Letters, History, and Literature
At the heart of our program is the secondary school’s 2 hour Humane Letters course. Often called a “Great Books Program”, this six year series between the 7th and 12th grade is supported by the grammar school’s in-depth study of history and literature.
In the grammar school, we prepare students well:
- Students begin reading great children’s literature in 2nd grade
- Our history track includes an in-depth immersion in ancient cultures
- In 2nd grade, we study the ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures.
- In 3rd grade, we study the Greeks and Romans.
- In 4th grade, we study Medieval Europe.
- In 5th grade, we study Renaissance art, music, and history.
- In 6th grade, we study American history.
- The literature in each year follows our historical track where possible.
- You can find details on the books we read in Curriculum Highlights.
In the secondary school we build an impressive literary impression:
- In grades 7-12, the Letters course integrates history, literature, art, philosophy, and theology into two hours– one as a lecture, the other in small-group seminars. Students enjoy these classes because we ask them to think, not simply repeat what we tell them. We ask them questions that provoke moral answers– answers that they have to contemplate using connections to other literature and scripture. Students grow to appreciate the ideas contained in great literary and historical works.
- Our program is almost entirely based on original primary sources (see below), not history texts or worksheets. By approaching the great books in search of the ideas, students develop an appreciation for these challenging works. Our approach helps students in their search for truth answer key questions about life, purpose, and how we are to live. This approach resonates with this age-groups growing desire to change the world for the better.
This is an example of our readings during high school:
- Freshman: Gulliver’s Travels; Pilgrim’s Progress; selected writings of Winthrop, Edwards, and other Puritans; Mayflower Compact; Tale of Two Cities; Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin; Pride and Prejudice; The Federalist Papers; The Declaration of Independence; US Constitution; Common Sense; Frankenstein; The Great Gatsby; Watership Down; various readings from Shakespeare.
- Sophomore: The Iliad, Homer; The Aeneid, Virgil; The Republic, Plato; The Enuma Elish; Theogony, Hesiod; Genesis; Exodus; The Epic of Gilgamesh; The Code of Hammurabi; The Histories, Herodotus; Ben Hur; The Peloponnesian War, Thucydides; Oedipus Tyrannus, Sophocles; Antigone, Sophocles; The Early History of Rome, Livy; The Campaigns of Alexander, Arrian; Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle; The Gospel of Luke; The Gospel of John; The Revelation of John; The Meditations, Marcus Aurelius; Confessions, St. Augustine; Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, Plutarch; The Discourses, Epictetus; Metamorphoses, Ovid.
- Junior: 95 Theses, Luther; City of God, Augustine; The Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius; The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer; The Divine Comedy, Dante; The Koran, Mohammed; Paradise Lost, Milton; Beowulf; The Song of Roland; On The Incarnation, Athanasius; The Great Divorce, Lewis; Murder in the Cathedral, TS Elliot; Arthurian Romances, Chretien deTroyes; various readings from Shakespeare.
- Senior: The Pensees, Pascal; Candide, Voltaire; Democracy in America, Tocqueville; Faust; Wealth of Nations, Smith; Goethe; Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky; The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne; Brave New World, Huxley; The Stranger, Camus.
The Ambrose School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, or sex in the administration of its policies, admissions, financial aid, and other school-directed programs.