Pencils: Back to School

by Michael Van Hecke, M.Ed.

In a world saturated with electronic sounds and images, is it really a big surprise that learning struggles are on the rise? Granted, there are genuine physiological maladies which result in learning disabilities, but there are multitudes of children (and adults) who suffer learning issues which are not related to diagnosable disabilities. Even many good and bright children struggle in areas where they should shine more naturally. 

Revolution or Renewal

by Michael Van Hecke, M.Ed.

Once again, I heard a speaker paraphrasing Chesterton in reference to his idea about a revolution, particularly, a revolution is always a return, a re-turning to some ideal that was lost. 

The Catholic University of America welcomed the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education this summer as host of the National Catholic Classical Schools Conference. 

This Week in History

The English Peasants Rise, for the Last Time: August 29, 1830

The following text comes from our text, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. For ordering information on this and our other texts, please click here.


King William IV in 1830

When King George IV died on June 26, 1830, his 64-year-old brother, the Duke of Clarence, came to the throne as King William IV. Unlike George IV, William IV began his reign as a popular monarch. Disliking pomp and ceremony, he often walked through the streets of London as an ordinary subject would. He chose not to live in Buckingham Palace and for a time contemplated turning it into a barracks for soldiers. William was also a hard and efficient worker. He was a welcome change from George IV.

In parliamentary elections that took place between July and September 1830, the Tories lost seats to the Whigs. The Tories were still in the majority, but Wellington could not get enough support in the House of Commons and so was forced to step down as prime minister. In his place, the king appointed Charles, Earl Grey, as prime minister. Earl Grey was a Whig and a longtime supporter of parliamentary reform.



This Week in History

The Spanish Driven from New Mexico, August 21, 1680

The following text comes from our high school book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. To see sample chapters of this book, go here. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here. 

Figure of a bishop saint on the altar of San Miguel Chapel, a Spanish-era church, in Santa Fé, New Mexico

Though it had experienced no large-scale rebellion since the Ácoma Pueblo uprising in 1599, all was not peaceful in New Mexico. In 1632, natives attacked Fray Francisco Letrado, a missionary at Hawikuh. They riddled him with arrows as he knelt and, grasping a crucifix, prayed for his enemies. Two years later, Hopi “sorcerers” poisoned another missionary, Fray Francisco Porras, who had been working among their people.

Much progress had been made in New Mexico since 1599. Numerous missions, tens of thousands of converts, an established Spanish settlement at Santa Fé — the colony was flourishing. Though New Mexico still remained a drain on the finances of the Spanish crown, it had begun to carry on a profitable trade with Mexico City. Every two years caravans of about 32 wagons made their way from the capital to Santa Fé, carrying supplies of goods the colony could not produce itself. The arrival of a caravan occasioned rejoicing and fiesta — and all the more so because it was to return to Mexico laden with goods made and sold by the inhabitants of New Mexico. (more…)

This Week in History

Return of Vienna’s Emperor:

August 12, 1848

The following is an excerpt from our text, Light to the Nations II:The Making of the Modern World. It continues our series on the 1848 revolutions in Austria. You may read these posts here, here, here, and hereFor information on ordering this or our other texts, please go here.

Emperor Ferdinand I

The revolutionaries in Vienna cheered when they heard of Radetzky’s victories in Lombardy. Why did they cheer? After all, Radetzky’s enemies should have been their friends. Both the Viennese and Lombard revolutionaries were Liberals. Both battled what they thought was tyranny. Yet the Viennese radicals welcomed the news of Radetzky’s victories. Why?

The answer is simple. The Viennese revolutionaries were Liberals, but they were also nationalists. They cheered Radetzky, for he had led German and Austrian arms in triumph over people of a different nation. The success of Liberal ideals meant less to the Viennese insurgents than their nation’s glory.

Such nationalism could be found as well in the German and Hungarian diets. The German and Magyar Liberals wanted liberty and citizen rights for themselves, but not necessarily for other nationalities. Kossuth fought for Magyars but wanted to keep down the Slav minorities in Hungary. This only alienated the Slavs from the cause of Hungarian independence. The Viennese revolutionaries also alienated the Slavs by cheering the news that in June the imperial Austrian army under Alfred, Prince zu Windischgrätz, had crushed the Czech revolution in Prague.