As educators our concern is for the flourishing of our students, so we are always looking for ways to improve the program we deliver. We spend a great amount of our resources (time, energy, money) on ways to enhance our educational program. But what gives us the biggest bang for our buck?
In my experience, the greatest investment we can make is in ourselves. Much consideration is put into what shall be taught and in which order but I argue most of our resources should go into answering the question, how is it to be taught? How are we to motivate and inspire wonder and awe in our students? How are we to facilitate a learning environment that allows the student to bring forth their learning? How do we cultivate not only intellectual virtue, but physical and moral virtue as well?
The teacher/student relationship is a unique one. As educators, we are like midwives who facilitate and assist the “birthing” process of learning. It is facilitated by love, and teaching is the greatest act of charity according to Augustine. No phonics curriculum, no math curriculum, no matter how great they are, can give an educator all that she needs to truly educate. She needs to strive for an active intellectual life, pursuing the intellectual virtues as well as the physical and moral virtues that greatly contribute to the flourishing of the human person.
In his article, What is Classical Catholic Education, Jonathan Beeson states “The educator, by her very presence, is the curriculum which is being taught.” He argues that intellectual apathy is combated by our own engagement with and embodiment of the curriculum. And I will take it one step further, it is not just with the curriculum but with the complete program we are trying to deliver, specifically Classical Education.
As educators we should be motivated to deeply understand and connect with the nature and purpose of Classical Education. It should inspire us to desire it for ourselves. In essence, the educator needs to pursue a classical education for herself while she leads her students down that same path. Invest in developing the educator; the resources at our disposal will be most wisely used if they are directed in this manner. This investment will bring about the greatest reward and will payback tenfold in our program, not just this year, but for many years to come.