This blog’s purpose

My name is Dean Forman and I am thrilled that you have found me here. I’ve titled this site Leading a Revolution in Education because the right education has the power to lead change in a person, a community, and a country. 

I am passionate about our beautiful country and the liberties we enjoy. I don’t believe that those liberties are a given for future generations unless we are committed as citizens now to understand them and to protect them.

This website is dedicated to sharing the principles of an American Classical Leadership Education® with its readers so that more citizens can benefit from the truth, virtue and wisdom of the past.

This site is dedicated to learning, discovery, discussion, and ultimately acting. Together we will travel back in time to dive deep into the minds of the most important philosophers, authors, and leaders to have ever lived. I have spent years of my life studying their words. The truths I’ve learned have inspired and changed me, and I know they will change you, too.

In addition to looking back, we will examine the events of this moment in time. There are things happening in our world and country that demand our immediate attention. The wisdom and virtues of the works from the past will inform the actions that we can take together to preserve our current liberties.

Share this site with a friend or close family member. We will learn here. We will be edified together. 

And if this all sounds a little heady, don’t worry. We will have a little fun as well with contests, prizes, and plenty of connection and interaction with new friends. 

Your friend,

Dean Forman

Habits of Happiness

In the last 50 to 100 years, education has been about getting as many facts as possible into our heads to then regurgitate it all on a test to show the subject has been mastered.

How many facts do you remember from those classes?

That’s my point, education in our era has become about getting through the class instead of internalizing the ideas through ourselves! I have suggested in prior blog posts that real education requires us to engage and immerse ourselves in the classics. A classic is a book that has a “great theme.” Is written in “noble language.” It has universality and speaks across the ages. It summarizes the virtues and values of a civilization at its apex. I also love classics because in just a few hours I can read or listen to the ideas of great leaders and thinkers—concepts that may have taken them a lifetime to understand, and yet they have distilled it perfectly for me in an entirely different age.

Perhaps you, like me, are busy. If a book, blog or podcast does not fit these criteria, I decidedly put them lower in my sequence of importance. My time, focus and energy is a precious resource. I treat it accordingly.

Liberated and Self-Governing

Education, as you have absorbed on this blog, is interminable. It is about learning how to become a liberated self-governing citizen and a soul that seeks and lives a life of happiness and joy. The natural aristocracy of discovery and learning is very human and known to all of us but achieved by few. Why?

One challenge is that shiny, new information is coming at us every moment of the day. How do you manage it all without being overloaded? How do you organize and sift through the rubble of modern ideas and minutiae to pull the most important details into ideas and use reason and common sense of truth to allow them to flourish? A practical education leads to understanding and to the application of ideas based on the principles of freedom and success.

I remember wondering what the reason was behind taking “general education” classes in college when all I wanted was to focus on was the business courses that were my passion at the time. Unfortunately, the liberal arts classes required were not drenched in much classical learning about ideas. One of my teachers scolded that I was very focused on getting through those classes and joining the business world as soon as possible. She was right! However, shortly after getting out of school and into business I found a book on cassette tape at the time, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. This book turned my world upside down. Although it is a book that applied well to business for me, I found it was one that dealt more with a “way of being” or becoming than anything else. I was struck by this statement. “Between stimulus and response is a space. In this space lies our freedom to choose our response. In these choices lie our growth and our happiness.” Read and ponder that simple and powerful statement again.

The Power in Keeping Promises

The first of Covey’s three habits teach us how to obtain mastery over self. They include: Be Proactive®, Begin With the End in Mind®, and Put First Things First®. These first three habits can be summarized as I make and keep my promises to self and others. Integrity in our words and deeds is the highest form of loyalty to self and others. As my wife Linda sagely taught our children, “It is better to be trusted than liked.” Mastery over self aids us in developing integrity and becoming an individual whom others can trust. It is a private and personal victory.

The second three habits of Think Win-Win®, Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood®, and Synergize® aid us in relationship to others, in solving problems and working out solutions together. Executed correctly, it becomes a public victory and is a higher form of independence as it actually produces interdependence—or problem solving on a larger scale precisely because it includes others.

Principles Versus Values

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People also teaches that there is a fundamental difference between principles and values. Values govern our behavior and are internal to us. They are what we may think about people, things, or ideas. But principles govern the consequences of those choices or behaviors. Principles are Natural Laws of a Divine Universe that are external to us and dictate the consequences of our actions. Principles operate regardless of our awareness of them, acceptance of them, liking them, belief in them, or obedience to them.

We find laws in all aspects of life such as nature, mathematics, science, business, and more. Think of, for example, physics and laws of motion and thermodynamics, the formula for pi in mathematics, compound interest, budgeting, inflation, the law of gravity or the Ten Commandments.

Principles are also strongly connected to humility because as we stumble in ignorance or willfully violate laws, we realize we are not in control; therefore, we submit ourselves to true principles and law. Pride says we are in control as we act out our values, falsely believing life is a buffet and we can live it “our way”— an egotistical cry of “let me be who I am!” Therefore, we should always lead with principles and allow Natural and Divine Law to shape our values.

A key component of the classics is to teach us about these principles or laws as played out through the lives of others who have walked the road of mortality ahead of us. In classics we discover principles and virtues we wish to obey and emulate or acquire laid beside others that we discard because we know the lawful outcome.

