|By Jonathan McGuire, North Campus Dean
If you had to pick the worst vice of our culture, what would you pick? Greed? Gluttony? Selfishness? Impatience? Ingratitude? The list is as many as that of virtues, of course, as every vice mirrors its opposite virtue. The one I am most concerned with lately is short-sightedness. I’ve thought more about this, in part, for a selfish reason: I need glasses! I was hoping to make it to 50 first, but c’est la vie! I can’t see well what is far away, and my eyes hurt when they strain to see the distant things on the horizon. Working around teenagers, of course, lets me “see” the same in them.
Virtue can’t exist in a disconnected way, floating from one place to another like a “thing” to pick up from a shelf or discard when unwanted. It exists in action and in relationships. An ax isn’t virtuous except in its excellent chopping. A car fulfills its virtuous purpose when it’s driven. This is how God made us: Virtue only exists in relationships. Simply put, it is impossible to be virtuous when thinking only of the Self, and every time our actions impact others, we have an opportunity for virtue. Virtue is enacted in community, and God has made it so it would always be so.
A virtuous person isn’t one who is selfish and unwilling to sacrifice short-term for a long-term good or goal but one who learns what it means to live fully and righteously even though they’re dying daily, following Christ’s cross. A virtuous person remembers the suffering is temporary, but the eternal glory and gain is not worth comparing to the temporary hardship or loss of whatever they want now. Nothing is harder to teach teenagers than these lessons. It’s like trying to get this old man to get glasses—I resist. They do, too.
Teens, more than adults, are prone to the inadequacies and deficiencies of their age: stubbornness, obstinacy, and emotional winds that blow depending on 100 factors that change daily. They may, one day, be selfless and shock us with their maturity; the next, we have whiplash and wonder where the sin in this child came from. Isn’t it amazing how often a teen will allow short-sighted, temporary pleasures to block the vision of long-term, eternal profits? Isn’t this what Jesus was asking when he said, “What does it profit (a teen) to gain the whole world (their way) and lose their soul (Christ’s way)?” Teens see decisions they want to make but not the consequences they’ll create. At Capstone, we have two curricula that give your teens a chance to learn and live a better way.
|Our informational curriculum solves this by giving them pieces of an intellectual puzzle which, over the years at Capstone, will come into focus as a beautiful portrait of God’s providential hand in history in English, science, Latin, choir, art, etc. This can be experienced to some extent by non-Gryphons, of course, in various books, articles, and videos, but few other schools (that I know of) have a curriculum as broad and deep as ours. I love Capstone!
Our House system is our relational curriculum, and it is impossible to duplicate: It is virtue embodied in a physical place, at a physical time, around physical people. In fact, it is required to be unique to Capstone since it is not a product found online, purchased on Amazon, and shipped to your door. Our informational curriculum is the Christmas present. Our relational curriculum is opening the present with family in the room. How can we say one is more important than the other? They need each other to complete joy and virtue.
I am so thankful for Capstone families and our partnership together to create a school unique in mission and method. In the years to come, as we see learners mature to graduates, we will experience the fruits of our labor as wise and virtuous children become wise and virtuous adults living for, and loving, that which is good, true, and beautiful in community. Head and heart will be joined in a way that honors the Lord, provides fertile soil for virtue, and is toxic to vice. Who knows what they will build when we are gone? The Lord does, and unless the Lord is behind what we’re doing, we are only short-sighted, blind guides, like Mr. McGuire trying to read an Interstate exit sign and not really knowing where he’s going. I encourage you, therefore, to keep your eyes on the prize, even when their eyes are like mine!