APEX Philosophy

“One cannot pursue one’s own highest good without at the same time necessarily promoting the good of others.”

– Epictetus, The Art of Living

Classical education is directed toward human flourishing. Leadership within that context calls on every member of the community to be oriented toward the good. This places a unique burden on the school leader to understand not only what it means to be happy, in the Aristotelian sense, but also what it means to create a community that cultivates human flourishing. The APEX program assumes that participants have some understanding of the classical tradition, and working in a Great Hearts school or attending the Great Hearts Academy for Classical Teachers can be good first steps in studying that tradition.

“We must … receive glory from [our mentors], together with their goodwill and friendship, since, as Plato says, people cannot be good leaders unless they have first been good servants.”

– Plutarch, “How to Be a Good Leader”

With Plutarch, we agree that an optimal preparation for leadership entails service under a strong leader, watching and learning, progressively gaining the experience that prepares one for taking the helm “just as ivy intertwines itself with strong trees and climbs upwards with them.” The APEX program provides a series of courses, and no such series is sufficient to prepare an individual to lead a school; practical experiences of leadership and a mentor relationship are optimal. The program does not provide those to a sufficient degree to prepare a school leader, so a connection to a school and to a mentor is an essential to which a participant must have access. In addition, we do not recommend that anyone undertake the program until one has devoted oneself to the craft of teaching for one to three years.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

– Peter Drucker, Technology and Culture

School leadership is a practical realm that exercises practical understanding in cultivating culture among students, teachers, and families. We believe that a school’s excellence is a product of connecting vision to operations and that the primary determinant of excellence is a strong faculty, a team hired and coached toward furthering the school’s mission while providing excellent instruction. The APEX program cultivates an understanding of each of these spheres of activity through short courses with specific areas of focus that can be completed alongside one’s work in the busy life of a school.

Participants will read excerpts from great works by Aristotle, Plutarch, Shakespeare, and others. Those works assist the prospective leader in developing a philosophical understanding of the principles of goodness, leadership, and human flourishing. Participants will also read excerpts from contemporary works regarding hiring, managing teams, and developing culture in a contemporary context. In addition to these two resources, participants will engage with our case studies that derive from the Great Hearts network’s decades of developing and managing schools and cultivating the hearts and minds of students through the pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.