Teaching: A Professional Vocation

“The mind,” Plutarch wrote, “is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.” The teacher’s job, then, is not so much transferring data about the world from his mind to the students, but leading them to fall in love with the world that they see as good. The same is true for preparing teachers: what is needed is to light a fire. 

There is no better man to light such a fire for the teaching vocation than Heights Headmaster Alvaro de Vicente. In this week’s episode, Mr. de Vicente addresses the attendees of the 2022 Teaching Vocation Conference, introducing them to teaching as a vocation and a profession. He offers his thoughts on what it means for work to be a vocation, what it means for work to be a profession, and why it is that teachers are called to work that is both a profession and a vocation. Finally, our headmaster shares his thoughts on how we can tell whether the classroom is for us, or rather, whether we have been made for the classroom.

Interested in attending the next Teaching Vocation Conference? Register here.


  • 3:05 Introduction to the topic
  • 4:07 What is teaching?
  • 7:52 Out of intellectual ignorance, but also moral ignorance 
  • 12:55 Every school teaches morality 
  • 16:00 What is a vocation?
  • 22:35 The vocation of a teacher 
  • 27:18 Not a bad audience: you, your pupils, your friends, God 
  • 29:30 The need for teachers
  • 30:10 The field of life 
  • 32:15 The need for male teachers 
  • 32:35 Discerning the teaching vocation 

Also on the Forum 

Guidance for Aspiring Teachers with Alvaro de Vicente

On Preparation for Teaching: Six Attributes of Great Teachers with Colin Gleason

Why Teach? An Introduction to the Teaching Vocation with Rich Moss

The Art of Teaching with Rich Moss

Alvaro de Vicente

About the guest:

Alvaro de Vicente

Alvaro de Vicente has served as Headmaster of The Heights School in Potomac, Maryland since July 2002. Originally from Santander, Spain, Alvaro received some of his secondary education at The Heights and graduated from there in 1983. In 1987 he graduated cum laude from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Philosophy and received his J.D. from Georgetown University School of Law in 1991. As Executive Director of the Tenley Study Center from 1989 to 2002, he organized and managed supplemental development programs to several hundred students and professionals per year. Several of the Center’s programs were replicated and became standard programs for other supplemental education centers in the United States and abroad. While employed full-time by the Tenley Study Center, Mr. de Vicente offered his services on a part-time basis to The Heights School. Between 1992 and 2002, Mr. de Vicente assisted the School in various positions; coaching, establishing and running its college counseling office, school administrator overseeing contracts with vendors, and student advisor. From 1995 to 2001, Mr. de Vicente served on The Heights School’s Board of Directors, the last four years as its vice-president. In addition, Mr. de Vicente also serves on the Board of Trustees of two other educational groups; the Youth Leadership Foundation and the Texas Education Works. In his capacity as Headmaster of The Heights School he spearheaded and supervised the construction of the School’s signature building. But Mr. de Vicente’s most important work is in the classroom where he teaches Catholic Apologetics and in mentoring students daily.

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