From The Atlantic by Michael Godsey:
Last week, I observed a high-school English class on a campus without bells. The school didnt need them: Every student showed up for class promptly, and they remained attentive until the last minutewithout packing their books early or lining up at the door. San Luis Obispo Classical Academy (SLOCA) is a private school in Central California that promotes "personal character" and "love of learning," and the tangible difference between this environment and that at the public high school in the area was stunning to meeven though I'm a veteran public-school teacher. And even though my own daughter is in her second year of preschool at SLOCA.

Ive also spent the last four decades exclusively at public schoolseither attending them, coaching at them, or teaching at them. I have dedicated my life to them, as have all of my good friends. I even superficially loathe the local Catholic school for its elitist attitudes and alleged recruiting techniques. But as my daughter embarks on her K-12 journey, my wife and I are leaning toward this small, 322-student private school for one really simple reason: The kids take pride in their personal character, and they admit that they love learning.

My 4-year-old daughter, for now, is just like them. And Ive always found that its exponentially more fun, fulfilling, and productive to engage in activities with other people who have "bought in" to whatever theyre doing with the same level of enthusiasm. For me, this has been true in grad school, baseball practice, watching football on TVanything, really. For my daughter, this happens when shes learning about personification, reciting poetry, and being a good human.

Personally, I was struck by the degree of student buy-in at SLOCAwhich serves just 32 high-school studentscompared to a typical public school nearby. In 90 minutes of observing the private-school class, there were zero interruptions, zero yawns, and zero cell phones. All 15 students, ranging from sophomores to seniors, had their homework successfully reviewed within the first five minutes of class; they all had their pens and notepads in front of them without being asked. As I listened to their interactions, it became clear, too, that they were engaged. They laughed when one of them made a joke about Frederick II being excommunicated a second time, and they lightly knocked on their desks when they liked a classmate's commenta delightful custom I had never heard of. Each of them, moreover, answered a question from the teacher at least twice. Other than these moments, there was no noise, not a single distractionand I was struck by the apparent absence of gender lines or observable differences between the youngest and oldest students in the class. Throughout those 90 minutes, they seemed like a group of old friends, united by a love of learning.

That the teacher was fluent in that days topic, the Holy Roman Empire, was clear in at least two ways: One, she answered every question thoroughly, without hesitation; two, I could actually hear every word she said, in the tone and volume she intended. She didn't have to yell to be heard, and she didn't speak quickly in fear of interruption. She could subtly emphasize certain words, and her jokes landed. Observing this class, I started daydreaming about what, if given the chance, I would teach these kidsnot how I would teach these kids.

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