The Key to Happiness

We each possess gifts of excellence, or as the Greeks called it arête. Using our gifts in accordance with principles of freedom to bless others is the very key to our happiness. As we use our gifts to comply with principles or laws of happiness, they shape our values and solidify our habits to become our character. As we serve others with fidelity to moral virtue, we develop integrity. The circle of acquiring these virtues is called interminable improvement or taking time to Sharpen the Saw® as Covey calls it. This is all part of what Plato suggested when he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The 7 Habits is a modern classic with a call to examine your life and find balance in the virtues you develop.

A lot of us desperately desire happiness, but we are applying the “law of the school” which teaches us we can memorize a few key facts and, because of our gifts, efficiency, personality or talents, we can control the circumstances of our lives. In essence we become a person driven by convenience, situational ethics, or false values to be a certain way and regurgitate it on the stage of life as needed. The principle-informed and values-based person who has learned to obey the basic principles of effective living develops an impeccable character through obedience to principles of Natural and Divine Laws. The outcome is one of two ways: a person who has a situational “personality” façade or a person who has developed the habits of moral virtue—a “character of becoming” or of destiny.

When you are sorting out the plethora of information, develop and use the seven principles of effective people along with giving strict heed to the principles of freedom and happiness. You may be surprised what you can truly become.

Echoes of Graduation and Coronation

“P.S. I am highly pleased with your Declaration. God preserve the united States. We know the Race is not to the swift nor the Battle to the Strong. Do you not think an Angel rides in the Whirlwind and directs this Storm?”

John Page to Thomas Jefferson (July 20, 1776) 

Last week was graduation week! Another race has concluded. As I reflected, I had to pause many times and acknowledge Providence and the various Angels in the Whirlwinds directing the storms around us. Those angels came in the form of parents, family, teachers, and administrators. It is a sobering moment for our graduates to close the door of their secondary education and, for many, part from the people, things or friendships that have surrounded them and given them refuge and a place of belonging for these past years. 

“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

—André Gide 

As those new oceans are navigated, we need to remember, as our guest speaker Dr. Kenneth Calvert quoted C.S. Lewis, to “keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds.”

We do so by engaging the wisdom of the ages from the classical works that teach us. The classics and classical education are the rediscovery of virtue, beauty, and truth found under the debris of modern ideas. I looked at the 80+ seniors there in their caps and gowns, which were truly their robes of honor. Such regalia is meant to create recognition, honor and distinction for the work performed. They all looked so solemn, and yet joyful and happy. They depart the halls of their schools the newest recognized servant leaders of John Adams Academy and the world. 

The National Anthem, the speeches, the valedictorian, salutatorian, cords of recognition, tassel, etc. were part of the solemnity of the moment designed to recognize the new princes and princesses of the Academy. How could they not feel “royal” for a few hours or a day or two this week as they paraded through the hall of the Academy to the cheers of all the scholar-body and faculty? The echoes of coronation within the pomp of graduation are unmistakable. 

I thought about the coronation of King Charles III. At one point in the coronation ceremony, he takes a solemn oath and is anointed with oil, and then ordained to be the new King of England. It is almost impossible to imagine him not being impacted by the pomp and circumstance of the moment. Note the solemn oath and words and reflection to the days of the Kings of Israel. 

The Oath

Archbishop of Canterbury recites:

Your Majesty,

the Church established by law, whose settlement you will swear to

maintain, is committed to the true profession of the Gospel, and, in so

doing, will seek to foster an environment in which people of all faiths and

beliefs may live freely. The Coronation Oath has stood for centuries and is

enshrined in law.

Are you willing to take the Oath?

Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United

Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, your other Realms and

the Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their

respective laws and customs?

The King responds:

I solemnly promise so to do.

Archbishop of Canterbury asks:

Will you to your power cause Law and Justice, in Mercy,

to be executed in all your judgements?

The King responds:

I will.

The Anointing

Zadok the Priest, Handel

The choir sing the anthem.

Zadok the priest

and Nathan the prophet

anointed Solomon king.

And all the people rejoiced and said:

God save the King!

Long live the King!

May the King live forever!

Alleluia! Amen!

The Anointing screen is arranged around the Coronation Chair.

The Dean pours oil from the ampulla into the spoon,

the Archbishop anoints The King.

The King is anointed on Hands, Breast, and Head,

with the associated words (sotto voce).

Archbishop of Canterbury recites:

Be your hands anointed with holy oil.

Be your breast anointed with holy oil.

Be your head anointed with holy oil,

as kings, priests, and prophets were anointed.

And as Solomon was anointed king by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet, so

may you be anointed, blessed, and consecrated King over the peoples, whom the Lord

your God has given you to rule and govern; in the Name of the Father, and of the Son,

and of the Holy Spirit.


The Presentation of Regalia

The Sword

Archbishop of Canterbury recites:

Hear our prayers, O Lord, we beseech thee,

and so direct and support thy servant King Charles,

that he may not bear the Sword in vain;

but may use it as the minister of God

to resist evil and defend the good,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The sword is placed in the King’s right hand.

Archbishop of Canterbury recites:

Receive this kingly Sword.

May it be to you, and to all who witness these things,

a sign and symbol not of judgement, but of justice;

not of might, but of mercy.

Trust always in the word of God,

which is the sword of the Spirit,

and so faithfully serve our Lord Jesus Christ in this life,

that you may reign for ever with him

in the life which is to come. Amen.

The Robe and Stole Royal

Receive this Robe. May the Lord clothe you with the robe of

righteousness, and with the garments of salvation.

