Recently I have been researching classical academies and, God willing, may even help start one someday. Here is a cover letter to one such institution that will help you see where my mind has been lately regarding American education at the K12 level:
Greetings! I am Dr. James B. Carter, and this note is to express interest in working with you in a virtual capacity. I am a lifelong educator currently living in Boone, North Carolina. I started tutoring in 1996 and started teaching in 1999. I have earned teaching certifications across several states in middle school English Language Arts, high school English, K12 ELL, K12 Gifted, and in K12 Reading. Along with my K12 experiences, I have taught college courses in both English departments and Education programs. These courses range from literacy methods courses to courses on popular culture. I am a parent to two teenage boys, one who requires special attention due to autism and severe depression. I have seen what American public schools have done to distort learning, to distort parental agency, and to distort what it means to be compassionate, empathetic, and mentally, socially, and emotionally healthy.
I believe wholeheartedly that both religious and secular Classical Education constitute the remedy to such revision, which is rooted, essentially, in anti-American, anti-logic pretenses. To preserve the best of American culture while working to improve what needs improving, Americans must educate their children to see the best of what their country has accomplished while recognizing there remains areas of improvement (elements of the “promissory note” that have yet to be fully realized); we must return to a knowledge-based system of education since primary knowledge is foundational to everything else; we must help our children reclaim a real “critical” stance: The ability to hold multiple competing thoughts and perspectives at once and to be capable of sifting through the ones that are inherently flawed. I am excited to help in all those capacities. Passionate, really. Indeed, at one time, I was constructing a board for a Barney Charter School in North Carolina, but family matters put that on hold. Facilitating the development of deep-thinking, critical thinking, considerate, giving young people is a monumental task, but such an essential one. To move education from a vapid “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink” enterprise, one must work to create intrepid and informed sojourners who are confident in joining the ranks of pragmatic change agents who have worked with the confidence that they are extending the efforts of those who acknowledged the greatness of human potential and realization that came before them, and, therefore, are less likely to cower in the face of ignorant – sometimes willfully ignorant – radicalism, even if it comes from the State. A difficult task, to be sure, but “that a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a Heaven for?”
I am a first-generation college student who rose from a working poor family to earn a PhD from a Public Ivy, the University of Virginia. I graduated from public schools and universities. That does not mean I have no Classical education: I was that kid who read encyclopedias for fun, who studied the Renaissance masters even before there were turtles named after them, who made a decision at age twelve that he would work toward being a Renaissance Man and would one day attend President Jefferson’s university. I studied literature, art, and music in high school and as an undergraduate, and one reason I went into teaching is because I love helping others appreciate the humanities as a means of centering greatness (not Whiteness, not Blackness) in their own lives to glean wisdom from the accomplishments and mistakes of impressive, amazing, yet still inherently flawed people.
I consider myself to be a pro-Humanism, open-minded Christian Conservative/Classical Liberal. I believe in Neoclassical ideas and want to see them infused with multiculturalism. I know that “neoclassical” and “multiculturism” are considered passé – bigoted, even – by many on the Left (As someone who worked in K12- and Higher Education/Teacher Education, I know the pain of dealing with a majority that thinks that way). Indeed, my evolution from progressive to Classical Liberal has seeds in noting the impropriety and logic breakdowns of my professors while a doctoral student, of my peers when I was an NEA member, and of my administrative education “leaders” (K12 principals and college deans) who bought into bad ideas, often more for the sake of their own careers than their students.
I would love to be part of a team that understands our current educational exigency and is working actively to be a remedy to our contemporary pedagogical crises and a stalwart presence once we have remedied.
James B. Carter, PhD.