Happiness is not merely an intellectual condition, but a moral one, and classical education attends closely to the moral development of its students. According to both simple observation and millennia-old traditions of literature and philosophy, classical educators understand that moral character is built on a foundation of habit and imitation. This foundation is later justified and reinforced by reason and intellect, but it does not start that way. Classical education begins by instilling good habits, proceeds by offering examples worth of emulation, and continues with robust examination of moral philosophy.
As Americans, students are inheritors of a civic tradition whose central idea is human equality, a truth apparent in our common humanity, and an idea that allows for our common liberty and mutual pursuit of excellence. To use the language of our founding, America’s foundational ideas and institutions were born of reflection and choice, not accident and force. It is essential that our students learn these ideas and how their country has sought to live up to its founding ideals. Their training in civic virtue is also a fulfillment of their human nature, for as Aristotle teaches, man is a political animal who can only access the heights of virtue through participation in a just political community. Through practice, affection, and knowledge, classical education educates citizens with a refined and rational love of their country, the necessary basis for civic virtue.
The project of classical education is engaged in a community that is working together in the bonds of mutual affection towards truth and virtue. Its methods and texts are often ancient, but are informed by modern knowledge, experience, and circumstances. Its intent is to form graduates befitting of their charge, who regardless of their future professions or aspirations seek to perpetuate intellectual, moral, and civic virtue in themselves and future generations. It is an education appropriate to our humanity, and essential for good government and the happiness of mankind.