A second featre is the concept of the humanities that formed the central disciplines studied in a Jesuit college. The word humanitas translated the Greek word paideia, which had come to mean both the process and the studies that developed moral goodness, devotion to truth, and a disposition to act for the civic good: languages, poetry, history, rhetoric and logic, along with mathematics, the sciences, and philosophy of nature. For the humanists these were the subjects that opened the mind, sharpened wits, deepened human sympathy, developed clarity of thought and force in expressing it. They gave students an adroitness of mind in meeting new questions, a foundation from which to explore the more important questions they would come to later in their studies.
That was very interesting. I hadn't known that "humanitas" was a translation of "paideia". The passage reminds me of David Hicks' argument for an integrated curriculum with history as the integrating force.
This Catholic University as Promise and Project (I can't necessarily vouch for the whole book; unfortunately, Jesuit sources vary in orthodoxy nowadays, but I have no reason to doubt the factual information) it says that "humane letters" (history and literature and language) were to be taught from approximately age 10 to 13; arts and natural sciences ("art" meant philosophy) from 14 to 16; and theology (I presume this means systematic theology, not elementary catechesis) from ages 17 to 21, or 23 if the student was to take the doctorate. This source says that the actual ages were often somewhat older, because their background circumstances often differed.
The Ignatian curriculum was based on mastery, so you didn't go on to the next stage until you had become proficient in the last one. But since the stages built upon each other, they weren't like the locked compartments of subjects nowadays. As David Hicks says, history and literature are natural foundations for philosophy, and philosophy (which included logic -- traditional Ignatian education introduced students to philosophy through systematic logic, and this is how my son started his philosophy studies at Thomas Aquinas Colllege) is a natural prerequisite for formal theology.
This post should be subtitled "A Practicum in Reading Sentences with Multiple Parenthetical Interpolations". Sorry about that! LOL.
From the above-linked History of Jesuit Education again:
The third distinctive feature was the integration and order that Ignatius envisioned among the subjects to be studied, leading from lesser to more important ones, culminating in the study of theology. At Paris he had learned that subjects should be studied in an orderly way, languages and humanities preceding the sciences and philosophy. And he was part of that tradition that had for centuries seen theology as the enquiry that was the culmination of the intellectual enterprise and that integrated all the parts of the intellectual life. This principle flowed out of the central theme of his spirituality, that the whole world discloses God at work. All the academic disciplines, therefore, contribute to the intelligibility of the world in their own proper ways and play a key role in making theology intelligible. Theology, focusing on the questions at the center of the mystery of God's self-disclosing activity, completes and integrates the knowledge developed by all the other disciplines of the university.
The reason I am looking this stuff up is that one of my projects for this weekend is to plan my 7th grader's history studies for the next few weeks. He is up to the Renaissance right now. It is close to impossible to study the Renaissance without finding oneself integrating. The age itself manifested as an integrative endeavour, and indeed, of course, Ignatius was a Renaissance man. I have been thinking in terms of seedbeds recently -- how John Senior and those he influenced recommended an analogous composting and soaking in literature and real life before undertaking further studies. Even the grotesqueries of some of the folk tales and indeed of narrative history evoke that:
this is wondrous strange!
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.