Saturday, September 05, 2009

Training up human beings

The new school year begins for me this coming week, and I've been gearing up. A few excellent resources I've run across lately have helped me get my mind focused on the work ahead.

There is an excellent essay by George Grant here. I plan to share this with my students at the beginning of our first class together. He says in part:
Arthur Quiller-Couch, the mentor of a host of literary luminaries including C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, Maurice Baring, and Dorothy Sayers once described what we have received in this fashion, “You are indeed the heirs of a remarkable legacy--a legacy that has passed into your hands after no little tumult and travail; a legacy that is the happy result of sacrificial human relations, no less than of stupendous human achievements; a legacy that demands of you a lifetime of vigilance and diligence so that you may in turn pass the fruits of Christian civilization on to succeeding generations. This is the essence of the biblical view, the covenantal view, and the classical view of education. This is the great legacy of truth which you are now the chief beneficiaries.”

I'm hoping that will help provide motivation for self-learning this year! I've also just read an excellent article by Jeff Baldwin on the Socratic method of teaching and why it's important. You can read the whole thing here, but he says in part:
But ultimately we want to train up human beings, not parrots. Although the passive approach to education is challenging at the grammar stage, it invites laziness in the logic and rhetoric stages. Students need only parrot in the grammar stage, but as we become adults we need to learn to learn for ourselves. In essence, that’s what education is. “For the sole true end of education is simply this” writes Dorothy Sayers: “to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.” The best minds are not the minds that have absorbed the most facts—the best minds are the minds that can identify and own truth, incorporating that truth into their lives.

What’s being said here is not radical. Any Christian parent, given a moment’s reflection, would agree that the ultimate purpose of education is to train the student to own his Christian faith for himself—that is, to think and live like Jesus Christ.

This dove-tails nicely with a short post I read yesterday from Randy Greenwald here. indoctrination, indeed!

And if you are reading this post on Saturday morning or early afternoon, Gentle Reader, would you please pray for my ds Ben, who is even now sitting in his PhD comprehensive exam in Greek Literature? The jury duty is over, the car is still not fixed, and yesterday he dropped and broke his cell phone. It's been some week for him. Please pray for his focus and success. I am sure God has his own training rpogram going for Ben. Thanks!

No comments: