Although the administration wasn’t generous enough to provide each of us outgoing seniors a copy of the new Course Catalog, I did obtain a copy from St. X’s website. While some of the new courses being offered seem interesting enough, I’m disappointed by the absence of a couple very worthwhile courses.
First off, I was quite shocked to hear that the default senior religion course, Introduction to Theology, isn’t being offered next year. I’m sure that the course varied widely from teacher to teacher – Mr. Daley’s class focused on the 20th century Church, whereas Mr. Wilkins’ focused on the procrastination of homework. But the elimination of this course highlights a longstanding omission from the school’s Religious Studies curriculum: the History of the Catholic Church.
I realize that, since our school is a Jesuit institution, it’s focused on the study of non-Christian and non-human religious traditions. But since we are a Jesuit institution, we should at least clarify the topics that our grade school teachers tried to water down for us. In IntroTheo class (and more so in Politics & Religion), we discussed the implications of the various documents that came from Rome throughout modern history.
A Catholic History course would extend that to the development of the Church from its very beginnings in Palestine. Why would this course be so important? Because although we all know about some of the corruptions in the medieval Church, we don’t understand the issues completely enough to see the mistakes in our Church today.
I also noticed that Russian, Greek, and Portuguese were all eliminated. I was really impressed when I found out about all the languages being taught at St. X. So were the girls who played against us in Quiz Team awhile back. Oh well.
Another course that was eliminated was Mr. Downie’s European Literature course. I was quite disappointed to see this gone from the new Catalog. Mr. Downie’s course really provided the cornerstone of the English department’s offerings. Without it, students by their graduation will have covered grammar and rhetoric, American literature, British literature, and— what’s missing? Right: world literature.
Mr. Downie did a great job with the course this year. We covered the kinds of things that you’re expected to know in the Real World. Seriously. Take these classics, for example:
- Candide, ou l’Optimisme
- Excerpts from The Brothers Karamazov, Notes from Underground, and various other works from Достое́вский
- “The Overcoat”
- “A Doll’s House”
And we also read some fun novels, such as The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, and an excerpt from the hilarious Cyberiad, by Stanislaw Lem. The course inspired me to read some other great works, such as the humorous “Inspector General.“ I now want to read Dr. Zhivago as well.
It was the kind of class that involved lots of hard work, but made you feel good about taking. Hopefully the new courses will be half as worthwhile.