Academy Family,

What a year of commingled uncertainty and hope, of love and exhaustion, of fear’s interplay with faith. God’s grace all the way down, as we attempted to tread educational water throughout.

The Greek word often used for education is paideia: a word which defies a comprehensive definition, much like our word “culture,” due to its use as an umbrella concept. Werner Jaeger, scholar of that same word, once wrote that paideia might best be understood as “the process by which a community preserves and transmits its physical and intellectual character.”

Education is at its best and brightest when a quality of life and a liberation of the mind toward any thought, calling, or imaginary is forever bestowed to each child of a particular culture. Jobs will follow in time, mortgages underwritten, 401K’s attended to, and college funds hopefully started. But upstream of all of that is something much more profound and humane—the full enculturation of a child into the giftedness of life itself.

But one might ask: Which community? Whose story? Who is referee, here?

The Great Conversation of Classics, whose rigor and delight are beloved twins, has left the gate open. Augustine of Hippo, Zenodotus of Alexandria, and Socrates of Athens bid you welcome, though they would never break down the door. Instead, they luxuriate going on 2500-years, and offer the same for the anxious and the suspicious.

Do not defy the anti-culture around you with suspicious children. Defy it with children who are drunk on the Rule of Joy. Where the world gives one present, we should give two. Where the world standardizes a test, we should standardize a feast. When the world is sweating college acceptance scores, we should be sweating over a hot stove filled with confectionary delight. And when the world gives up and plays the fool in materialistic glut, those who are first guided by leisure, whose handmaiden is the festive, shall attend to their studies, shall solve their equations, and shall rattle their conjugations with full bellies, rested minds, and thoughts of heaven, where old man Euclid shall be forever vindicated by the laughter of the God of circles.

We are grateful for you, your children, your family, your humor, and your kindness throughout.