Saint John of the Cross Academy (SJCA) facilitates classical tutoring for Catholic families. As a tutorship, the Academy is committed to training its pupils on an individual level, the only level at which real active learning takes place. Modern schools have made such learning impossible as classrooms have turned into lecture halls in which students are not held accountable for their learning but, instead, are made passive observers of lecturing teachers. It is for this reason we the SJCA tutors have avoided the label “school.” Instead, SJCA is called a tutorship--an academy facilitated by tutors.
Unfortunately, the words “tutor” and “tutorship” can be misleading. Given the current usage of term “tutor,” it is no surprise that many interested families have concluded that SJCA tutors do not provide a comprehensive curriculum for its pupils, but only intermittent assistance. The term “tutor” in current linguistic use connotes a part time, remedial teacher, hired at an hourly (often ungodly) rate to assist those students who are struggling in one subject or another. As commonly understood, a tutor is a temporary fix.
This is not the classical meaning of the term “tutor”. In the classical Western tradition, a tutor was responsible for his pupils’ intellectual formation.1 He was not understood as a part time, remedial teacher. C. S. Lewis, one of the last men to be classically tutored, describes the comprehensive formation of his tutor. He was classically formed by his tutor W. T. Kirkpatrick, dubbed “the Great Knock.”2 The Great Knock molded Lewis in the classical tradition as a personal teacher every day for several years. He demanded precision. Ever questioning, coaching, correcting and challenging the boy in his academic exercises, the Great Knock would allow no half-measures. There was no hiding from the Great Knock.
The SJCA classical tutor is responsible for his pupil’s intellectual formation in the Classical subjects of Latin/Composition, Mathematics, History, Science, Literature, and Theology. He is not a remedial, temporary fix for the struggling pupil. On the contrary, he provides the entire curriculum created for each individual pupil, guiding and prodding him at each step of his studies. Like the Great Knock, he allows no half-measures, ensuring that the pupil has mastered each exercise before graduating to the next. Demanding precision and perfection, the tutor is committed to the overall formation of his pupils.
Each SJCA tutor informs parents of their child’s academic strengths, weaknesses, gifts, and interests every week. They should be viewed as instruments in the hands of the parents. The tutors are the tools that parents utilize to train their children in the classical tradition, a tradition sustained and enriched by the Roman Catholic Liturgy and Creed.
To be clear, Saint John of the Cross Academy provides an exhaustive classical curriculum whose tutors function as personal teachers to their pupils at every stage of their academic development. Utilizing the SJCA tutors as instruments of spiritual and academic formation, the parents of the Academy cultivate and preserve the Western, classical tradition of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
Written by Nick Trosclair, Co-founder & Tutor of Saint John of the Cross Academy.
1 The Latin Tutor "watcher, protector, or defender" ; tueor "see, examine, or consider.” A tutor is guardian of tradition.
2 Surprised By Joy page 74-76