The primary focus of Oakwood’s educational philosophy is the development of true freedom.
As you know, the task of a teacher is not simply to impart information or to provide training in skills intended to deliver some economic benefit to society; education is not and must never be considered as purely utilitarian. It is about forming the human person, equipping him or her to live life to the full – in short it is about imparting wisdom.
Pope Benedict XVI. 17 September 2010. Twickenham
The primary focus of Oakwood’s educational philosophy is the development of true freedom that will enable our pupils to live a more complete life, as opposed to the mere attainment of some technical skills or knowledge. This is what is understood by a ‘liberal arts’ education. The root of the word ‘liberal’ is the Latin word liber – meaning free. A liberal arts education increases one’s freedom, understood as the ability to embrace the Good, wherever it is truly recognised. It imparts the freedom necessary to join with the great minds of history, rising above one’s current situation and culture, to appreciate what is deepest in our human condition. Acquiring a liberal arts education is a life-long process. Oakwood strives to form life-long learners who have what the Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman called a ‘habit of mind’ in pursuit of intellectual excellence and the contemplative life. An education at Oakwood involves the acquisition of excellent study habits which together with an enquiring mind form the basis of a life-long love of learning.
A liberal education teaches, among other things, a respect for the proper and responsible use of words, a sincere spirit of enquiry and the recognition and appreciation of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. The fruits of a liberal arts education – a broad understanding of reality, clarity in thought, excellence in writing and effective speaking skills – are of great benefit in higher education and crucially important to many professions, especially in positions of leadership.
The Oakwood curriculum is rooted in a perspective that sees the abundant goodness of the world, of all creation, as a fundamental governing principle; a perspective that sees the nobility and heroism of individuals in struggles throughout history.
This truth naturally leads us to reflect upon all the human riches of our past and the world of today as ways to discover God in the ordinary things, to know and “serve Him in and from the ordinary, secular, and civil activities of human life.” Oakwood will thus refrain from narrowly embracing one ideology, political agenda, philosophical school or approach to the rich drama of human history and thought.