How to Enchant a Child

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If you were to spend some time in any of our classrooms, one thing that will stand out across the board is the attitude of our students. They are quite evidently eager to know more. Plato and Aristotle both tell us that learning begins with wonder, and it is undeniable that our students hunger with curiosity. It’s quite remarkable, really. Irrespective of grade level or academic subject area, our students demonstrate not only a willingness to follow a lesson, but a determination to embark on a journey of sustained inquiry and investigation.

Now, let’s be clear. We here at OLMC can’t take credit for that —at least not all of it. We believe, again with the wisdom of the ancients, that as a rational being man by nature desires to know. We can’t help but be curious when we encounter the world around us. It is fascinating, and our investigation of it is cause for taking delight in it. Unfortunately, too often the actual experience of school fails to satisfy this natural curiosity. Too many educators mistake the mechanics of education for the act of learning itself, and this can have a devastating impact on a student’s desire to understand. The purely mechanical approach to education stifles the spirit of inquiry and transforms the school from a smorgasbord of intellectual and artistic delights into a sad and unpalatable tray of what only marginally passes for food. Not only does this help to account for why the state of American education is dire, it is an injustice to our children. And there is no need for it—we are the inheritors of an educational legacy that produced all of the magnificence of our Civilization. Truly we have exchanged our birthright for a mess of pottage.

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But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here at OLMC, we embrace our responsibility as teachers to foster and nurture that sense of wonder in our students. It is our mandate. It is what students are made to do; it sustains them throughout their formal education; it prepares them for living their lives as faithful and intellectually alive members of the Church and community; and it translates to better test scores. I’m delighted to report that it is happening here every day.

The secret is no secret. Every good teacher everywhere knows that fostering enchantment with learning is the key to true academic excellence. For us, the pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty is not just a slogan. By reading and learning from the best and most satisfying texts, by holding high-minded conversations about timeless topics, and by expecting nothing less than the best that every child is capable of, we create the conditions for every child to get the most out of school—and to take joy in learning. We do this by introducing students to a world that, upon investigation, reveals itself not to be less than it seems, but infinitely more. Our school-wide commitment is to foster enchantment with reality itself, through every subject area. Ultimately, in this way, our students will come to know themselves better, and to grow in their love for God, who reveals himself through all that he has made for our investigation.

This is our raison d’etre. May we be found ever faithful.

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