The OLMC Commitment to Lifelong Learning: Teachers and Parents Setting an Example

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Preparing children for lifelong learning is one of the more casually used aspirations heard in educational circles, including Classical education circles. Yet, if recent studies are any indication, it seems clear that increasingly few adults are regularly engaging in anything resembling the kind of learning that we expect to see in our children. One of the other cornerstone principles of Classical education is that you can’t give what you don’t have, and that teachers must be model learners whose examples students follow. It seems fair to suggest that if children are going to develop as lifelong learners, they are going to need teachers who inspire their students to follow their examples.

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Fortunately, at OLMC School, the faculty devote themselves not only to honing their craft as teachers but also gather together as a learning community to deepen their own understanding of perennial questions. That means that they will periodically be found together sitting around a large table, hunched over a text, engaged in lively conversation with one another.

As a faculty, our particular concern for the year has been to understand better the different dimensions of Beauty and the way they manifest themselves in different subject areas. We began our consideration of these questions during Faculty Orientation when we discussed Sir Roger Scruton’s Beauty: A Very Short Introduction, and continued our exploration this month by gathering to discuss Plato’s Phaedrus. Together, as we have attempted to grasp how the study of language, mathematics, and nature reveal Beauty to us in different ways, we’ve considered such questions as: Why is it difficult to identify what makes something beautiful; why do we respond to beauty in different ways that we do, and is there anything common to the experience; what is the place of beauty in art—and how art is different from entertainment; and what do our experiences of temporal beauty have to do with our eternal longings?

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The Phaedrus was a particularly delightful dialogue to read and reflect on together because Plato not only considers these kinds of questions directly related to beauty, he also considers how a teacher employs beauty to awaken and inflame his students’ desire for truth. As a pagan Greek thinker of the 5th century B.C., it was fascinating for us to consider the ways that Plato’s observations seemed to align with Christian ideas—and where they departed.

Naturally, for our faculty, what is good for the learner is good for his students, too. We are all looking forward to applying the insights that we glean from these seminars to our classes throughout the year.

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Of course, at OLMC School, we know that parents are the primary educators of children—in the faith and beyond. Appropriately, this month also saw parents and teachers gather together for the OLMC School Parent and Faculty Reading Group. This month’s subject was Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust. With a title borrowed from T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland,” the reading group grappled together with this acerbic and bitingly funny critique of modern society. It is a challenging book, perhaps as emotionally difficult as it is subtle. For the group, it was helpful to enjoy the benefit of the wisdom and the perspective of the other members in order to get the most out of the encounter with the book.

With both teachers and parents so dedicated to the pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, we have very good reason to be confident that our students will be well served. Their future, and the future of the OLMC School community, is very bright, indeed.

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