Educational Warfare

How can we expect our teenagers to grasp the rigors and discipline necessary to obtain a decent education if their hearts don’t understand the basic foundations of their humanity…..virtue?

They can’t.

This has caused many of our schools to become more like battlefields than learning institutions. Teenagers enter the school every day with critical wounds to their souls, and in desperate need of spiritual triage. What they are told more often than not is simply to “sit down, shut up, and pay attention to the lesson”. But in order for them to learn anything, the spiritual hemorrhaging needs to be stopped first. Then other treatments (lessons) can be applied. If a teenager is bleeding to death, the other treatments don’t matter. If a teenager does not possess a basic understanding of the virtues, it does little good to try and teach them about American History or Algebra.

If teachers and coaches lose sight of virtue while fighting in this educational and cultural war, it is as if they are in the middle of a battle without knowing the objective for being there. One of the great dangers of this war for many of us dedicated teachers and coaches is that war becomes all we know. We cuss, discuss, argue, shout, reason, rally, petition, picket, and debate. For the most part, we do it all very well, and it can never be said that such action in the halls of education is unnecessary. But if that is the only response we have, then we might begin to see teenagers as antagonists to be overcome or opponents to be crushed. We risk no longer seeing them as wounded souls to be treated and cared for. And we risk never knowing the dramatic change of heart that can occur in teenagers when we probe the heart, and treat the wounds of vice with the salve of virtue.

Many of us who are bravely fighting for changes to our education system need to be reminded that this warfare is not the means to an end.  Sometimes war may be a necessary evil, justly waged, but we were not created for war. And, ultimately, war will not heal the wounds that our toxic culture has left on the souls of our teenagers.  Our culture will be healed by virtue.

It is our mission as teachers and coaches to carry virtue out onto the field of battle, perhaps not so much as soldiers but as combat medics, always mindful of the proverb, “physician heal thyself”.