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The Director’s Take

by Robert Jackson

Like any genuine renaissance, we are looking to the past—its lessons, achievements, and exemplars—to draw inspiration and a vision for the future. There is no sure thing, but we must strive to understand our historical moment if we are to act wisely and for the common good.

As we come to the end of the school year, families are eagerly firming up vacation plans to enjoy some simple pleasures: hiking, swimming, fishing, road trips, and Fourth of July fireworks. These are all part of the restful rituals that give us some time to catch our breath, reflect, and enjoy the slower pace of summer.

Whatever your plans for those lazy days, please stow this little magazine alongside your beach books. Whether it’s in your backpack or on your Kindle, I invite you to take a look at what Great Hearts has been reflecting on and what we have in mind for the year ahead. This periodical is the new publication of a new initiative: the Great Hearts Institute for Classical Education. As an initiative of the Great Hearts Foundation, the Institute will serve to promote K-12 classical education across the country: wherever families and communities are rediscovering the benefits and beauty of a liberal arts education.

Virtue aims to reach all those interested in the classical education movement, including families, teachers and staff, alumni, college personnel, and policy makers. Virtue will take a closer look at the extraordinary people of our communities; investigate the classical liberal arts approach; and explore the connections between classical education and the contemporary world. Topics will range across fields of study that have been informed and shaped by the liberal arts: mathematics, literature, the sciences, the fine arts, philosophy, history, etc.—and over the vast expanse of recorded history, from antiquity down to the present age.

Each issue of Virtue will have articles and interviews from the nation’s leading intellectuals; profiles of outstanding teachers, alumni, and students; succinct descriptions of classical education explaining what, how, and why we teach the liberal arts; essays by notable academic scholars relating their work to classical education; and an assortment of topics to keep us all thinking afresh as we continue to pursue the classical ideals of truth, goodness, and beauty. 

In this first issue, we will look at several facets of American history. Just as the cover painting by Thomas Eakins depicts a historical scene from American life, we will peer into several ways that classical educators portray the historical record with art and enthusiasm. You’ll read an excerpt from Professor Wilfred McClay’s next book, Land of Hope, a narrative of American history that helps us think about where we came from and the myriad decisions that brought us to our present moment. You’ll overhear an interview with Dr. David Bobb, the president of the Bill of Rights Institute, a 20-year old organization which continues to engage students and equip teachers to understand the foundations of our free society. Alexi Sargeant, a freelance writer from New York City, will provide a journalist’s perspective on learning U.S. history from primary sources. You’ll also meet an alumnus of Glendale Preparatory Academy (AZ) who has successfully completed the capstone-thesis project of his senior year, exploring two authors from the 19th century whose works have defined greatness for generations. In short, these articles will draw your attention to the extraordinary activities of classical schools, where we find abundant insights and models from a masterful reading of history.

It’s fitting to launch this inaugural edition of Virtue with the start of summer, a season of leisure and reflection—those activities so essential to a good life. So, relax and enjoy these pages, as we reflect on some anecdotes and arguments in support of the growing movement of classical education.

Like any genuine renaissance, we are looking to the past—its lessons, achievements, and exemplars— to draw inspiration and a vision for the future. There is no sure thing, but we must strive to understand our historical moment if we are to act wisely and for the common good.

Thanks for spending some time with us, and I hope you enjoy getting to know more about the Great Hearts Institute for Classical Education—and the enterprise for which it exists. 

We are looking to the past—its lessons, achievements, and exemplars—to draw inspiration and a vision for the future. We must strive to understand our historical moment if we are to act wisely and for the common good.

History always begins in the middle of things. It doesn’t matter where you choose to start the story, there is always something essential that came before, some prior context that is assumed.

Like a river, time’s restless force pushes ever forward, relentlessly. But its beginnings lie far back, eventually extending far beyond what we can see, fading into the mists of time at the edges of lands beyond our knowing.

Typically reserved for college students, a thesis is an academic rite of passage for high school seniors at Great Hearts Academies. As the culminating experience of their studies, students work to master the rigor of rhetoric, demonstrating their critical capacities.

The room is decorated simply, with pictures of presidents, congressional leaders, and Supreme Court justices on the walls. Twenty-five students are sitting around a set of tables forming a rectangle, debating Article III of the Constitution and Federalist Paper No. 78.

Robert Jackson recently interviewed the president of the Bill of Rights Institute, David Bobb, who discusses how classical education helps promote leadership; what he considers the most crucial issues of our day; and how to get students beyond test preparation.

About Virtue Magazine

Virtue is the flagship publication of the Institute for Classical Education. It disseminates stories, ideas, research and experiences in classical education to readers across the nation, helping them pursue the classical ideals of truth, goodness, and beauty.

Subscribing to Virtue’s mailing list is absolutely free. Sign-up today to receive your first copy!