The Orb

Receive this Orb, set under the Cross, and remember always the kingdoms

of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.

The Ring

Receive this Ring, a symbol of kingly dignity, and a sign of the covenant

sworn this day between God and King, King and people. 

The Sceptre and Rod

Receive the Royal Sceptre, the ensign of kingly power and justice; and the

Rod of equity and mercy, a symbol of covenant and peace.

May the Spirit of the Lord which anointed Jesus at his baptism, so anoint

you this day, that you might exercise authority with wisdom, and direct

your counsels with grace; that by your service and ministry to all your

people, justice and mercy may be seen in all the earth: through the same

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Crowning

King of kings and Lord of lords,

bless, we beseech thee, this Crown,

and so sanctify thy servant Charles

upon whose head this day thou dost place it

for a sign of royal majesty,

that he may be crowned with thy gracious favour

and filled with abundant grace and all princely virtues;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth,

supreme over all things,

one God, world without end.


The Archbishop brings the crown down onto The King’s head.

Scholars change your tassels to the left side!

While we may not as yet possess all the regalia of kings or queens, is there anything more liberating and noble than to be a self-governing servant leader? May our newest graduates enjoy the view from this one of many peaks of accomplishment in their lives. May they remember the pomp and circumstance of this week and day; but most importantly may they remember the mission of “restoring America’s heritage by building servant leaders who are keepers and defenders of the principles of freedom for which our founding fathers pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.” We urge them to move forward informed by core values they recited and promised to keep the past 12 years. In the words of John Quincy Adams—“pursue with singleness of soul the path of duty, imploring for the faculty to will and to do—to move in charity, to rest in Providence and to turn on the poles of truth.

At This Moment: A Memorial Day Tribute


On this Memorial Day, I share a video from Hillsdale College that at only three and half minutes offers a poignant tribute to those who gave their lives for the freedoms we today enjoy. Watch the video here and feel free to share it with your loved ones.

“…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

–Abraham Lincoln

Live a Good Life: Lessons From Filoli Gardens

“The sundial’s truth: Time began in a garden and never truly departs.” —Jessica Yaffa Shamash

The “L-I” in FILOLI: The Good Life

A few weeks ago Linda and I visited Filoli Gardens south of San Francisco. Filoli is a beautiful estate of 23,000 acres on a slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Christened “Filoli” by the creator William Bourn, it is a made-up word taken from the first letters of his personal motto: FI-ght for a just cause; LO-ve your fellow man; LI-ve a good life. Living an abundant, good life is our goal.

The ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle had much to say about living the good life of greatest happiness. He suggested that as we journey through life we may discover or even acquire the knowledge of what happiness is. It is a life of activity and is an end and not the means to an end.

Aristotle says a life of joy, abundance and happiness should not be confused with the pleasure of the poorer class of people nor honor from politics, or wealth of the affluent, but a contemplative life built on developing moral virtue that leads to human excellence or happiness. This means an acquaintance of the cardinal virtues of courage, temperance, justice, and prudence. Then developing the habits of choosing the mean between two extremes. As in the case of courage the extreme on one end is overzealousness or recklessness. On the other end cowardice or paralysis.

After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and fires many of the wealthy migrated south to the peninsula to escape the city ruin. New railroad tunnels made the commute easier, large estates soon became the fashion in the Hillsborough and Woodside areas. Thus Filoli was built with steel girders to protect against the home being built just a few hundred yards from the San Andreas Fault by the Bourn Family. As it turns out it straddles the fault with the Pacific Plate on one side and the North American Plate on the other.

About FILOLI’s Creator: William Bourn

William Bowers Bourn was born in 1857 and raised a wealthy son in post-Gold Rush San Francisco. His family had ownership or a significant stake in the Empire Mine in the Nevada City Area in the heart of Gold Country of Highway 49. The miners were asked to drill even further down in the mine. To accomplish that they imported miners from Europe skilled in burrowing deeper than any thought possible. They encountered a vein of gold that was a huge money maker. Thus, they had the resources to build this fantastic self-sustaining country estate. The land reminded them of Muckross Estate in Ireland near the Killarney Lakes. This was also purchased in 1910 by William and Agnes Bourn as a wedding gift for their only daughter Maud and became a place of refuge and beauty and gave them the idea for such an estate on the peninsula 30 miles below San Francisco.

William said, “My idea is to devote the afterglow of my life, this is the next 40 to 50 years or so, in personal supervision of its development. There I hope to grow young.” What sets this beautiful estate apart from others was the creation of the gardens and love of flowers, trees, and shrubs in all their varieties that are raised on the property. It is like eye candy everywhere. It’s a stunning sight to see so much variety in color. Or as expressed by John Ruskin a Victorian-era art critic, “Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.” May is that time of year to enjoy the April showers that bring May flowers.


Gardens were the English word for flowers, which is a derivative of the word flourish. The primary sense is to open, expand, enlarge, or to shoot out, as in glory. We fell in love with the name and the idea of Aristotle’s living the good life by fighting for a just cause and loving our fellow man. These ideas seem to go hand in hand. There were also several pithy quotes inset into the landscape that gave it character as well. Here are two more:

“Dappled light shines through Each branch a puzzle of Sun The leaves glow chartreuse.”—Rachel Matzke

“Bee clothed in pollen Gathering what will become Honey for my tea.” —Jessica Chen

The “F-I” in FILOLI: Finding Your “Just Cause”

What is your “just cause” you would live for, fight, or die for? A young shepherd named David asked this rhetorically when challenged by his older brother who thought David was being brash when he expressed his courage to accept the invitation of the giant Goliath.

