Dear Golden View Classical Academy Supporter,
America the Beautiful, at least the stanzas that we know, sings of our natural grandeur. Seas shine, national monuments dot the landscape, and pilgrims beat across the wilderness. But for all of our natural beauty, it is worth recalling what makes a country truly and enduringly beautiful and worthy of our affection. After all, it is possible to have a lovely landscape managed by a tyrant, and therefore soiled by something ugly - just ask Eastern Europe. This concern strikes at the heart of what we do at Golden View Classical Academy - present the reasons for our country and shared heritage beyond any natural endowments we happen to enjoy.
You can measure the nobility or beauty of a regime by its taste for deliberation. I mean that when we hear public figures speak, our ears should be attuned to the kind of reasons they give, the kind of speech and persuasion they use. It is one thing to just declare a rule and walk away, like a doctor who just tells a patient to do as he is told, and quite another to present not only the best reasons on one side, but the reasonable alternatives on the other. That would be more like a doctor who, knowing that you need to do something, is aware that you have your own priorities and those deserve to be weighed in the balance.
In the Upper School, we take this taste for deliberation seriously through a program called the Arts of Speech. We require students in each grade, 7th through 12th, to present one defined and specific speech, requiring preparation and focus on logic, on emotion, and on character. The result, importantly, is not just good speakers, but good listeners. Our aim is not merely that students be just and moderate in their persuasion, but that they learn to accept and enjoy a certain kind of public argument, and learn to reject and dislike others. Again, when a public person does not present reasons, or only presents some reasons and not others, or if a public person flippantly considers matters of grave concern, matters that affect us all and deserve our attention, it should be offensive to our refined sensibilities. And by “refined” I don’t mean soft and dainty, but honed, sharpened, and incisive.
An education in speech or rhetoric is an education of the soul, an education that teaches students what counts as a fair and weighty reason. The result, we think, is a country that is beautiful for its taste in thinking things through, its ability and interest to do so, and its demand that others do the same. And it doesn’t hurt to have amber waves of grain...
Principal, Golden View Classical Academy