At the end of this year, The Saint Constantine School saw success by any measure and I will share some of those stories with you over time. Our students did marvelously well compared to peers. The School and College are growing. But the excellent numbers are not what I recall at the start of the summer break, but the joy of our teachers and students: the elementary student who built a “hospital” for an injured frog, the moment in a College class where a student got it, and seeing an excellent teacher tutor a student in mathematics until she grasped the concept.
We are, I trust, a place where we teach a person, not merely a group or grade.
No parent who loves their children thinks of them as numbers: “Come here 128-06-1528!” A good teacher is similar, teaching a person by name in a system set up to bring liberty to each soul. I think of one of our teachers I saw working to help a gifted student go further: individualizing. Such a Christian education stands against turning students into commodities or groups.
“I am a man, not a number!”
Prisoner Number 6 shouted this in every episode of the classic British television show The Prisoner. In the 1960’s when the show was made, the free world faced a challenge from a totalitarian system that wished to quantify people and reduce them to economic terms. Mass systems were created for the masses, including in education. Number 6 refused to accept becoming a piece of that system. He kept insisting he was a free man. His character reflected the values of one of the last British generations to receive a (mostly) Christian, classical education. Margaret Thatcher was the real life personification: every bit a woman and never a number!
Individuals who are great, even if they are not famous, are discipled individually.
Wisdom cannot be gained en masse, but only by individuals. Virtue does not come to groups, but to a person. Excellence can be achieved best when each person in a class is treated and respected as a person, joyfully. Our teachers look for the flourishing of each individual student. The skills needed in our society are then acquired, because a wise, virtuous, joyful person is hard to stop!
There will be as many as fifty more of us in the Fall and some outstanding new faculty, but each one of us is a soul and not a number.
What then are we to do or continue doing? “What else than to care for the soul, never leaving an idle moment for other things.” So Saint Basil advised his students while he helped sustain classical, Christain education. My prayer is that we continue as we have started: a place to educate individuals in wisdom and virtue with joy, never leaving an idle moment for other things!