At classical schools throughout the country, one often hears the phrase "cultivating virtue" as a centerpiece of culture for the school. Because of its seeming popularity, this concept begs the question, "why is the study and cultivation of virtue so important today?"

Prior to answering that, however, one must first ask "what is virtue?". Simply stated virtue is a term that implies a life that is marked and reflected by grounding in truth. The etymology of virtue implies moral strength and goodness along with bravery and excellence.

Prior even to Christian moral thought and practice, however, Aristotle in his work Ethics in his description of "happiness". He notes that happiness is "activity of the soul in accord with virtue" and that virtuous living and activity therefore, controls happiness.

This key philosophical thought leads one to seek out what virtues are. Though there is some limited debate on what the actual virtues are, it is important to also remember the existence of specific Christian virtues, including prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.

With all these thoughts, the question regarding why the study and cultivation of virtue are important today remains unanswered.

In terms of a classical and Christian education, schools find themselves at a specific juncture to support – and be supported – by both family and church. Together, all three should continually remind and inform students of right living, grounded in the truths founded in God's Word. All to say, the study and cultivation of virtue are formative and foundational to the Christian life and a classical Christian school serves to provide the ordered time and structure that promotes a life marked by virtue in a community.

Secondly, the cultivation of virtue is a specific phrasing as it points to the idea that the Christian life that is marked by virtue is one that grows throughout one's time on earth. In other words, we are to develop and continue to grow to become more Christ-like.

Why, then, do we cultivate virtue in our students and why is it so important? We wish to impact the world for Jesus Christ and one of the primary ways to do that is to cultivate the desire to honor and glorify Him through a grounding in virtuous living.


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