Gratitude or Grievance?

Bona Verba from the Headmaster

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis presents us with an insightful perspective on the human condition as observed by two demons, Screwtape and Wormwood. Their cunning mission is to lead otherwise virtuous individuals astray by diverting their attention towards the minutiae of life, fostering complaints and petty grievances, and ultimately blinding them to the greater good and depriving them of the ability to feel gratitude for life’s true blessings. This concept resonates profoundly in today’s world, particularly in the realm of social media, where the temptation to complain about trivial matters can obscure our vision of the pursuit of goodness, beauty, and truth.

In recent years, the rise of social media platforms, like Facebook, has provided a megaphone for individuals to voice their concerns, criticisms, and complaints about various aspects of their lives, including their children’s schools. It’s not uncommon to witness seemingly minor issues becoming the focal points of impassioned discussions and judgments, often with a fair amount of misinformation thrown in. While concerns and questions about education are valid, the danger lies in the culture of complaint that has emerged. It’s a culture where individuals are quick to judge, seeking validation for their grievances, and often forgetting the tremendous sacrifices educators make for the love of their students.

A culture of complaint has the power to obscure the very virtues that classical schools, including Cincinnati Classical Academy, strive to instill in their students. Consider gratitude and prudence in particular. Gratitude, a virtue that should be nurtured, becomes increasingly elusive when our focus is mired in the trivial. For example, practicing prudence by refraining from dwelling on minor inconveniences or complaints can help us maintain our perspective and better appreciate the pursuit of goodness, beauty, and truth. When we are entangled in minutiae, it becomes difficult to appreciate these higher ideals.

At Cincinnati Classical Academy, our mission is clear: “to develop the minds and nourish the hearts of our students through a content-rich curriculum in the classical liberal arts and sciences with instruction in moral character and civic virtue.” This mission is furthered in part by creating a joyful environment conducive to learning. The classical approach to education involves not only the transmission of knowledge but also the cultivation of character and virtue. It is about order emerging from chaos and the civilizing of young souls, empowering them to flourish as human beings.

The culture of complaint that pervades our society contradicts this mission. It hinders the joyful pursuit of knowledge and the development of moral character. When parents and communities are immersed in petty grievance and judgmentalism, it becomes challenging to foster the very virtues we aim to impart to our students; gratitude and prudence get overshadowed by cynicism and a sense of entitlement.

In the age of information and digital connectivity, it is crucial that we pause and reflect on the impact of the culture of complaint. While voicing concerns and seeking improvements are essential aspects of a vibrant community and a just society, we must not lose sight of the greater good and the pursuit of virtue. Rediscovering gratitude and prudence in education involves a collective effort to shift our focus from the trivial to the substantial, from complaining to celebrating the joys of learning, and from judgment to understanding. It is by embracing these values that we can truly fulfill our mission to develop young minds and nourish their hearts, all the while fostering a culture of joy that promotes human flourishing.

Torches Up!
Michael Rose
Michael Rose - Headmaster

Mr. Michael Rose

Meet the Headmaster

Mr. Rose has taught various courses at Brown University, Cincinnati Moeller, and The Summit Country Day School. As a part of his degree work in education, Mr. Rose’s research interests included the Great Books curriculum, the Paideia teaching method, and the “effects of emerging digital technology on student reading, writing, and researching.” Read More