In this Classical Christian Education Corner, we are taking a brief break from our series on the three “R’s” of education (Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic) to talk a bit about our Virtue of the Quarter program and our Home Connection (a.k.a. We Need YOU!). We began our virtue education program a few years ago as a way to be more intentional in forming the minds and hearts of our students (and ourselves). As Aristotle observed, virtue is not an isolated action, but a habit, a repetition of certain ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. So, how can we develop habits of virtue?
Our Virtue of the Quarter begins by employing examples from Scripture, history, and literature. When training the mind and heart to love God and others, we think it essential to capture the imagination. Alternative views of the good life abound, and they can be very attractive. Secular culture bombards us with images and ideals that crowd our imaginations, engage or dull our minds, and draw our hearts. The Christian vision of virtue should outshine them all. As French writer and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery observed, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” While education needs rules and assignments (and ship building needs people to collect wood and perform assigned tasks), it needs more. Virtue education at Trinitas is designed to inspire the minds and motivate the hearts of our students.
The examples chosen from Scripture and history and literature are intended to prompt a desire for imitation. Imitation may have received a bad rap in a culture that prizes individuality and originality, but we are, in fact, wired for imitation. We are constantly imitating others–our family members, friends, teachers, coaches, mentors, role-models, and heroes. If our models are good, it should be no insult for someone to say we resemble them. We want each student’s response to stories of persons of virtue to be, “I want to be like that!” And imitation is at the heart of the Christian life, for it should be the desire and effort of every Christian to become more like our Lord. It is our hope that virtue education at Trinitas helps each of us in this quest.
Throughout the quarter, we use morning prayer and chapel, classroom discussions and activities, backpacking and Friendship Days with Altus Adventures, guest speakers and extra-curriculars to help cultivate shared experiences and shared values, which make up a shared “language” surrounding the virtue. But we also need YOU! The more a student is surrounded with discussions and examples and activities of compassion, diligence, responsibility, and gratitude (our virtues for this year), the more likely he or she is to be compassionate, diligent, responsible, and grateful.
Home Connection pages for the virtue of Responsibility went home with your student this week. They are designed to provide material and ideas for the entire quarter. We have added a recommended books list of stories you can share with your child. We have also supplied more Scripture references for reading, discussing, and praying together. We hope you will reserve a regular time daily to read stories and Scripture together. You’ll also find discussion questions about the virtue of Responsibility for the dinner table, car ride, bedtime, or walks. Since film can have a significant impact on our minds and hearts (for good or ill), we have included a list of good movies to watch and talk about together. We have also once again included our “Habits of the Heart” section with ideas for putting this quarter’s virtue into practice in your homes. We hope that you will use these materials and join us in creating shared experiences, values, and language that help grow habits of responsibility in us all.