Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Education is a Life
"No phrase is more common and more promising than, 'I have an idea'; we rise to such an opening as trout to a well-chosen fly"
- Charlotte Mason
For most of our school years, we are handed information in the form of tiny slips of paper
called facts. We take this little bit and file it away. 'The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776." - and we place it in our American History file. "The name of the father in To Kill a Mockingbird is Atticus Finch." And so we go. After awhile, our mental filing cabinet is quite full. We find ourselves becoming more and more capable with games such as Trivial Pursuit and Jeopardy. But, how else do these facts serve us? Have they affected us as persons? Have they spurred us on toward greater personal growth?
The answer is a resounding, "nothing, not at all, no." For, in the words of Charlotte Mason,
"mere information is to it (the mind) as a meal of sawdust to the body;" And, true growth comes only from exposure to great ideas. What if we not only knew when the Declaration of Independence was signed, but we had a connection with the person of John Adams - we remembered the passion involved in the events leading up to this moment and had a sense of the atmosphere of that very room. What if those ideas spurred us to a life of public service and the pursuit of liberty?
You see, if education is to be affective at all, it must be rich in a wide variety of ideas. Now, before we busy ourselves with thinking that we can use these ideas to control who children will become, we must take a step back.
"Probably he will reject nine-tenths of the ideas we offer, as he makes use of only a small proportion of his bodily food, rejecting the rest. He is an eclectic; he may choose this or that; our business is to supply him with due abundance and variety and his to take what he needs."
So, we never know which idea will strike him - which idea may become the guiding idea for his own life. Yes, he needs to know data. But, even more importantly, students and adults alike need regular inspiration found in the best books, music, art and nature. This is how education moves from mere information to formation. A well educated person has relationships with a wide variety of subjects and is always eager to learn more.