The Most Beautiful Thing Ever Learned

How Great Thou Art sheet music

What is the most beautiful thing you have ever learned? How did you know it?

I have found that few, if anyone, can answer this question without reflection and a long pause. Contemplation is in order for this one as the outcome can lead you to a highly-desired destination—happiness.

At Revolution in Education, our thirst is for cultivating learning, understanding, and wisdom. As such, I would like to ask you to ponder these questions as we explore our responses during the month of March.

What is the most beautiful thing you have ever learned? How did you know it?

Every Thursday I meet with members of the senior class at John Adams Academy. Last week, I posed these questions and I got some great responses.

The first response was from a young man who said, “I know this may sound or seem weird to you all, but I really love my parents. I like talking to them. If I have a question or problem, I like discussing it with them. It’s amazing, but they usually know the answers. If they don’t, they help me find the solution. That’s one of the most beautiful things I have learned.”

Another young lady had an epiphany as we were discussing economics and, in particular, a statement by philosopher and economist Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations. He said, “Wealth is not gold and silver but the essentials of life—food, clothes, houses, transportation, communications, schools, good roads, factories, and well-cultivated farms…..that if you want an increased standard of living and prosperity, goods and services should be abundant and cheap.” (Smith, Adam. The Wealth of Nations. Wordsworth Editions, 2012.)  She then piped up and said, “My mother keeps telling me to get a good education so I will be financially successful. But for me wealth is found in helping others because of the way it makes me feel. I helped some younger scholars here at the school this past week, and I loved how I felt while I was doing it.”

The exchange reminded me of a brief clip of Dr. Victor Frankl as he spoke to some college students who had “make a lot of money” as their goal. Watch Dr. Frankl fervidly teach the students how to search for meaning and find a will, instead of money, in their lives.

Deeper into the discussion, another scholar surmised that being able to look at a formula in calculus and prove it was beautiful. Another mentioned the beauty of the number 3 and its repetition in the world: three primary colors, the triangle—which is the strongest geometric form, three special dimensions in geometry, the Godhead in the Bible, three wise men, three days in the tomb, three days in the belly of the whale, three denials of Christ by Peter, three core principles in Islam, the Three Jewels that Buddhists take refuge in, etc. The symmetry of this was a great beauty to this scholar. Another loved the connection of the Bible to others and to serving them. Another talked about joy and its definition of contentment. For another it was finding a missing puzzle piece and how it completed the art. For another it was rereading The Chosen a year later from the first reading and how so many new understandings came to light.

I was present at the birth of each one of my children. With Linda, I witnessed each one take their first breath. I recalled thinking each time that creating life was a great miracle. Then came my own epiphany: I discovered that God had shared his greatest gift—giving life—with me. At each of those births I was a key player in the beauty of creating life with Linda and God. There is that beautiful number three again, forming a solid triangle of husband, wife and God and wife, husband and child. I then remember singing these words from the hymn “How Great Thou Art” quietly to myself as I wept for joy.

Oh Lord, my God

When I, in awesome wonder

Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder

Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee

How great Thou art, how great Thou art

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee

How great Thou art, how great Thou art

That was the most beautiful thing I have learned. What is yours? How did you know it?

Published by Dean Forman

I am co-founder and CEO of the John Adams Academies, an institution that is perhaps the most unique charter school system in America today. The Academies’ curriculum is designed to give its students an American Classical Leadership Education®. This is an education that pursues truth, beauty and goodness and turns its scholars outward in search of those whom they can serve in becoming servant leaders. This website is dedicated to sharing the concepts of an American Classical Leadership Education with its readers so that more citizens can benefit from the truth, virtue and wisdom of the past. The thoughts and opinions I share on this page are my personal views.

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