Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – We have education systems today and we all agree the education is not to make better Christian young men and women of great virtue and great promise and great potential. We have an education system that is designed and specifically and explicitly constructed to do what? Train the next generation of workers. We all say it all the time. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: I want to do two paragraphs of a great post at the Imaginative Conservative site yesterday by Stratford Caldecott. It’s called “The Question of Purpose.” I think Caldecott summarizes a little bit of what I just talked about in a couple sentences.
Our society, indeed what remains of Western civilization, seems to many people to be falling apart. The economic crisis, the moral crisis, the ecological crisis, and the political crisis combine to create a “perfect storm”. But they all stem from one fundamental error. As a society, we have abandoned a sense of cosmic and moral order for the sake of unlimited growth and progress towards an entirely man-made universe.
Mike: Boy, that’s true! I think it’s true. As a matter of fact, this has been the crux of many an argument on this radio show. That is precisely correct. The world that man has created is far superior to the one that God created and we once lived under and feared the wrath of that transcendent. He continues:
A similar process underlies another crisis, the fifth crisis, that of education. It has the same root as the others. Education is in crisis not merely because standards of literacy or mathematics have fallen, but because we have no coherent vision, as a society, of what education is for or what it is meant to achieve. We have assumed that, if it is not merely a cage to keep our young people off the streets, its purpose is to train workers in the great economic machine, the same machine that we hope will produce endless growth. But we cannot know what education is for, since we have no idea any longer what man is for, or what a human being actually is.
As Frank Sheed once put it: “This question of purpose is a point overlooked in most educational discussions, yet it is quite primary. How can you fit a man’s mind for living if you do not know what the purpose of man’s life is?” We need a philosophy of education based on an adequate “anthropology” or picture of man, if we are to put education back on the right track.
The Catholic tradition – and more broadly the great tradition of Western civilization – defined humane learning in terms of what became known as the “Liberal Arts”. As described by St Augustine and others, these consisted of seven fields of study, grouped as three arts of language, and four cosmological arts. The first group or Trivium consisted of Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric; the second, the Quadrivium, of Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy. Both sets of arts were intended to be preparatory to the higher studies of Philosophy and Theology – that is, the love of Wisdom (philo-sophia) and the knowledge of God (theo-logos)…
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The Liberal Arts constituted the core curriculum at the heart of the classical and medieval educational system.
Mike: That is some profound stuff. I challenge you, that’s right challenge you, to read the rest of it in today’s Pile of Prep, Stratford Caldecott in the basis of the liberal arts education and how it is that you cannot ever hope to reform or repair an educational system that is not designed to do much of what was classically defined as education. We have education systems today and we all agree the education is not to make better Christian young men and women of great virtue and great promise and great potential. We have an education system that is designed and specifically and explicitly constructed to do what? Train the next generation of workers. We all say it all the time. [mocking] “If you don’t have an education, your chances of getting jobs are small. If you didn’t go to this school and get an education, you’re never gonna qualify for that position.” It’s all about economic progress.
It is not about thought process. It is not about the philosophy. It’s not about the study or reason of why we are here, and maybe that purpose remains mysterious but there are answers that a belief in the transcendent can supply. The men that stepped outside of the box and began this great journey of experimentation in science were all raised and reared in these classical forms. I can’t say all of them because there are some that are expounding upon those other works, but who’s to say that the expansion of those works never happened unless the first flight or the first acts of recorded brilliance don’t occur? We’re talking about Newton and St. Thomas Aquinas and those that inspired entire generations and continents of young men to want to attend and for their parents to want for them to attend these universities where they would learn the classical liberal arts.
The question that Caldecott is asking, and his answer if you read the essay, I think is a large part of any effort, not a large part, it is the principle part of any effort, if there really is a well-intentioned and committed-to effort to fix or restore educational integrity. I don’t believe, at the same time, that this is a problem that is limited to this particular set of sovereign states organized under the style of the United States of America. This, to me, is pretty much worldwide, although there are places where the education that he mentioned is available. This is why, I think, that the homeschooling movement and the movement away from the results-based education and towards the content or quality and study method of classical education is beginning to be talked about again, and being talked about seriously by people, not just talked about because it was eschewed in favor of the grand experiment known as the public school system.
As Jeff Daniels pointed out in that clip that I played from Newsroom, I think that the results are undeniable. The results of all this are all around us to see. All you have to do is tune into any American political election to hear just how rotten our educational state of affairs has become. Is that not the common experience of the people of these United States?
End Mike Church Show Transcript