We now have three children at Cincinnati’s Walnut Hills High School, a storied public school that somehow managed to retain its classical curriculum as Catholic institutions, which invented it, couldn’t run away fast enough from the Latin, great books, and study of the ancients at the curriculum’s core. While that gives our charges a Catholic cast of mind, it doesn’t provide catechesis. For that we’ve tried a variety of courses and methods over the years. This year for the older two (10th and 12th grade), we’re using the YouCat course offered by the Newman Connection, a collaborative project of several successful Newman Centers, including the one serving Nashville’s Vanderbilt University under Fr. John Sims Baker. Consisting of 26 lessons that combine video lectures, discussion questions, and tests, “Exploring YouCat” takes advantage of its online format in a way missing from other courses (many simply present reading materials on the web). Students can interact with their peers and earn points for each completed lesson. In keeping with its virtual approach, we bought a Kindle version of YouCat for them to read on their tablets. Yes, it is designed for college students, but the course, like YouCat itself, is suitable for reasonably intelligent high schoolers. So far, so good at the Leonardi home, as both of our enrollees say they like it and are learning new things — our philosophically oriented 10th grader enjoyed the numerous quotes from Pascal in YouCat’s first chapter. You might check it out.
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