Three of our science teachers recently attended the 2021 National Classical Education Symposium which focused on “Teaching the Scientific Project” and examined science’s rich discoveries, current developments, and ongoing questions. In previous Head of School updates, I summarized the inspiration and insight gained from the 2019 Symposium on Literature and the 2020 Symposium on History. So, I’m taking this opportunity to describe our science program at JH Classical Academy.
Classical educators treat science not as a tool for utilitarian ends, but as natural philosophy grounded in wonder and directed towards wisdom. Before asking what science can do, students learn what it is and by so doing learn to delight in the wonders of the world around them and innately ask why. Classical teachers also inculcate students with an understanding of the limits of science and its interdependence on other disciplines.
Science is fundamentally the study of nature and the truth found in nature. We believe that a good and knowable God created nature, and that nature reflects His order and goodness. Like the founders of modern science, we find harmony between physical and metaphysical explanations of the world. In the words of JH Classical science teacher Kirby Feaver, “the great scientists have all been great wonderers. 'I wonder what would happen if...' Science encourages wonder in the world around us, and faith encourages the direction of that wonder towards the Creator and His great work in the human heart.”
We do not believe that there is an inherent inconsistency between the methods of science and faith. While science and faith inform each other, scientific theory should not be forced onto faith, or faith onto scientific theory. Both science and faith are different lenses through which to view truth. They speak to one another and they overlap with one another, but as distinct ways of viewing the world, they each answer different questions about the world. Both are necessary for a complete understanding of the world in which we and our students live. For just this reason, four of the seven liberal arts of classical education are based on mathematics and science.
Francis Collins, the longest-serving director of the National Institute of Health shared, “It makes me sad that we have slipped into a polarized stance between science and religion that implies that a thinking human being could not believe in the value of both. I find it completely comfortable to be both a rigorous scientist, who demands to see the data before accepting anybody’s conclusions about the natural world, and also a believer whose life is profoundly influenced by the relationship I have with God.” In 2020, Collins was awarded the world’s top honor in faith and science, the Templeton Prize.
Science begins with careful observation and classification. Therefore, the elementary grades learn to observe and appreciate science through nature study. As they mature in their critical thinking during middle school, students learn the scientific method. They are taught to think and speak scientifically and conduct lab experiments. In high school, students learn more advanced scientific techniques, knowledge, and judgment necessary to scientific inquiry. They begin to realize the limits of the scientific method and explore how philosophy and faith can inform the responsible application of scientific advances in fields such as bioethics, robotics, and genetic engineering. To quote Ms. Feaver again, science and mathematics teach us how the world works, while religion, philosophy, and the humanities teach us how to be human.
Scientific understanding and literacy are essential parts of a good education, and we are committed to providing a solid foundation in the sciences for our students.
Nondiscrimination Policy: Jackson Hole Classical Academy admits students of any gender, race, color, and national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students. Jackson Hole Classical Academy does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, tuition assistance, athletic, arts or other school administrated programs.