Dr. Kathleen O’Toole Assistant Provost for K-12 Education Hillsdale College

“The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum was made by professors and teachers—not bureaucrats, not activists, not journalists—teachers.”

Dr. Kathleen O’Toole
Assistant Provost for K-12 Education
Hillsdale College

Dear Teacher,

As you know, teaching is one of the most important professions in human history. As an institution whose purpose it is to teach, we at Hillsdale College are acutely aware of what it takes to teach and to teach well, especially today. We thank you for taking up this charge in general and this curriculum in particular. We hope and trust that it will serve you and your students in the ways that you and they most deserve.

The pursuit of truth is an unapologetic pursuit. For those who strive for honesty, it cannot be otherwise. As such, you the teacher should be aware of the truths which Hillsdale College holds to be accessible to human reason, proven through the ages, and true of all people and all times. This curriculum is based on these truths. They are as follows.

  • That truth is objective, according to the first law of logic, the law of contradiction: that something cannot both be and not be at the same time in the same way. The first object of the human mind and the first end of education is this objective truth about the world.
  • That the good is that at which all actions, however misguided or distorted, aim. The good shows us how we ought to act, which we call right moral conduct.
  • That human nature is good but also limited, flawed, and prone to do what is wrong.
  • That while an individual may conduct himself and form his character to align with what is good over his lifetime, human nature itself does not fundamentally change or progress.
  • That because this is the nature of human beings, and human beings make up government, government will always be capable of tyranny and mismanagement.
  • That individuals should be judged based on their specific actions tending toward a certain character instead of their label, group identity, sex, religion, or skin color.
  • That civic knowledge, personal virtue, patriotism, respect for the rule of law, and civil free speech are absolutely necessary for young students to learn for a free and self-governing society to persevere.
  • That the more important thing in American history is that which has endured rather than that which has passed, that is, America’s founding principles which have outlasted and extinguished from law various forms of evil, such as slavery, racism, and other violations of the equal protection of natural rights.
  • That although the United States of America is by no means perfect, it is unprecedented in the annals of human history for the extraordinary degrees of freedom, peace, and prosperity available to its people and to those who immigrate to her shores.
  • That these unprecedented benefits are the result of its founding ideas and of those who have bravely sacrificed to prove these principles true—the principles that all men are created equal in their human dignity and possession of certain natural rights, that government exists solely to protect these rights and to promote the public good, and that people ought to govern themselves and respect the rights of one another.
  • That for these reasons, America is an exceptionally good country.

With these principles in mind, dive into your subject.

Learn it, wonder at it, love it, and teach so your students will, too.

Dr. Kathleen O’Toole
Assistant Provost for K-12 Education
Hillsdale College

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