From the Director

Welcome to Scala Foundation!

I started Scala because I believe renewing a transformative, holistic liberal arts education is essential for students and teachers in their personal development and for the common good.

Scala is a movement of students and educators who are committed to the transformational, holistic tradition of liberal arts education.

Professor Margarita Mooney, Scala’s Founder and Executive Director. Learn more about Professor Mooney at her website.

Inspired by a tradition of education open to transcendence, Scala’s programs create an environment that models a view of leisure, beauty, friendship as intrinsic human goods that are best fulfilled in community.

Scala’s programs aim to correct several popular misconceptions in contemporary education. These common misconceptions include:

  • Education is about applying the right methods, not focusing on ends. Methods are important, but the best methods in education are built on a holistic view of the person as a unity of mind, body and soul. Education must be purposeful, not only useful.
  • Education can be entirely based solely on the scientific method. Moral knowledge and poetic knowledge are two other important ways we reach the truth and become independent practical reasoners, including the practical implications of scientific discoveries.
  • Education should form people for certain roles in society. Education must shape the inner dynamism each person has been endowed with by our creator to form moral judgments and seek the truth. Our social nature, while important, can never mean that our social role takes precedence over personal development in education.
  • Education can be achieved entirely through teacher-student interactions in the classroom. Every person has an internal spark which is educated not only in schools, but in families, churches, and the practical life of being a member of a community and nation. The best teachers in the classroom respect the importance of various teachers and mentors students have, including parents and religious educators.
  • Education does not need to based on a tradition or claim any authority. Tradition is not necessarily oppressive to independent thinking. The absence of tradition too quickly can lead to relativism rather than independent practical reasoning. Tradition is a necessary starting point for education. Teachers are a living embodiment of a tradition, from which their authority extends.
  • Education should not be based on a liberal arts model because of the elitism this might imply. There is often false dualism between liberal arts education and vocational education, or between liberal arts education and scientific education, or between a liberal arts education and education that is universal. The only education that is useful is a good education. A liberal arts approach to education is practical because it helps students integrate knowledge across fields to further human flourishing. A liberal arts education is adaptable to many contexts and to students from all backgrounds.

Scala’s programs are grounded in the conviction that human beings are created in the image of God, and that education should help each person discover one’s unique calling.

Some of the key ways Scala spreads the movement include discussing the following ideas that can shape educational programs and by showing examples of exemplary educators who live out these key principles:

  • Education that is rooted in great texts. Education needs to include study of the great texts because they are exemplary works. The core curriculum in K-12 and higher education is never final and can expand to include new works that are also excellent.
  • Education that shows students how to integrate several disciplines. The human mind grows by being exposed to different forms of learning, which includes the scientific method but also literature, music, grammar, rhetoric, and logic. All fields of knowledge ultimately lead to a unified truth.
  • Education that emphasizes an admiration of beauty. Education should encompass the aesthetic dimension of the human person, and develop our capacity for poetic knowledge. The modern tendency to analyze and measure and manipulate everything needs to be balanced by a state of receiving and perceiving reality that opens up to a sacramental way of living—seeing in visible things the invisible grace of God. An openness to transcendence and mystery is necessary to maintain the wonder that gives rise to creativity.
  • Education that enriches lasting friendship. Friendship and hospitality are central to building communities of learners who know how to listen to each other and learn from each other.