“And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him. And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” ( The Bible, KJV, 1 Samuel 17:26-29)

There were several causes listed by him. He would fight for his family, liberty, and community.

The “L-O” in FILOLI

The middle of the Filoli sequence is to LO-ve your fellow man. The rest of this story helped fulfill this vision when the estate passed to the Roth Family in 1937 some 20 years after the estate was built. Lurline Roth took a special interest in the garden. She later donated the house and garden to the National Trust for Historic Preservation by stating: “Filoli is too beautiful to be private.” Thus sharing her love of fellow man by donating this beautiful estate into trust for all of us.


All of this can perhaps be summarized this way:

“To be what is called happy one should have something to live on, something to live for, something to die for. The lack of one of these results in drama. The lack of two results in tragedy.” —Cyprian Norwid

The Transformation is Available to You As Well

The American Classical Leadership Education® employed at John Adams Academies was designed to transform the scholar. The model “liberates the scholar by enabling the scholar to discover truth. The scholar is invited to act on that truth and in the process grows in wisdom. It is by thoroughly engaging in the classics and by the examples of great mentors that a scholar is inspired to develop the virtue to do what is right. These are the necessary pillars for the cultivation of servant leadership of self-governing citizens who choose to serve, particularly in keeping and defending the principles of freedom throughout civil society.”

Last week we enjoyed an essay by a transformed scholar who is soon to graduate. I’d like to share some other examples of transformed scholars, in their own words describing their own experiences. But this time I invite you to ask yourself the following as you read:

Is the transformation being described something that I would like for myself? Am I past the point of being able to experience the same?

With those questions in mind, I’d love to share the following:

Sariah Jensen: “The main way John Adams Academy has changed me is by making me love classics. If I went to any other school I know that I would not have read any classics…I was trying to complete the 50 Harvard book challenge that was given my sophomore year. I got to about 30 books, sadly I will not be able to finish while still in high school. Most of those books were hard to read because I thought they were not that interesting, but in each book there would be something that was great and made it worth reading. All of the books that I have read for my classes have been life-changing, always making me think of something greater.”

Camilla Bergstrom: “Receiving a classical liberty-based education has changed my view on the world around me and has taught me the fundamental concepts to succeed in life; those are the pursuit for truth, wisdom, and virtue, and through it all prioritizing the embodiment of servant-leadership. Classical form of education carries with it the power to transform lives through the study of classics…I started to use my studies from my philosophy class and apply the lessons learned to my everyday life. I learned that all the great men in history, since ancient times, succeeded when they used their wisdom to follow the truth through virtuous actions… The pursuit of truth is a lifelong journey that is and will lead me to be a better citizen. Wisdom is also acquired over time. It has improved my self-governance and ability to decide in challenging situations. Additionally, it is wisdom and truth that promote a strong virtuous character. John Adams Academy has changed my mentality on education, politics, and what a good life looks like. Aside from growing intellectually, John Adams Academy has impacted my moral compass and allowed me to see a new purpose for my existence.”

Isabella Matson: “Through my classical education at John Adams, I have learned what good morals and virtues look like. I know what the foundation of my country is based upon and who it was founded by. I know the great philosophers that came before and am able to understand their arguments and logic. I used to believe that religion was not for me, but being here in this place has inspired me to research the different communities of religion in hopes that I will find one where I fit and restore my faith in God. I used to believe that there was such a thing as the perfect family or the perfect environment, but it is here I realized that neither of those things exist. It is through hard work and dedication that one can achieve a more ideal world, but the perfect world does not exist. I used to believe that the world was against me until I came here, gained a wonderful education, and stopped blaming the world for my problems. It is through this very education that I was able to battle my depression, as it showed me a world that is beautiful and the pieces that are not. It showed me that I have the ability and power to change.”

Clara Cammarota: “At John Adams Academy “my faith has become more concrete…Because of John Adam Academy’s classical approach to education, I do not believe I could be as firm in my faith as I am today. Learning from the great thinkers has helped me in a way that no matter where I go, I have the tools to be happy. Realizing that God is good and just has helped me to see that suffering is not a meaningless happenstance with effects that will linger forever. All things have a purpose and although we as humans might not see them, God in Heaven has a plan for all His creations. Everything happens for a reason and that is a comfort to me and to all people who have struggled.”

Valeria Cerna: “Throughout my years at John Adams, I have seen and experienced what it means to be a supportive classmate. When I took biology in my sophomore year, I struggled with understanding a few assignments. I reached out to my classmates and asked them for help. I will never forget how kind and caring they were toward helping me. I have found this to be a common theme no matter the class I am in: caring for the education of others. Everyone truly desires and contributes to the academic success of everyone else. The scholars at John Adams Academy create a positive environment by supporting each other.”

Just as the American Classical Leadership Education® was designed to transform the scholar, Revolution in Education has been designed to inspire you to transform yourself.

True, there are no teachers here to assign essays, homework or due dates. It is up to you to seek out the knowledge available to you and do the work of consuming, processing and applying the wisdom expressed by the greats from the past.

I promise that if you take this journey, you will find that you–like these exceptional scholars setting out to change the world after changing themselves– will scarcely be able to stop yourself from striving to transform your family, your community, and your country for the better through your service and your leadership.


