Teaching for the Republic

Like many others, after yesterday’s horrific scene at the Capitol, I watched the Senate certification vote last night. I’ll admit that I rarely watch TV and when I do, CSPAN is almost never on the screen. But last night, I was struck by how many smart, articulate people spoke, and in particular, I was impressed by Mitt Romney. I am old enough to remember when Mitt Romney ran for the presidential nomination in 2006, and for president in 2012.

While as a Democrat, I never voted for Romney, my disagreements were never over the quality of his character. Since then, he has gone on to show how much character matters, both in words and deeds. His speech last night was one of those moments when I wanted to tell my daughters, “Watch this man—what he says is important.”

Romney said, “The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth.” This is where the importance of education comes in. Well-educated students can recognize the truth. Poorly educated students cannot determine fact from fiction. When my students ask me why we study something, I tell them that I believe that Lord Morley’s aphorism about truth is an excellent goal of education.

An educated man is one who knows when a thing is proved and when it is not. An uneducated man does not know.

–quoted in A Defence of Classical Education

I go back to work tomorrow with a renewed sense of purpose—what we, educators, do is important not just for our students, but also for our republic. We must teach our students to discern truth.

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