from the Middle Ages into the early modern period, with a focus on the birth of humanism and the scientific revolution. Students will learn about the great thinkers of this age and the social and religious tensions that surrounded them. Prominent figures of science such as Galileo, Copernicus, Newton and Bacon will be studied. The causes and ramifications of the Reformation will be explored.
In this unit a number of Shakespeare plays are studied. Cervantes’ famous work Don Quixote provides an insight into the shift of attitudes that occurred in the early modern period. The themes of free will and divine omniscience are explored in John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. The literary theory of Philip Sydney and allegories of Edmund Spenser are also explored during the course.
Students will recognise ideas in the work of the modern philosophers that shape the western worldview today. We study the shift of philosophical attention to the self and the capabilities and limits of his/her knowledge. We look at the narrowing of the meaning of ‘reason’ in the thought of Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Kant, and how this narrowing affects the relationship of faith and reason. We also study the ideas and influence of Nietzsche and Marx.
In third term students have weekly debates on a wide range of topics. They are marked on their ability to utilise the skills learnt in logic and rhetoric as well as their capacity to think critically about the topic.
This subject covers some major trends and events of the 19th and 20th centuries in the Western world: industrialisation, the totalitarian ideologies and regimes, the world wars, multiculturalism. The term concludes with an overview of Australian history.
In the final term of literature we examine some of the most prominent writers of the modern era, including William Wordsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Victor Hugo, Oscar Wilde, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. The course looks at the movement of Romantic poetry, and it explores the themes of eschatology, ethics, sociology and national identity through the viewpoint of the modern authors.
Faith and Reason Today (Philosophy)
Whereas the first three terms focus on major figures in the history of philosophy, this term aims to familiarise students with some contemporary issues. We begin with C.S. Lewis’s book, ‘The Abolition of Man’, which warns of the danger of treating scientific knowledge as the only valid kind of knowledge and rejecting the Natural Law as ‘subjective’. Next we examine the dialogue between modern science and religion through figures like John Polkinghorne, Paul Davies and the great atheist philosopher Antony Flew who changed his mind based on the picture of the world presented by modern science, a picture of a world that is deeply intelligible. As Einstein said, the only incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. We end the year by revisiting the vision of philosophy held by the first philosophers – Socrates, Plato and Aristotle – and we examine what value their understanding of philosophy – as the love of wisdom, not power or utility – has for the dialogue between faith and reason today.
Drama (not for credit)
In fourth term students have weekly drama classes where they practice for the end of year play.