This is a Convocation Address I gave at Providence Classical Christian School where my son is in 1st Grade.
Finally, thankfully, heroically, hereitisatlastedly, summer is over and school is back in session! I know you’re stoked, you’ve all been waiting for it, for true rest, for contemplation, for composed engagement, for leisure. Welcome back to school. I hope you brought your leisure suits. What am I talking about? We get our word “school” from the Latin word—who knows it?!—schola, and that from the Greek word skole which is the word for leisure.
How do you get from school to leisure? Who would ever equate the two? In his essay Leisure, The Basis of Culture Joseph Pieper reminded the post WWII Germans who brooded on the all the work they had to do in order to rebuild their country that “we work in order to have leisure”, and this leisure was not an idleness or laziness as we would understand the term today. Pieper says “Leisure is a receptive attitude of mind, a contemplative attitude, and is not only the occasion but also the capacity for steeping oneself in the whole of the creation.” Leisure is what is required at school: attentiveness, inquisitiveness, joy, desire, interest, diligence, curiosity, soul and humor. Leisure is the taking in of creation, of gaining knowledge and wisdom through experience of the world that reveals the person and work of God. School is not for work, but work for school. This is why, part of the reason at least, your parents are working, right? To pay for this! So you can prepare not just to do a job, but to live a life. If life is more than working a job, then education is far bigger than getting ready to work that job. (more…)