Expanding the Horizons of the Dead Philosophers Society of Holy Cross Collegiate – StrathmoreNow.com


For 12 years, Holy Cross Collegiate religion teacher Tomas Rochford served as head of the Dead Philosophers Society. This extracurricular class invites students to participate in readings from some of history’s greatest minds, ranging from Greek classics like Plato and Socrates to Jane Austen and her eminent heroines. Drawing inspiration from Robin Williams’ film Dead Poets Society, Rochford explained that HCC’s Dead Philosophers Society seeks to engage students in all that the past has to offer.

“They intellectually engage in this kind of timeless conversation with the great minds of human history and civilization. Whether it’s Jane Austen or Socrates, Aristotle or Confucius of China. I think true education requires that we be able to be part of this conversation, don’t think that because we’re living in 2022, no one in the past has anything to offer us. I think it’s really important that we have this conversation and that students have the opportunity to be a part of that as well,” Rochford said.

“They (great thinkers) are able to capture our experience better and express it in better words than I could express myself. And I think that’s an important thing. Like ‘I’m part of that. story.'”

Rochford added that he believed one of the most important aspects of society was the style of upbringing. Rather than focusing on memorization and testing, the society is about creating mental habits and shaping student thought patterns so they emerge with a deeper appreciation for life. Rochford is especially happy to see some of his students taking the lessons they’ve learned outside of the classroom.

“Who we read shapes us. Last year I think was a good example. Kieran Donais was the valedictorian of our school and in his valedictorian speech. Lots of dead philosopher stuff we had cutlery came out and it had become a part of him, which I think is ideal.”

Although the goal of society is not to get a job or pass tests, Rochford said that by reading these excellent texts, you open yourself up to improvement by expanding your ways of thinking, becoming a better writer by reading great works and in some cases you can go on to study philosophy or English literature at university.

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