Sturdy Virtue and a Living Faith: Happy Mother’s Day

There are many stories to be told of the love and strength of mothers throughout history.

The women of The Mayflower certainly had love for their children or future children in mind when they each made the decision to brave the journey to a new world.

The risks were great, but their hopes for their children and families were greater. They saw the possibilities for freedom and the opportunity to love and serve God according to their consciences and they could not pass up the chance for those blessings.

An alarming number of women would perish that first winter in Plymouth. All but four survived.

The other survivors of that first dreadful season included 25 children. These children of the colony would be cared for and raised by the remaining four women, none of whom were spared the grief of loss despite having been spared their lives.

These mothers were a blessing to their now 35 million descendants.

It’s no wonder Plymouth, Massachusetts is home to the monument “The Pilgrim Mother” on which is inscribed the following:

They brought up their families in sturdy virtue and a living faith in God without which nations perish!

Today, my love and admiration goes to all the mothers who have likewise striven to bring up their families in virtue and faith. This is our own “new world” full of uncertainty and risks and your efforts are noble and appreciated.

Happy Mother’s Day!

An Education That Has the Power to Transform

As the school year wraps up, many scholars are graduating and moving on to the next stage of their education. It has been my honor to have been led by Providence to create, with Linda, the American Classical Leadership Education® and I am humbled by the impact I have seen it have on our scholars over the years. And as a portion of those students leave our school’s nest, I would like to share some thoughts coming from one soon-to-be graduate.

The American Classical Leadership Education® model teaches and inspires thinkers, leaders, inventors, citizens, entrepreneurs, and statesmen.  It inspires, leads, and invites  individuals “how to think” and teaches them why it is important.  Robert Hutchins said classical education is “the education of free men in the knowledge and skills that are needed to remain free.” This is because leaders select the goals of a nation and the methods of achieving those goals, and the education of tomorrow’s leaders determines the level of freedom, prosperity, and integrity of the next generation.

Those may seem like lofty and rigorous standards to put on the shoulders of youth, but I assure you that the fruits that have been borne bear out the model. Here is an example exhibited through a response to the prompt “How has John Adams Academy changed you?”— a prompt that I give to the scholars and staff each year as the school year winds down.

How Has John Adams Academy Changed Me?

Lauren E. Bixle

“How my education at John Adams Academy changed me” is the question at hand and the topic of this essay. After giving the question a great deal of thought and reflection I was struck by the realization that, at least for me, it is the wrong question. In order to assess how my education has “changed” me, I need a frame of reference for what I was before. Fortunately, I have no such frame of reference because John Adams Academy is all I’ve ever known. I am blessed to have been formed and shaped by the curriculum and culture of John Adams Academy from the very beginning of my educational journey. Therefore, I think a better way to address the thrust of the question is to examine and celebrate what my education at John Adams Academy has helped me become – a scholar, servant leader, and citizen committed to a cause “greater than self” who has learned to love abundantly.

As a scholar I have learned to love classical education and the wisdom it imparts. Learning is a noble endeavor proper to human beings, and the ability to understand ideas and principles as “true” is among the most beautiful fruits of classical education. I have come to love learning and embrace it as a lifelong process. Nothing surpasses the knowledge and wisdom found in theClassics as they reveal the universal themes and great stories of human existence.

As a servant leader I have learned to love people and derive joy and purpose from working on their behalf. Through role models such as George Washington I have learned what true leadership is and how service is the essential component of it. Servant leadership is key to finding greater purpose in life. It is a signal virtue – one that prepares people for citizenship, equips them for self-government, and makes them worthy of the blessings of liberty.

For example, because I love my school and my fellow scholars I was pained to see the negative impact on connectedness and community spirit caused by the Covid pandemic and related public policy. I strongly believe the increase in social media use among my peer group has also contributed to this malaise. I felt compelled to address this problem so I created a sustainable peer mentoring program encouraging healthy, positive scholar connections. Having seen the enormous impact of mentors in my own life, I believed peer mentorship could reduce feelings of disconnectedness and restore authentic human engagement among my peers. With the support of staff and administration I was given the opportunity to incorporate this program into Secondary Lyceum and I am working on developing the model to include Elementary as well. This project catalyzed my passion for servant leadership and demonstrated how one person can have a positive impact on many. John Adams Academy nurtures servant leadership and creates an environment where it can flourish – within me, and within others.

As a citizen I have learned to love liberty, the Founding Principles, and the traditions of Western Civilization handed down by our forebears. John Adams Academy has prepared me for “citizenship” in the true sense of the word. Through my classical education and scholarship at John Adams Academy I have acquired powerful intellectual tools that will guide me as I engage a world increasingly hostile to the principles of freedom. As I contemplate the meaning of “Public and Private Virtue,” I consider courage to be the principal virtue upon which all others are predicated and feel confident that my time at John Adams Academy has prepared me for the fight that lies ahead.

At John Adams Academy I have also learned to love life. Life is precious and must be defended, both at the individual and societal levels. Life is also finite, creating a sense of urgency to act meaningfully and purposefully for the betterment of myself and my fellow citizens. Time is far too precious to squander on idle pursuits, enslaved to base desires or beholden to the whims of those who seek to rule over us. I learned at John Adams Academy that “Self-governance, Personal Responsibility and Accountability” are hallmarks of citizenship and liberty. That is my path.

