The Importance of Rest in Classical Education

“Pourquoi est-ce que les vacances scolaires sont importantes?” Posing the question “Why are school breaks important?” to a room of high schoolers four days before the end of first semester garnered the exact passionate responses I anticipated from these tired youths. After some time for reflection, I recorded the class’ reactions on the board: “Nous sommes fatigués ! Il faut se reposer ! J’ai envie de dormir ! - We are tired! We have to rest! I need sleep!” As a teacher, I feel the same sentiments keenly this time of year.

The Day Before a Break

With everyone’s minds on the family gatherings, vacation trips, or general time of relaxation so near at hand, it is especially hard to keep students’ attention and interest in class materials. However, we don’t want to waste the precious minutes we have with our students and make school that day feel like a waste for both you and them. So, what can be done to make the day productive? 

Colored Paper in Math Class

We began our lesson on fractions, and I prepared to say the words I read in the manual the day before. "The numerator is the number above the fraction line. The denominator is the number underneath the fraction line. They represent parts being taken or the total number of parts in the whole, respectively." As I considered these words, I realized how abstract these ideas are. My lesson could be much more effective with a practical activity in my students’ hands.

Reflections on Courage: Veterans Day

We have assembled here today to honor all American veterans: those who have gone before us, those who, we are proud to say, stand here with us, and all who have served in the armed forces for the defense of our great country and our common way of life. We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude that cannot easily be repaid, and words, certainly, will not suffice. But we have also assembled this morning to reflect on what it is that we honor together: on the values of courage and self-sacrifice that our veterans exemplify, and that we hold to be worthy of imitation. Veterans Day is a time for us to ask ourselves: Can we, too, have such virtue? Would we be able to withstand the test?

The Consolation of Teaching

There is one thing, though, which never fails to bring real consolation to me in moments of stress, doubt, or wondering “what is it all for?” The obvious answer, for many teachers, is, of course, their students and the relationships they build with them over the years. This is true of myself as well, but recently my thoughts have dwelt on the everyday interactions, the words my students say, the things they notice, and the things they speak surreptitiously to each other in the back of class when they think, foolishly, that I cannot hear them.

“I don’t remember any of it.”

The goal of students’ education is not perfection, nor is it merely practical skills and good grades. The goal is not even getting an amazing job or getting into the right college. The goal is for students to appreciate what is true, good, and beautiful in the subjects they learn, so they can see what is true, good, and beautiful in their lives.