Skip to content

Self-Mastery: Alvaro de Vicente on Fostering Interior Freedom in Schools

In this week’s episode, we talk with headmaster Alvaro de Vicente about a central theme from our faculty workshop: self-mastery. As Alvaro explains, self-mastery is a certain integration of action, words, thoughts, and desires that gives one the interior freedom to not only do the good but to want to do the good.

What does this self-mastery look like for teachers, for students, and for parents? How do we help our boys develop self-mastery? What is the role of a school in assisting parents with this great endeavor?

As man is not made virtuous in a day, Mr. de Vicente encourages us to think long term. At the same, he reminds us to focus on the little things, those small, daily realities where aspiration becomes actuality. In particular, he suggests dress code, punctuality, and language as three battlefields on which we can wage war alongside our sons—not against them—as they grow in interior freedom.

Self-mastery, Alvaro explains, is not about mastering the world or others. It is rather about mastery of oneself so as to be able to steward the little piece of creation which the Creator has given us. For some, this may be a team. For others, it could be a whole company or even a country. For most, this will be a family, for whom the father has a special kind of care—a care which is best lived out when he recognizes that he is both a father and the Father’s son.


  • 3:44 What is self-mastery?
  • 5:17 The role of the school in developing self-mastery of students
  • 7:47 Practical advice for developing self-mastery in students
    • 9:10 Dress code
    • 12:22 Punctuality
    • 13:17 Language
  • 15:59 School tone and self-mastery
    • 17:41 Advice for teachers
  • 18:02 Armando Valladares and interior freedom
  • 22:07 Trusting our students
  • 25:39 John Henry Cardinal Newman and the education of boys
    • 26:17 Two applications of Newman’s educational philosophy
  • 29:02 Self-mastery and the order of creation
  • 32:47 Living life to the fullest: how self-mastery can help us enjoy life more
  • 34:02 Advice for parents
    • 38:07 Implementing change in the home
  • 42:25 Stories from Alvaro’s upbringing
  • 45:07 Recommended reading
  • 46:37 A question to spark discussion

Also on The Forum

Respectful Dominion: Colin Gleason on Discipline with Colin Gleason

Learn to Turn: Tom Royals on Parental Prudence with Tom Royals

Manners: The Art of Happiness by Robert Greving

Why My Computer Science Students Should Master the Guitar by George Martin

Training the Hand to Train the Mind by Robert Greving

Additional Resources

A Catholic Eton? Newman’s Oratory School by Paul Shrimpton

Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro’s Gulag by Armando Valladares

About the Guest

Alvaro de Vicente

Headmaster, The Heights School

In addition to his responsibilities as headmaster of The Heights, Alvaro acts as a mentor to high schoolers, and teachers senior Apologetics.

Learn More

Subscribe to The Heights Forum Newsletter

I'm interested in content for...
Select if you'd like to receive a monthly newsletter specifically for any of these educator roles.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.