“Who am I?”: The Question of Persona

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The Art of Teaching: A Conference for Teaching Men


November 9-11 • The Heights School, Potomac, MD

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Growing up is, at least in part, a process of learning to ask, and learning to answer, certain fundamental questions. These include timeless queries such as “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” Our sons, in particular, might ask themselves, “What does it mean to be a man?” and “What is the point of my life right now, given that I’m not a man yet?”

Our boys’ attempts to answer these questions, along with the answers those efforts yield, will lead them to a certain self-awareness—an identity of sorts. Ultimately, we want our boys to know themselves as they are: beloved sons of a Creator God who loves them deeply as a Father. Their lives, then, become an adventure of deepening in that awareness and of living accordingly. The earlier our lads can start down this path, the better.

In this episode, our headmaster explores:

  1. How we all develop self-awareness
  2. How our boys, in particular, do this, especially by means of a “persona”
  3. How we, as parents, can foster a healthy persona in our sons.

As the great sage, Yogi Berra, reminds us: you’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.  This advice is true enough, but we can add that if you don’t get going, you never will.  So, let us not be paralyzed by perfection.  As we help our sons sail out of port, we can trust that with the help of good friends, good teachers, and the Good God Himself, it won’t be too long before he finds himself—and, even better, gives that self away out of love for the other.  

Chapters

  • 2:50 Introduction 
  • 5:44 The Anxiety of Not Knowing Where to Go 
  • 9:22 Lecture Outline
  • 10:15 How Your Discover Your Who Your Are
    • 11:10 The Inward Way: Learning About Ourselves by Self-examination 
    • 16:35 The Outward Way: Learning About Ourselves by Interacting with Others
  • 20:45 How a Young Man Navigates Identity Today 
    • 20:58 Comfort in Numbers 
    • 29:21 Developing a Persona 
  • 32:51 What Parents and Teachers Can Do to Help Boys Develop a Healthy Sense of Self 
    • 33:05 Identify and Guide the Persona 
    • 39:29 Show Boys Their Deeper Layers 
    • 47:52 The Power of Example 
  • 52:56 Conclusion: Why You Should Not Worry

Also on The Forum

Mr. Alvaro de Vicente on Moral Imagination: Part I 

Mr. Alvaro de Vicente on Moral Imagination: Part II

The Issue of Identity: Who does your son think he is? By Mr. 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.