The Templeton Honors College Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) offers a distinctively classical approach to training teachers, which takes formation in virtue as the central task of education. To this end, the program charts a course between the exclusive focus of most education programs on method and technique and the exclusive focus of most liberal arts programs on content alone. Through study of the Great Books in Socratic seminars, students will approach foundational questions about education by integrating considerations of history, philosophy, and pedagogy. This approach encourages teachers to explore timeless questions and develop the practical arts of teaching in the light of both the great teachers and great books of Western Civilization, with the ultimate goal of forming virtuous students and teachers.
- Comprehensive integration of philosophy, history, and pedagogy throughout the MAT curriculum.
- Rigorous discussion, deep inquiry, and personal reflection emphasized over quantity of content.
- Education centered on personal formation in community through a “cohort model” built around two five-week summer residencies in suburban Philadelphia.
- Mentoring by Templeton Honors College professors and experienced teachers in your subject area.
- Observation of master teachers in classical schools.
- Teaching Apprenticeship in the Templeton high school Summer Scholars Program.
- Professional development workshops in your discipline throughout the academic year.
- Guided field trips to Philadelphia institutions of art, science, history, music, and theater.
- Optional cultural trips to New York City and Washington, D.C.
Education involves more than merely accumulating information. It aims at forming intellectual virtue, cultivating a love for learning, nurturing a moral life of wisdom, and preparing people to serve the common good. In short, education frees us to seek the true, do the good, and make the beautiful. In order to lead students toward these ends, master teachers must pursue them in their own lives and callings. Therefore, the first duty of teachers is to be the kinds of persons they hope their students become. They should be master learners capable of inviting, inspiring, and apprenticing others into the way of learning.
To do this, master teachers must recognize that learning begins in wonder. Humans are born with an innate desire to satisfy their intellectual appetites. This is one of the many ways we participate in the world, entering it with our minds as well as our hands and eyes. Wonder refers to the basic human experience of being astonished or puzzled by something and wanting to discover what it is and why it is the way it is. Though wonder comes to us naturally, it can become dulled, and so must be cultivated and practiced by both teachers and students.
Learning builds on wonder with the art of asking meaningful questions. Students can be helped to discover the depths of the objects that prompted their joy and puzzlement by learning how to ask questions about their meaning. We best learn how to ask these questions by participating in humanity’s great debates about truth, beauty, justice, and goodness. Engaging this conversation with patience and fortitude also helps us resist the temptations to settle for easy, self-gratifying answers, or, even worse, to stop asking meaningful questions altogether.
These questions are often neglected by an ‘industrial’ or instrumentalist model of education that primarily views learning as a means for acquiring marketable skills for gainful employment because it views human persons as producers and consumers. All models of education begin with a conception of human nature. Dissatisfaction with the implicit conception of human nature present in the industrial model has driven the (re)turn to ‘classical education’. The classical model begins not with questions of how to produce the most skilled workers, but with questions of what constitutes human flourishing, what inhibits it, and how education can foster it.
The conception of human nature that drives these questions and animates the MAT program affirms that humanity has a natural telos and that every person is inestimably unique and precious. This telos includes pursuing truth, beauty, justice, and goodness in integrated, holistic ways. In sum, the program aims to help MAT students become master learners and master teachers so that in turn they can help their students practice wonder, ask meaningful questions, cultivate intellectual and moral virtue, and pursue a flourishing life in whatever place and vocation lay before them.