“Learn the true, do the good, love the beautiful”, I recalled seeing that statement as I toured Northwest Ohio Classical Academy (NOCA) last summer. For some reason, those three middle words kept replaying in my mind like lyrics to a song that one can’t quite pinpoint the title. Why were those three words causing such unrest in my mind?
Do the good. Those three words, concise when separate hold so much weight and value when placed together. Sadly, it seems a consequence of all of our modern-day conveniences has us replacing the “good” with the “easy”. “Do what is easy”. To do what is good first takes knowledge, knowing what is good. It takes humility, vulnerability, courage, and most importantly an awareness of one’s own conscience. How on earth is a school in 2022 going to not only educate and discipline but also help cultivate conscientious decision-making skills? I was skeptical, words, though powerful as they might be hold no value without action. So how exactly is NOCA helping children do the good? What sets them apart from modern education?
Both modern and classical education address the “what” when it comes to learning. As in, what children should learn, what subjects, the sequence of lessons, etc. Where they differ is in the “how”. Growing up a teacher would tell the class what to study but never taught us how to study. In order to raise life-long learners the “what” and the “how” need to both be addressed. At NOCA they aren’t just giving a child a fish, they’re teaching children how to fish. They’re teaching students how to study, how to learn, and how to formulate their own opinions through conscientious decision-making skills. And what is the tool they’re using to assist students in developing diligence and taking obligations seriously in order to do the good? The virtues.
Courage, moderation, justice, responsibility, friendship, prudence, and wisdom are not only addressed and identified as virtues to be practiced in the classroom but are also utilized when it comes to disciplinary guidance. Taking the time to properly redirect a child and identify virtues in that redirection is definitely not convenient or easy, it is doing good for the betterment of the child. The purpose is to raise self-modulating life-long learners who can contribute positively to society. In order to do so teachers are not only teaching curricula but also helping to cultivate healthy habits. And with regard to the upper school, or older students, the same holds true with any disciplinary concerns. However, those are few and far between. They don’t have much time for the gossip and drama when they’re cultivating great minds through Socratic seminars on philosophy, literature, etc. As Elenor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people”. Speaking of a great idea… there are only a handful of classical education schools in the US and we’re fortunate enough to have one so close, why not see how NOCA is doing the good firsthand. Open House, January 21st click here for details.