After the wave of inspiration and connection arising from the ‘Renewal’ conference a group of us in Queensland were fortunate enough to meetup on Monday, 11th April. This was the first of hopefully many face-to-face meetups that will serve the Classical Education community in South East Queensland.
At the beginning of the 2022, I found myself, after a few years of solo exploration feeling isolated and frustrated. I had caught the bug of CE and talked to anyone who would listen, and even some who tried not to, about its potential to renew and heal our education and culture. These feelings were soundly resolved after the meetup, finally I had connected with people who got it. I know many others felt the same. In attendance we had a fantastic mix of educators actively involved in CE in Queensland. It became clear that there are many projects well underway and more strength in the movement than any of us realised, which was a great source of encouragement for us all.
Speakers included Diff Crowther and Nathan Gilmour from Toowoomba who shared their journey of liberal arts curriculum implementation at Toowoomba Christian College (P-12) over the past 5-6 years, Bruce McNeice and colleagues from Charlotte Mason College north of Brisbane, who shared their long and fascinating journey developing from a homeschool support organisation into an innovative model of on-campus/Distance Education school. Chris McCumstie shared the journey of St. Philomena’s Catholic P-12 in Brisbane’s south. We also heard from Fr. Stephen David who is working through accreditation for an Orthodox startup school in 2024 and Cheree Harvey and Amanda Joske who facilitate Classical Conversations a homeschool program on the Gold Coast. We also welcomed Miriam Makowiecki a Latin teacher (Campion College) from Ipswich who shared about a pilot program she was running for Latina Lingua out of the University of Dallas.
From this eclectic mix emerged some common themes. Firstly, all had been captured by the classical education vision and were passionate to see it realised in Australia and secondly, we are all re-educating ourselves 'on the job'. I was reminded of an image from Dante's Divine Comedy, that I am currently reading. He references his guide Virgil, the virtuous pagan, who, although providing a light ahead on the path to the Divine, does not have the benefit of the lighted path himself. He steps out into darkness to light the way ahead. Whilst I don't dare to compare us the great pagan poet, the image was recalled to my mind repeatedly over the past week, throughout the conference and our meetup. We are leading the way along a seemingly unlit path. But perhaps, we are not quite as in the dark as the virtuous pagan poet, we do have the Lord leading us (albeit with breadcrumbs at times!); and many ‘breadcrumbs’ were dropped for us to follow into this new season.
Much discussion focussed on navigating the Australian curriculum and many shared about their various workarounds to date. Work arounds are a vital temporary solution; however it became clear that the Australian Curriculum will present ongoing barriers to us in the future. A general consensus that a key goal, to have Classical Education recognised by ACARA as an alternate curriculum framework, would be necessary in order for Classical schools/homeschools to embody their true nature and purpose. A second important goal was continuing to build a community and we look forward to the ongoing work of ACES in supporting this. A few other important matters were raised such as curriculum access and development for the Australian context, public awareness, and education and training but I will leave this discussion for now. For now, I want to acknowledge how in a few short months, we have made much progress building new relationships which will in time produce much fruit.
Many blessing from the north,
Sarah Flynn-O’Dea (Logos Australis)