Welcome to Thankful Tuesday!
I’ve been teaching at my new school for a little over a month now. And, quite aside from all the reasons (financial, familial, existential, personal, career), taking this job was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
I am now in my third year of formally teaching. For my first two years, I taught college freshmen how to write academic and professional prose. Now, in my third year, I get to teach 8th graders about the Roman empire, the Middle Ages, the Resnaissance, the Reformation, Revelation, Beowulf, King Arthur, Shakespeare, Sir Gawain, and so much more.
I used to have to walk students through writing in a vacuum; now I get to walk students through writing and reading and thinking in one of the richest contexts possible: Medieval and Renaissance Europe.
I used to try to help students become proficient and effecient; I wanted them write for the “real world.” Now I want my students to encounter Truth and Beauty and Goodness and be changed; I want them to hear Beowulf’s lament . . .
So riders and ridden
Sleep in the ground; pleasure is gone,
The harp is silent, and hope is forgotten.
. . . and to cry at the passing of life, at the final futility as humans rage against Death.
I used to try to convince my students that Rhetoric and Literature were separate ventures, that persuasion need not be informed by literary excellence. Now I will quite cheerfully drag students kicking and screaming (most of them actually enjoy the journey, but I remain willing nonetheless) through the canon of the Western literary tradition and will insist on Chesterton’s democracy of the dead.
And I could go on and on and on. I could go on about the new beauty I’ve found in a unitary curriculum or the joy there is in pointing out the Spirit of God that animates our hearts and the scriptures and the literature right before us or the nuggets of satisfaction I feel when I have cooperated with colleagues and parents and the curriculum and have even a single student say “ah! I get it! wow!”
I could go on, but I won’t. I will simply leave it at this: for my school, and the parents, colleagues, students, and classical curriculum that make it up, I am incredibly thankful.