I can’t know who I would be today had my path been different, but I know for certain I would not be the person I am without John Adams Academy. The culture, curriculum and extraordinary mentors at John Adams Academy have opened many doors for me and set me on this path of lifelong learning in pursuit of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Mentors have been my guiding light – because of them, I can envision a future full of purpose and abundance and possess the tools to pursue it fearlessly. Faced with a nation in crisis, my mentors have called me to duty – to be a beacon of hope for others and reject the temptation to despair. Drawing on the wisdom of the Classics and the encouragement of my peers and mentors, I will go forth with courage and boldly carry the best traditions of Western civilization and the American Founding into the future.

I am proud of the person I have become, and feel profound gratitude for the role John AdamsAcademy has played in making me that person. May I always act in a manner that brings honor to the name and legacy of our beloved school.

In a Democratic Republic such as the United States, all citizens have a part in government.  Based upon true principles each citizen should be able to look past instant gratification, rhetoric, fancy speeches, and simplistic solutions to understand the right course of action.  Every one of the citizens of this great nation has the responsibility once reserved for only the well-educated, the classically educated.  And so, every citizen, college-bound or not, should receive the type of education that will develop greatness in mind and character to a become servant leader of integrity and sound judgment.

In Lauren I not only see a bright future, but I have confidence that she will be among the fiercest defenders of truth, beauty, and virtue out there. It is through her words that I hope you will see why I am calling all to a Revolution in Education.

Sports and Liberties

Have you ever considered the relationship among freedom, family and franks?

Our recent visit to New England brought us a few unexpected detours, and one of the best was a last minute decision to sit in with the Sox in famous Fenway Park.

Besides the chance for some good old-fashioned leisure, catching a game gave me the opportunity to help my grandkids make some connections between the things they love (like taking time out to watch sports) and the things they should treasure (like a country that gives its citizens space to pursue their own greatness). Sports, like baseball, give us another aspect of personal liberty. One of the blessings of freedom is to produce opportunities for talent discovery in the areas of competition and personal improvement. We can’t help but admire those who develop their personal talent and have the courage to put it on display. Americans are strivers, go-getters, and innovative thinkers. In fact, what could be more American than “baseball, hot dogs, apple pie”—except perhaps as one car company suggested in 1976 that we expand the slogan from a trio to a quartet by adding the word Chevrolet!

Of course, all ball games begin with the National Anthem!

Fenway Park—It never gets old! Built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, this is one of the most beautiful and storied baseball parks in America. It is a stunning beauty on the inside. As we toured this park it was evident just how much history it holds.

Sports finds its genesis in education. The pursuit of athletic greatness has allowed many dreams to come true, but not without desire, determination, and grit.

A Fenway Frank is also a necessity!

A grandson named Boston is also important! Can you tell who that is?

A Look at the History-Makers

As a boy I loved the stories of Babe Ruth and Willie Mays. Here is what the baseball legend Babe Ruth wrote of his school experience:

Ruth was sent to St. Mary’s Industrial School at the age of seven. There he met Brother Matthias who Ruth said “was the greatest man I’ve ever known. Brother Matthias studied what few gifts I had and drew those out of me. He always built me up…when I would have trouble with my studies….he’d help me—though he had a hundred other things to do. He taught me to read and write and he taught me the difference between right and wrong.”

Ruth’s education was achieving its primary purpose, which is to teach true and false, good and bad, right and wrong. Aristotle called this being “of great soul.” A soul is defined as “the spiritual, rational and immortal substance in man, which distinguishes him from brutes; that part of man which enables him to think and reason, and which renders him a subject of moral government.” (Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language 1828)

I loved the fact that Babe Ruth was never afraid to strike out. While holding the record for strikeouts he also held the home run record for decades at 714. He always tried to swing as hard as he could. He would hit big or miss big. His professional success informed his personal success. He knew that a team was made up of many players contributing in unison—and not individual stars. As the most successful player of his time, he often lent his teammates money with few paying him back. (O’Neil, William. 2004. Sports Leaders & Success: 55 Top Sports Leaders & How They Achieved Greatness. McGraw-Hill.)

Babe Ruth could pitch, field, and his batting was legendary. But my baseball hero growing up was Willie Mays.

Mays too came from humble circumstances. He could hit with power, field, run and throw. His fielding was legendary. His father told him that to be a professional baseball player he needed to do all those things very well. Mays’ mentor was his father, who taught him honesty, fairness with others, and a work ethic to excellence.

“The greatest athletes are talented, of course, but the best of all time generally reach that status by outworking everyone else of equal or greater talent.”

—William J. O’Neil, Founder Investor’s Business Daily

Learning From the Greats

Our visit to Fenway was punctuated with a visit to their museum of baseball heroes. There we observed souvenirs of those who overcame numerous challenges, with the most difficult being control over self.  Sitting in a display case was a Dodgers uniform with the number 42 which belonged to Jackie Robinson, perhaps the greatest baseball player ever. He lived at a time when black players were not allowed to compete in the major leagues—that is until Dodger President Branch Rickey put him on the team and taught him to not answer the slurs, taunts, or verbal abuse, but let his play on the field do the speaking.

By the time we walked out of Fenway, our stomachs were full of franks and our heads were full of stats, but I still hoped my grandchildren were coming away with more important lessons—the ones that had the power to influence their futures.

Successful people in all endeavors set goals, educate themselves in their passion, outwork others and are fiercely driven and determined to do what it takes to succeed. We lingered especially on the uniform of Jackie Robinson who broke the racial divide by perhaps his greatest victory—the one over self.  What a day!

