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For Teachers and Students

A high schooler's thoughts on classical education and college.

Being 17 years old, one might think that I would not have much to say in favor of education. In fact, I am certain that many people who will read this article assume that I would prefer to spend my time bashing the school system from my social media outlets and blog. However, in writing this article I intend to do just the opposite.

I intend to affirm to every student undergoing classical education, be it through a co-op, private school, or homeschool, that there is a definitive reason for your schooling. I also want to encourage teachers who spend their lives working day and night to ensure that those of us who study under them receive a valuable education.

Since eighth grade, I have risen through the ranks of Providence Extension Program, a program notorious among its students for providing a large workload and pushing its students to the brink of their sanity. While I am in no way denying this, I will state that this sort of teaching has brought me to a place where I am far more prepared for my future, no matter how vague it might appear.

Currently I am in the process of soul searching as I determine God’s plan for my life. This is not something many people would be doing in my situation, as I have several colleges lined up and ready to accept me and educate me further. The question that has arisen in my mind is whether or not the form of education we idealize, also known as college, is the type of education necessary for success. To put it simply, my answer is no.

My classical education has brought me to a place where I am pulling from vast amounts of research for my senior thesis, and has set me up for a successful career in academia. But simultaneously this path has shown me that education in a classroom is not the only education there is.

Believe it or not, in my opinion the high workload of my schooling has allowed me to gain an understanding of the world far superior to anything learned in a classroom. My classes have pushed me to exercise my own efforts, and I have consistently found that taking initiative and furthering my education on my own is far more valuable to me than a lecture in a hall. Accordingly, I feel comfortable enough in my own mind and endeavors that Nat’s self-education in Carry on Mr. Bowditch seems much more plausible in the modern world than I previously imagined. The idea that I can learn on my own time, instead of paying someone else to dump information on me, no longer seems absurd, but rather, ideal.

While reading Mark Twain in my freshman year, my teacher read this quote to us: “Do not let your schooling interfere with your education.” Why on earth a teacher would bestow this quote upon a group of unruly teenagers all looking to debate their way out of class was beyond me, until recently. It has come to my attention that certain things cannot be learned through a teacher. For far too long I have imagined that the only route to success was through college. While that may be true for some forms of education, I do not believe it is the case for classical education.

For those of you in school under the authority of your parents: There is a reasoning and logic behind their choices. They want you to succeed, and not only that but to excel. They want you to learn from the past, and in that mindset be prepared to consider the ideas of the future.

For those of you who educate high school students with egos larger than the Eastern seaboard: Take it from me when I say the work you are doing is commendable at the least, and more likely a blessing upon your students.

For now, I leave you to the scope of your imagination, but do not lose yourself to it: Instead learn to live in the real world, as parents confronting the reality of our culture, or as teens confronting the necessity and scope of your education.

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