Teaching is hard work. It always has been, and in many ways, it’s only gotten harder. I taught Latin (and occasionally Greek) in classical schools for about 10 years. I was also a PE teacher, quiz bowl coach, lunchroom monitor and club sponsor. I understand that it’s more than a job—it’s a calling.
Classical education, whether in a private Christian school or a public charter school setting, emphasizes the cultivation of the whole child—mind, heart, and soul. This undertaking measures its success not by test scores (though classically educated students tend to do very well by standardized measures), but by the thriving lives led by graduates.
Education, until relatively recently, has always been about the formation of the whole child. I was homeschooled in the 1980s and 90s and was given the gift of learning by reading extensively, going on field trips, and even “job shadowing” my father as he repaired A/C units in muggy central Florida. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, and they didn’t attend college. But they were (and are!) intelligent, well-read, and hyper-focused on ensuring that their kids had the best foundation possible.
In the ‘90s I was able to start taking logic classes at a local classical homeschool co-op. I was surrounded by mentors who encouraged me to read the classics by giving me books and then asking me questions about what I read. I knew that I wanted to learn Latin because all the authors I really liked seemed to know it.
After studying Latin and Greek in college and graduate school, I felt strongly that I wanted as many students as possible to have direct access to the treasures in classical literature. Classical schools typically require students to take some Latin before graduation. But I quickly learned that while I loved Latin, my middle and high school students might not be as excited about taking it as I was about teaching it.
As a young teacher, I was still on a learning journey. Over time, I began to internalize that the project of classical education was more than just learning declensions and conjugations. It was an effort by a whole community—parents, teachers, administrators—to orient children towards the north stars of truth, goodness, and beauty.
The same calling that I felt when I became a teacher—to help as many students as possible to unlock the joy of learning—led me to educational philanthropy and then public policy. I felt called to expand options for families who, like my own, may not be able to afford private tuition but who were nevertheless determined to give their children a strong foundation.
In states where parents are more empowered to make educational decisions for their children, classical education is experiencing its greatest growth. This is no coincidence. It is, as economists might put it, a “revealed preference.” The growth of classical education is also creating opportunities for more teachers to carry out their calling to help children pursue the good, true, and beautiful. In short, more choices for families means more choices for teachers.
Teaching will never be easy. It requires a commitment of the heart. However, it is easier when the whole education community shares that commitment. Classical education’s emphasis on truth, beauty, and goodness inspires teachers and students alike to look beyond the superficial, serve others, and keep their eyes on the permanent things.