A Republic, if Our Teenagers Can Keep It
By Erin Graybill
I read the following line in an article today (6/29/12) on Yahoo News entitled, Did Chief Justice Roberts save the Supreme Court:
"The prestige of the court is the source of its authority," says (Terry) Moran, "and justices can't be happy if [the court] is just another football in the political war."
I then watched the video, from which the above quote was lifted, of ABC news journalists discussing the landmark ruling of the court on Obamacare. These three men seemed to concur that the Supreme Court ruled correctly based on the fact, that in so doing, they would not incur the wrath of the President and the most vocal supporters of the law, which now requires every American to carry health insurance or pay a tax.
Judge Roberts, in particular, received their praise because he did not vote along partisan lines. In fact, they speculated that public pressure and a desire for peace was the motivation behind his ruling.
In this way, they opined, the Court was “saved” to rule another day.
Be it media gossip (at best), or a more sinister revelation of a certain “mob-rule” mentality of government, it is sure to conjure up visions of 17th century-esque guillotines.
But what does this have to do with homeschooling, especially our teenagers?
Because today is not so different than the world of the very young Thomas Jefferson. The Teacher tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. The world of Jefferson was fraught with the very same ideological perils and would-be tyrants we face today, as he and our other founding fathers carved out a new country.
As Franklin said, we’ve got a Republic, if we can keep it. Thomas Jefferson did not believe we had any chance of keeping it unless we were a highly educated citizenry, with the Bible as bedrock. This is why there is no one more libeled by today's revisionists, or more subject to deconstructionist spin, as he.
How does one acheive a highly educated citizenry?
Classically educated, Jefferson met with mentors throughout his youth who trained his intellect. He came to these meetings having done his research, his observations carefully penned in his Commonplace Book, fully prepared to engage with his mentors in the timeless Conversation. For him, the conversation never stopped. Throughout his life, he authored 19,000 letters to his family and contemporaries, wrestling with the great ideas of all time, erstwhile shaping the course of a nation that was, and remains, exceptional. He knew that men would always grapple so; in fact, he encouraged it.
Of what practical end is this sort of education?
President John F. Kennedy, entertaining a group of Nobel Peace Price winners dining with him at the White House, once remarked:
"I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. Someone once said that Thomas Jefferson was a gentleman of 32 who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, and dance the minuet."
What is the purpose of a classical education?
We may or may not have eloquent young Jeffersons sitting around our dinner tables. But we do have olive branches, who will potentially grow into mighty cedars and polished cornerstones. Happy will they be, if they can gaze into the Perfect Law that gives true liberty and upon which our nation’s supreme law of the land was birthed, however flawed.
A Classical Conversations community for teens is a safe place to gaze long into the Perfect Law and see for themselves how it all connects and manifests in life. Like young Jefferson, there are subjects to research, lessons to complete, and papers to write to prepare for seminar day. The beauty of the once-a-week seminar day, though, is the synthesis that occurs when a seasoned mentor (called a Tutor) meets with a group of Challenge teens to discuss algebra, Latin, literature, science and lab, geography, and rhetoric, and how it all converges with purpose.
It is a gymnasium in which they can express what it is they know of God through the artes liberales, and practice flexing their classically-honed skills to make Him known.
Some of them may become Jeffersons, who will make Him known in the public square. But all of them will have the opportunity to make Him known in their individual spheres of influence – especially as leaders of their own one-day families. It is these families that will become the public square. Each one, saving the Republic.
Your Teen, a CC Tutor, and The Trivium
Your middle/high schooler is warmly invited to join the Conversation at our new Challenge A seminar on the north Brownville campus. For details, please contact: www.classicalconversations.com