Everyone who has been to school has the same story:
there were piles of homework, which were
usually not exciting but probably helpful.
There were lots of classes, year in and year out, most of which have faded
But above everything else,
cherished and remembered to this day, there stood out a great teacher or two who
made all the difference.
It wasn’t just what they said.
Anyone else could have repeated the same
facts or theories, but it wouldn’t have been the same.
Even if the school hired someone else to
watch those special teachers and tell everyone what they said, it would not
teach the same things as being in the classroom with the teachers themselves.
This is why we read the Great Books at Wyoming Catholic
College. Certain remarkable people in
history wrote in a way that touched the whole western world, and our students
need to sit in the classroom with these great authors. Our students could read a textbook that
summarizes what Aristotle or Dante said, but it would not be the same as
learning directly from the greatest teachers of all time. Sometimes the great authors teach by how they
phrase an idea, by the words they choose, and by the way they organize their
thoughts. At other times, they expose
the true strength or weakness of their arguments by letting us walk with them
through the birth of their ideas. But at
all times, what a student misses when he reads a textbook about Aristotle rather
than reading Aristotle is Aristotle himself:
he misses the teacher. A textbook
can teach about the great authors,
but it can’t give us the great authors
Because we read the Great Books, our students are humbled
but confident. They see how much there
is to learn, and how far they still have to go.
But they also know that they have joined the historic conversation, so
they can speak out to make a difference in history. Touched by the greatest teachers ever, they
are prepared to be the ones who make a real difference for others.