Ryan Klein Sep 23, 2022

What will Heaven be like? When I ask my middle school students this question, their responses are predictable: “there will be TVs everywhere; I’ll get to play soccer all day; I’ll get as many cookies as I like.” If I ask them whether everyone wants an eternity of soccer and cookies, they usually say, “everyone’s Heaven will be different.” They think that whatever you most desire is what you will get. Heaven will be cookies, for some, dirt biking for others, and time with friends for others. Heaven will cater to our appetites; Heaven transforms to suit us.  

Joshua Gibbs Sep 23, 2022

At some point in the late seventeenth century, European Christians began to wonder if religion was more trouble than it was worth. After seeing battle lines drawn along denominational lines for more than a century, the common man was exhausted by religious diversity and had begun to yearn for a public square (and city hall) where everyone simply agreed to not talk about their religion. Thus secularism was born, and religion has been seen ever since as a problem to overcome, not an asset to depend on.

Rachel Woodham Sep 19, 2022

My first year teaching at a classical school was a uniquely challenging year. I knew very little about classical education. Though I had years of experience teaching English as a second language overseas, neither this experience nor my degree in Russian prepared me to teach classically. When the school year began my firstborn was not yet one; by midyear, I was pregnant. The headmaster announced his resignation, and the school threatened to close. I was just trying to keep my head above water.

Joshua Gibbs Sep 15, 2022

In the last several years, your school may have developed a “vacation problem,” as a friend recently put it. A “vacation problem” is a tendency among school families to take long vacations in the middle of the school year. Your school may have had vacation issues prior to 2020, but pandemic policies inevitably led many families to take a much looser stance toward school attendance. For the last two years, many in-person classes were also available online, which meant a time share in Florida was just as likely as a positive COVID test to make a student absent for a week.

Lee Chemin Sep 12, 2022

I am told my three month old is “attentive.” For a baby, that of course means she can focus on a black- and-white picture of squiggly waves for 30 seconds instead of 15, and can coo at a blue plastic monkey toy until she realizes she is more hungry than she is entertained. She also notices attention deficits. For example, when I transfer my attention from her to my smartphone, she cries loudly to let me know where I should rightly be focused. The first time this happened, I experimented a little to make sure it was the phone sending her into paroxysms of distress.

Joshua Gibbs Sep 9, 2022

I think it takes a full year to really get to know a student, which means I’m bidding my students farewell at about the point I actually understand them. There may be a few chatty students I meet with outside of class whom I get to know earlier than May, but there are far more students who say little over the course of the year and thus always remain a mystery to me.

Rachel Woodham Sep 7, 2022

Yesterday we visited a local music store to add a third (and final) tiny violin to our household. The family orchestra has expanded from a duo to a trio. Early this morning, as I sipped coffee and worked on an essay for graduate school, a cacophony arose from the schoolroom. It is usually the hour that I hear my oldest practicing his scales or playing my favorite Hungarian Dance by Brahms. Today, I heard two different songs played simultaneously, with intermittent screeches from the tiny violin. Exhaling, I remembered that Plato is to blame.

Renee Mathis Aug 31, 2022

At this point in the school year, everything feels new: new books, new lesson plans, perhaps new grade levels, and new students. Sometimes those fresh faces are the ones we are related to; even our own children can present unfamiliar challenges and seem to have become new people over the summer months. And then there are the newcomers you’ve never met before. Some of them may be destined to become lifelong friends, the ones who make that indelible impression on our hearts. 

Dr. Matthew Bianco Aug 26, 2022

Anyone who has been around the CiRCE website or social media long enough knows that one of our most prolific and popular and controversial writers is the inimitable Joshua Gibbs, the man whose beard is an emblem of his writing. His beard is as long as a list of his contributions, and his contributions are—often—as knotty as his beard. It doesn't happen very often, but every once in a while a post of his will spark some controversy in the world of social media that inevitably leads someone to comment, "Come on, CiRCE.

Joshua Gibbs Aug 23, 2022

At the beginning of the school year, I hand out a document to all my students that I call “the decorum,” a set of classroom rules regarding student behavior. From one year to the next, most of the decorum remains the same, although in recent years I have made the following addition.

Do not email me. The only reason you may email me is to tell me you will not be in class the following day. For every other reason (including scheduling meetings with me), you must speak with me in person. I do not respond to any other emails from students.