Featured image attribution: Fenway Park

What is Man?

Before our recent trip to Massachusetts someone incredulously asked me, “You aren’t going to visit Harvard are you?”

I responded immediately, “Of course we are!”

Harvard University is the place John Adams was educated. One of the first things the New England Pilgrims did was establish schools of higher learning! Intellectual capacity and development is a heritage to New England and to this country. All who come here should recognize the indispensable nature of education in furthering happiness and success.

Consider this, Harvard was established in 1636 in Boston a mere 18 years after the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth. Education mattered to them. As noted in a prior post, one of the four values represented in stone on The National Monument to the Forefathers was education. On it is shown a child and mother on one side and a grandfather on the other representing teaching, mentoring and wisdom.

The Johnston Gate entrance to Harvard includes this inscription:

After God had carried us safe to New England/ and wee had builded our houses/ provided necessaries for our liveli hood/ reard convenient places for Gods worship/ and setled the civill government/ one of the next things we longed for/ and looked after was to advance learning/ and perpetuate it to posterity/ dreading to leave an illiterate minister/ to the churches when our present ministers/ shall lie in the dust.

On the importance of education, John Adams expressed his feelings this way in a letter to Thomas Jefferson:

“For I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents. Formerly bodily powers gave place among the aristoi. But since the invention of gunpowder has armed the weak as well as the strong with missile death, bodily strength, like beauty, good humor, politeness and other accomplishments, has become but an auxiliary ground of distinction. There is also an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents; for with these it would belong to the first class. The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society. And indeed it would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom enough to manage the concerns of the society.”

Education is the way we discover our virtues, gifts, talents, intellect and excellence. Education informs and animates liberty. In order for America to be a place of natural aristocracy, we must take the time and effort to make those discoveries for ourselves.

I found it interesting that one of the primary purchases by my grandchildren while we were there was a Harvard sweatshirt that was proudly on display as they touched the toe of University Founder John Harvard.

As I circled the monument, I came upon the word VERITAS meaning truth. The original motto of Harvard was Truth for Christ and the Church. Truth was important to these hardy pilgrims. They knew that Jesus words proclaimed, “If ye continue in my word ye are my disciples indeed and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:31-32) and also “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)

In the twentieth century, as Harvard became more secularized, the last part of the phrase was cut so the motto now reads Veritas or “Truth.” Many have become disappointed in the turn to a more secular form of learning and education which leaves Deity completely out.

Because too many today are convinced words are defined by “whatever you believe it to mean,” it is good to revisit a trustworthy definition of the word truth. Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language 1828 defines truth as “Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be.”

Our young guide next took us by Emerson Hall, which houses the Department of Philosophy. She pointed out the building and stated, “Notice what is on top of the building.” It read: What is man, that thou art mindful of him?

“Now that is a deep thought,” she said.

Little did she seem to know that she was pointing out one of the Psalms of David from the Old Testament. Here is how it reads in context. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet…” (Psalm 8)

The accomplishments of man pale in comparison to the infinite creation of Deity.

Everywhere we turned on the campus we found evidence of its historic roots in Christianity, Truth, Beauty and Goodness to fellow man.

I loved visiting Harvard. It made me desire even more to finish my reading of the Harvard Classics mentioned in my prior post. The educational tradition of this institution is epic and notable.

The beauty of the world we live in today is that such an education is within the grasp of every person in the world! These great books and mentors are part of the public domain. Or as I told those two sixth grade boys at the outset of COVID-19 in the post just linked, why wait to go to Harvard!? You can go now! It is education that lifts, inspires and civilizes man to then humbly approach the throne of learning.

The Shot Heard Round the World: Visiting the Birthplace of Our Liberty

“Liberty is the delicate fruit of a mature civilization [beset in every age by its] natural enemies, by ignorance and superstition, by lust of conquest and love of ease, by the strong man’s craving for power, and the poor man’s craving for food…Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.….that dreary and heartbreaking course by which men have passed to freedom, is the story of the deliverance of man from the power of man.”

—Lord Acton from The History of Freedom and Other Essays

Lord Acton, considered to be one of the greatest classical historians of all time, asserts in his writings that the American Revolution was founded on only one idea.

What was that idea? FREEDOM.

At 10 p.m. on April the 18, 1775, British soldiers left Boston to confiscate and destroy illegal weapons stored by the Colonists. These were not just hunting rifles, but cannons, rifles and gunpowder to kill the King’s soldiers. Paul Revere and others set out to warn the Colonists of the opponents’ intentions.

At this point, on the Old Concord Road, ended the midnight ride of Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott. They covered the distance of 25 miles from Boston to Concord in a few hours, alerting all they could along the way.

“The British are coming!”

They alerted many. By 2 a.m. they were met at this bend in the road by a British patrol where they were taken as prisoners to Lexington and released the next morning after which they joined John Hancock and John Adams.

The Minutemen of Acton, Concord, Lincoln, and Bedford

These were men who had been rehearsing and practicing the art of war many months prior to the outbreak of the conflict. At any moment the bells of the church would ring and they would be warned to gather and prepare for battle.

First Parish Church in Lexington

The Minute Man Statue

Captain Isaac Davis indicated of that time, “I haven’t a man that’s afraid to go.” Captain Davis would be one of the first that day to lay down his life for freedom on the first day of the revolution.

