The mission of the Ridgeview Classical Institute is inseparable from Ridgeview Classical Schools. The success of the former depends upon the past, present, and future success of the latter. Ridgeview Classical Schools was designed not only from a desire to create genuine alternatives in schooling, but to inspire others across the nation to demand more from their children's education. It is this spirit and zeal for reform that has allowed Ridgeview's founders and staff to offer informal assistance to all those who came with heartfelt enquiries about Ridgeview's approach to education. The objective of the Institute is to professionalize and optimize the way this information is conveyed. Regardless of the gloss the Institute brings to the mission of Ridgeview Classical Schools, the central focus is, and will remain, offering the best possible education to every student. Success in this regard will be met as we define it: by a student's orientation toward the good, the true, and the beautiful.
Though what we do has been forgotten, it is not new. Though the project of our school is to rebuild, the project of our institute is to remind, restore, and bring to life again the education that shaped America's Founders and has been an ideal across centuries of Western civilization. In short, the project of the Institute is to revive a manner of education that has been progressively eroded since the 1920s. What the Institute seeks is a general reawakening to the purposes of a public education, and yet it is not a rewinding of the clock or a return to antiquity. It does not espouse the rejection of technology, or math, or science, or a return of subjection, bigotry, or the prejudices of a century or more ago. It does aspire to recollect the best that has been, to task intelligent and talented teachers with presenting this material passionately, and providing a means of transmitting the intellectual and cultural inheritance of a people to a new generation of Americans.
To the extent that this is a revival, it is not a rebuilding. We are not offering a new culture, but the remembrance of a timeless one that guides us despite our being largely unconscious of it. We advocate a classical ideal: the unexamined life is not worth living, and offer our students the lessons necessary to examine their lives. We are preparing them not only for a job, or a career, or some future task - we are preparing them for life as citizens of a powerful and yet curiously fragile republic. Classical, in this sense, is conservative only to the extent that such an education attempts to conserve noble traditions, great works, and all that is best. For students to grasp these lessons, they must be confronted with a serious examination of their ideas possible only through Socratic dialogue. This approach balances ambition with humility: it recognizes that though current generations have achieved much that all generations stand atop the shoulders of giants. It is to recognize that to teach values instead of virtues is to fall into the relativist trap, and that if we wish for students to be respectful of principles, they must be raised with an appreciation of virtues. This is the manner in which we understand the term classical.
We cannot know in advance the careers our students will choose, but we know that virtually every one of them will in time become a citizen of the United States. The rights gained through citizenship entail duties that are performed pitifully if performed thoughtlessly. In order for these rights to be exercised with prudence and temperance, and for these duties to be performed with courage and valor, an education provided at the public's expense must offer individuals a rigorous training in responsible citizenship. Ridgeview places a strong emphasis on the Founders and on American History, Government, and Literature. The Latin derivation of the word "education" relates to a "leading out." Education, in whatever guise, is an attempt to lead out of ignorance, but it leads individuals into something - a society. A part of Ridgeview's duty is to prepare individuals to become a part of this society.