As with great works of imaginative literature, masterworks of art move us to understand and appreciate the human condition. And no master artist moves us better than Rembrandt. In his more than three hundred paintings, Rembrandt’s focus is riveted on what is real—specifically, the imperfect and yet glorious spectacle of human existence.
Can a classical alternative to today’s typical educational options appeal to the very non-traditional, highly mobile, hyper-tech-savvy millennials? I think the answer is yes, but for those of us who provide opportunities for classical education, we need to think more like millennials. We need to get inside their box and offer an attractive option that makes sense to them.
The Cana team has an opportunity to work among some distant neighbors who could benefit from the kind of learning culture we develop. In late September I was invited to give a presentation to a board of reviewers of the Gila River Indian Community. My hosts were the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit, a recently formed order of priests and brothers who have responded to the call to minister to the Native Americans just south of Phoenix, Arizona. Their hope is to open a mission high school in two years, and they have turned to Cana Academy to help them get that done. I was on site to propose a vision for the curriculum, and the friars have accepted the proposal. Now, the Cana team is constructing the curriculum.
In the almost indescribably horrific conditions of those camps, death was a daily reality for the prisoners. The cruelty of the guards, the wretched food, the dangerous and incessant labor, and disease left the prisoners in a state that would best be described as subhuman. At this nadir of the possibilities of the human condition, Gordon’s second, spiritual journey began.
Great teachers open up the world for their students. They lovingly point the way to newfound horizons and give their students the intellectual equipment they need to go as far as they can go. As this is the start of a new school year, I want to honor three teachers in my life. Each of them was different in age, appearance, and personality, but all three were impressive human beings who extended great gifts to me.