Cultivating knowledge and wisdom to transform a generation
Much of Nyansa’s curriculum is based on stories and lessons from the Bible and Greco-Roman classics. These texts are foundational to our society and culture, but young people have had less and less exposure to them as philosophies of education have changed over time. We believe that it is essential to our life together that young people learn from and appreciate these foundational texts while also exploring stories from other diverse cultural traditions. Equally significant are the many ways this literature contributes to building children’s moral imagination and to cultivating their desire to seek wisdom, truth, beauty, and goodness.
Our curricula and programming:
- Cultivate the poetic and moral imaginations
- Deepen delight in the enjoyment of classic literature, language and art
- Tell classic stories using culturally and ethnically diverse images that resonate with young people from a variety of backgrounds
- Encourage students to cultivate truth, goodness and beauty
Nyansa Classical Community is faith-based and Christian, and our curricula reflect this foundation. We believe, however, that all young people, whatever their faith background, gain a great deal from learning about biblical literature and language because they are a core part of the culture, history and discourse of the United States and many other countries. Whether speakers are conversant in the Bible or merely allude to the idea of the “good Samaritan” or “loving one’s neighbor,” they are invoking the Bible as a moral authority. In addition, many of our great writers from Shakespeare to Jane Austen, to William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison invoke biblical references that one is required to know in order to fully appreciate their works. For these reasons, it is important that children from many faith traditions learn to recognize Biblical stories and allusions and consider how they inform our public life today.
Greco-Roman antiquity is ubiquitous in American society: the US Constitution is modeled on Polybius’ description of the Roman government; we speak of people being cynics, stoics, and academics—all Greek concepts; and our buildings evoke classical styles — from the monuments of Washington, DC, to the “Greek revival” architecture that adorns New Orleans. At the same time, the classics have historically been a mark of an elite education, conveying that a person’s learning is more than technical. Nyansa provides an accessible introduction to classic works of antiquity to students from a variety of social and economic backgrounds. Learning this history and literature helps young people to understand how their world has taken its current shape and allows them to more deeply understand the concepts and practices of citizenship, democracy, justice, and the common good.
The humanities and liberal arts nourish youth and delight old age; they embellish good times and offer refuge and consolation in bad ones; they are charming in private without impeding public efforts; they are with us whenever we are up at night, travel, or enjoying leisure.
– Cicero Defense of the Poet Archias
Our curriculum strives to make Greco-Roman antiquity accessible, practical, and liberating for a culturally and ethnically diverse group of students:
Our classics program uses modern, age-appropriate translations of ancient texts to help students develop moral imagination and knowledge of cultural touchstones. We study everything from Homer’s Odyssey to visual artist Romare Bearden’s Black Odyssey, and include study of virtuous historical figures from many regions, including South America, India, Africa, the U.S., and Europe. Our curriculum is designed intentionally with artwork and images that depict characters in a variety of colors and from diverse backgrounds.
Our classics curriculum focuses on myths and iconography that permeate daily life — whether simple awareness that an “odyssey” refers to the wanderings of Odysseus or knowledge that grapes are associated with Bacchus. Our language arts program introduces students to the basics of Latin in a way that bolsters English literacy and supports development of moral imagination. Most recently, we have collaborated with service learners at Tulane University to produce age-appropriate versions of Aesop’s fables that address Nyansa’s curricular objectives.
When students have classic literature as part of the furniture of their minds, it expands their sense of the world and what is possible within it. Black intellectuals such as Fredrick Douglass and Phyllis Wheatley wrote about how being able to read expanded their outlook — how taking literature in took them out of their limited circumstances. Nyansa supports the formation of our students by teaching them great stories on great themes that are central to what it means to be human. This sort of education is especially critical for those who are disadvantaged. Expanding your universe and strengthening your moral grounding are the surest paths to self-determination.
See our “Day in the Life” page to get a better sense of how Nyansa’s Classical Christian curriculum works in action.
Nyansa Classical Community draws on the long tradition of Classical Christian education.
For more information on this course of study, explore the organizations below.
For more information about using our curriculum in your home, after-school initiative, or church program, please fill out the contact form below.
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