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My Haverford experience
Aaron MacLean

Haverford is certainly the most remarkable school--and among the most remarkable educational institutions, bar none--that I've had the pleasure of visiting. Coming up from Washington for a day for the pleasurable task of being Haverford's Honor Day speaker, my morning began with a tour from a knowledgable and engaged young man, a senior, who had already been accepted at the University of Virginia and was hoping to hear more good news from the likes of Harvard and a few other places. As my guide showed me around the beautiful grounds, the sun-flooded shop classroom (more accurate to call it an engineering facility, from what I saw) the well-appointed library, and more, I felt duty-bound to let him know that no matter where he went for college, this was as good it was going to get.

The students in the leadership class peppered me with questions about the 2016 race and what the results would mean for American policy at home and abroad going forward. Their sophisticated inquiries had me stumped a few times, because they were posing the kinds of live questions that policymakers and pundits in Washington actually wrestle with.

But it wasn't just the physical beauty of the school that struck me. I had the opportunity to sit in on both a leadership class and a period of Latin instruction before giving my remarks to the Upper School students. The students in the leadership class peppered me with questions about the 2016 race and what the results would mean for American policy at home and abroad going forward. Their sophisticated inquiries had me stumped a few times, because they were posing the kinds of live questions that policymakers and pundits in Washington actually wrestle with. Imagine my surprise when, upon leaving the classroom, I was told the students were freshmen!

... here it was the quality of the teaching that couldn't be ignored. Ms Sara Adkins was leading the class in a vocabulary lesson when I arrived ... not content with working through the usual repetition of vocab-grammar-exercises that characterize 99.9% of language classes elsewhere in the world, this teacher was simultaneously teaching the history of the Roman Republic over the course of the semester, integrating each lesson into that chronology--including today's vocabulary lesson, on terms that describe Roman statesmen.

The Latin class's students were also impressive, but here it was the quality of the teaching that couldn't be ignored. Ms. Sara Adkins was leading the class in a vocabulary lesson when I arrived, which of course is standard enough. But it dawned on me as I watched that, not content with working through the usual repetition of vocab-grammar-exercises that characterize 99.9% of language classes elsewhere in the world, this teacher was simultaneously teaching the history of the Roman Republic over the course of the semester, integrating each lesson into that chronology--including today's vocabulary lesson, on terms that describe Roman statesmen.

This naturally sparked a conversation on the nature of ancient politics versus our own. Ms. Adkins' energy and the sophistication and ambition of her lesson plan were quite marvelous.

I've been lucky in my own education--but I have never seen a school like this.

- Aaron MacLean

Aaron MacLean is the managing editor of the Washington Free Beacon. A combat Marine veteran, he was educated at St. John's College, Annapolis, and Balliol College, Oxford. He served as an infantry officer in Afghanistan, and his final assignment in the Marine Corps was teaching English literature at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he was the 2013 recipient of the Apgar Award for excellence in teaching. Aaron is a 2016 Next Generation National Security Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, and has been a Novak Fellow, a Claremont Lincoln Fellow, a Marshall Scholar, and a Boren Scholar.

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