The Minuteman National Historical Park marks the starting place of the American Revolution, which began April 19, 1775. Here the resolve of citizens willing to risk their lives for the ideals of liberty and self-determination was instrumental in the formation of the American identity.

Lexington Green is where Colonial militiamen and British soldiers clashed. A force of 700 British Regulars left Boston to seize military supplies stockpiled in Concord. Alarm riders like Paul Revere alerted the countryside and that is how the men were present and prepared to stop the British at 5 a.m. In area towns, militia companies assembled, ready to defend their communities and their liberties if necessary.

The Battle of Lexington—April 19, 1775 by William Barnes Wollen

Jonathan Harrington House, Lexington

Later that day at the North Bridge at 9:30 a.m., 400 minutemen and militia gathered.

Farmers, tradesmen, shopkeepers, and even a few enslaved men accompanying their owners made up this company. They watched and waited as British troops searched the town center. Ninety-six British regulars held the bridge between the center of town and the hillside.

With the sight of smoke rising from the center of town, Lieutenant Joseph Hosmer cried out, “Will you let them burn the town down?” The officers then advanced the men to the bridge to save the town.

As they arrived to cross the bridge, they met some light resistance. Then came the first order to fire by Colonists upon British troops which killed two British soldiers, with a third mortally wounded.

1836 Battle Monument

As the British soldiers marched back toward Boston, Colonial militia companies poured in. Fighting erupted along the “Battle Road” all the way back to Boston from 12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. as nearly 4,000 colonists unleashed fire upon the British Regulars.

At the end of the day, the Colonists surrounded and laid siege to Boston.

“Here began the separation of two kindred nations now happily long united in peace.”       —Allen French

Three companies of British Regulars (about 96 men) guarding the North Bridge opened fire upon 400 Colonists advancing from the opposite side. Major John Buttrick of Concord then issued the fateful command. “Fire, fellow soldiers, for God’s sake fire!”

For the first time, Colonists were ordered to fire upon the army of their King, and, for the first time, they killed British soldiers.

Ralph Waldo Emerson immortalized this event in his 1837 poem “The Concord Hymn.”

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,

Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,

Here once the embattled farmers stood,

And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;

Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;

And Time the ruined bridge has swept

Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,

We set to-day a votive stone;

That memory may their deed redeem,

When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare

To die, and leave their children free,

Bid Time and Nature gently spare

The shaft we raise to them and thee.

The Ralph Waldo Emerson House, Concord

There is a small memorial at the site for the British soldiers saying: “They came three thousand miles, and died, To keep the Past upon its throne: Unheard, beyond the ocean tide, Their English mother made her moan.”

The Grave of British Soldiers at the North Bridge

What were these ideals?

While the Declaration of Independence would not come until 15 months later in Philadelphia the ideals that would buoy it were present from the start.

John Adams expressed his sentiments and thinking of the time this way in a letter to Hezekiah Niles February 13, 1818.

“But what do We mean by the American Revolution? Do We mean the American War? The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the Minds and Hearts of the People…..But when they Saw those Powers renouncing all the Principles of Authority, and bent up on the destruction of all the Securities of their Lives, Liberties and Properties, they thought it their Duty to pray for the Continental Congress and all the thirteen State Congresses, &c.”

In the name of liberty—meaning their traditional liberties as Englishmen—they were willing to go to war against the tyranny of the English Parliamentary government which denied them their right to self-govern, self-defense, and self-determination as they had become accustomed. Community and Colonial unity also informed and animated this cause of action.

The movement toward liberty benefited from superb leadership in John and Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Warren, Richard Henry Lee, George Washington—who took command of the militia and army July 3rd, 1775. These men could articulate the vision. They possessed a bedrock of natural rights and political principles. They held a strong moral compass and sense of justice. They then build a consensus to support the vision.

Sacred to Liberty and the Rights of mankind!!! The Freedom & Independence of America. Sealed and defended with the blood of her sons. The Monument is erected By the inhabitants of Lexington, Under the patronage & at the expense of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, To the memory of heir Fellow Citizens, Ensign Robert Munroe, Mess’s Jonas Parker, Samuel Hadley, Jonathan Harrington Jun., Isaac Muzzy, Caleb Harrington and John Brown of Lexington, & Asahel Porter of Woburn, Who fell on this field, the first Victims to the Sword of British Tyranny & Oppression. On the morning of the ever memorable Nineteenth of April. An. Dom. 1775 The Die was cast!!! The blood of these martyrs. In the cause of God & their Country. Was the Cement of the Union of these States, then Colonies; & gave the spring to the spirit. Firmness And resolution of their Fellow Citizens. They rose as one man, to revenge their brethren’s Blood and at the point of the sword to asset & Defend their native Rights. The nobly dar’d to be free!! The contest was long, bloody & affecting Righteous Heaven approved the solemn appeal; Victory crowned their arms; and The Peace, Liberty & Independence of the United States of America, was their glorious reward. Built in the year 1799.

—Inscription on the Lexington Revolutionary War Monument

To commemorate this day, this flag is now flown on The Lexington Green by law for 24 hours a day 7 days a week—one of the few flags in the United States mandated to do so.

These monuments to “the shot heard round the world” ask us an important question today: do we possess the character, courage and understanding of liberty and freedom to merit them and the price it costs to obtain, retain and defend them?

What a solemn and sobering experience to walk these parks and read these monuments. Remember and reflect on this sacred trust we now hold.