Reintroducing Athena

By Chandra Chandhok 2021-01-29

“Do not train youth to learning by force or harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so you may discover with accuracy the regular bent of the genius of each…”

–Plato, The Republic

¨… Μή τοίνυν βία είπον, ώ άρεστε, τούς παίδας εν τοίς μαθήμασιν αλλά παιζοντας τρέφε, ίνα καί μάλλον οίός τής καθαραν έφ ο έκαστος πέφυκεν  …¨ 

-Πλάτων, Πολιτεία

Welcome to Athena Education, an academy that transforms youth into the fine young leaders of tomorrow. Nowadays, the concept of an ‘academy’ is laden with the heritage of European cultural history extending back over more than five hundred years. The word conjures images of a large building of classical beauty, a pillared portico, topped with a tympanum-style gable, upon which pose the Muses; it contains spacious halls, richly adorned with artworks, a magnificent library where figures pore over bulky folios, writing upon piles of paper—and above all, a reverent silence, in which one can almost feel the spirit of work.

At Athena, while we may lack towering marble columns (for now), our ethos is heavily influenced by the Greco-Roman tradition of education. For as our scholars dream of admission to the universities and colleges of the West, they must embrace the virtues upon which those institutions were founded. We need only to look to any US college to encounter ancient western civilizations’ very modern presence; whether you find yourself living in Sigma Alpha Epsilon, studying a course curriculum, participating in an Olympiad or Symposium, graduating summa cum laude, or becoming an alumna or alumnus, the vestiges of Greek and Latin are as ubiquitous as olive trees in the Mediterranean. So if one hopes to apply to any of these schools, one must speak their language, or at least understand their philosophy. 

In ancient Athens, education was an essential component of a person’s identity—males and non-slaves that is. Now, while Athena has certainly evolved past this exclusivity, we still draw heavily from Socrates’ sophistic movement, focusing on fields of study including mathematics, astronomy, politics, fine arts, music, rhetoric, and dialectic—the true liberal arts—all with an emphasis on the development of philosophical insight. We strive to create a college-esque atmosphere, so ingrained in the principles of the liberal arts that students come to embrace it; STEM students revel in the creative freedom of the humanities, while humanities students immerse themselves in the analysis of the hard sciences. And most importantly, they all are deeply committed to service, not just for college applications, but also to step outside themselves, realizing that all lives in a community are intertwined—when even one frays, the fabric of society is in tatters. In doing so, they grow to be critical and innovative thinkers, well-rounded and prepared with this holistic approach to emerge from the chrysalis of adolescence, unfurl their wings, and, with excellence and character, achieve heights heretofore unimaginable. 

Indeed, no individual can fulfill their true potential, without an awareness of self. Athena’s guiding philosophy (and one of the three Delphic maxims) is ‘Know Thyself.’  While the norm of self-knowledge has come and gone through Western history, our academy places introspection at its center, for the unexamined life, in Socrates’ words, is not worth living. Through countless injunctions to examine their own contradictions, their vulnerabilities, their insecurities, their Achilles’ heels, their deep, driving desires, we allow students to inch closer to understanding the nature of a human being. Syllogistically, understanding oneself would enable thyself to understand others as a result. Our talented Mentors accompany scholars on an Odyssey to self-discovery, one that never truly ends.

Welcome to Athena Education, a place where each student cultivates independence of mind, the challenging of assumptions, even respectful disagreement among peers. Athena alumni are accepted by the finest colleges in the land and go on to distinguish themselves in their fields. Beyond that, they grow into the torch-bearers of change, dharma, and a life lived by principles.