Last week, I observed a high-school English class on a campus without bells. The school didn’t need them: Every student showed up for class promptly, and they remained attentive until the last minute—without packing their books early or lining up at the door. San Luis Obispo Classical Academy (SLOCA) is a private school in Central California that promotes “personal character” and “love of learning,” and the tangible difference between this environment and that at the public high school in the area was stunning to me—even though I’m a veteran public-school teacher. And even though my own daughter is in her second year of preschool at SLOCA.
I’ve also spent the last four decades exclusively at public schools—either attending them, coaching at them, or teaching at them. I have dedicated my life to them, as have all of my good friends. I even superficially loathe the local Catholic school for its elitist attitudes and alleged recruiting techniques. But as my daughter embarks on her K-12 journey, my wife and I are leaning toward this small, 322-student private school for one really simple reason: The kids take pride in their personal character, and they admit that they love learning.
My 4-year-old daughter, for now, is just like them. And I’ve always found that it’s exponentially more fun, fulfilling, and productive to engage in activities with other people who have “bought in” to whatever they’re doing with the same level of enthusiasm. For me, this has been true in grad school, baseball practice, watching football on TV—anything, really. For my daughter, this happens when she’s learning about personification, reciting poetry, and being a good human.
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