The end of the school year is a challenging time, both for students and teachers. This time of year has more requirements and deadlines than any other, from writing report card comments to entering final grades to beginning to detail plans for the following school year. A few weeks ago, I felt like I was in a cloud with my mind racing through this long to-do list. That Thursday afternoon, our middle and upper school students had their orchestra and band concert, so I decided to attend. Being present at that concert completely refreshed my outlook on the rest of my year, and honestly on my role as a teacher in whole.
Our schools are more challenging than most. Our students daily grapple with questions such as what is true virtue and how did the concept of chivalry help shape medieval Europe. Few high school, and certainly very few grammar school, aged students are even presented with such questions. Yet, these types of conversations are a given at our schools. Each night, our students go home to read Moby Dick or solve differential equations. They learn the importance of their academics and take it very seriously. Such high expectations would sometimes seem to leave very little time for anything else. Yet, on that Thursday evening, I was treated to our students performing selections from Holst’s The Planets and concertos by Bach. Despite all their time in study, our students’ worlds are not limited to books and math equations. In our schools, students are presented with such a wide array of topics that open their minds and hearts to appreciate so many disciplines. In art, they learn the skills of drawing, painting, and charcoal. In choir, they learn rhythms, harmonies, and the works of master composers.
While I don’t actively teach any of these other disciplines, watching former students of mine putting on such a beautiful concert reminded me of just how special and important our schools are. This is why I teach at a classical school. This is what a rich education looks like. While my to-do list is not any shorter from this revelation, I feel a renewed sense of the importance of my work and the work of teachers at all classical schools.