The Four Cycles: A Uniquely Beneficial Approach to the Humanities

The St. Ambrose Academy Senior High curriculum leads students through progressive skills from ninth through twelfth grade; however, content is handled a little differently. The curriculum proceeds through four cycles, each centered around a specific era in history.

Cycle I: Ancient

Cycle II: Medieval/Renaissance

Cycle III: American/Civics

Cycle IV: Enlightenment/Modern

The humanities classes for each cycle are integrated so that students are able to integrate their learning within each discipline and study each period of history from the perspective of each method. Rather than receiving information in random and unconnected pieces, they enter into a conversation that has been taking place for millennia.

Integration of the curriculum provides an amazing opportunity for students. While studying Marx in History IV, they are reading Rerum novarum in Religion IV. While studying the civil rights movement in History III they are reading To Kill a Mockingbird in English III. Each year the students are united in a common educational experience across the curriculum. Even the Art teacher, or the science teachers, or the music teachers keep track of what Cycle the students are in to capitalize on this shared focus of inquiry.

In order to foster greater collaboration among faculty and students, each year there are only two cycles being covered. Freshmen and Sophomores will be in either Cycle I or II, and Juniors and Seniors in either Cycle III or IV. Some students, who enter 9th grade during a Cycle I year, will proceed through the history sequentially. Others, who enter during a Cycle II year, proceed from II to I and then IV to III.

Each path offers its own unique journey of discovery, but both give students an organized understanding of human history, salvation history, and the history of the Church.