March 25, 2014 by k. liz
I have re-started reading a book that I started a couple of months ago and never finished. I’m really excited about it, and though it isn’t an educational book, there were some really profound thoughts in the opening chapters that are going to hopefully develop into some more substantial posts on here in the next couple of months. These are actually two thoughts that I’ve blogged about before, and I’m excited to revisit and delve into a bit more deeply and hopefully more maturely. So . . . I thought today I’d share a couple of quotes with you to give you a glimpse of where I’ll be heading in the next few posts on this blog.
On Values & Morals in the Classroom
The authors of The Green Book, whom he [C.S. Lewis] chose as his sparring partners, state that when we make a value statement about something in the world, we are not actually speaking about the thing itself, but instead making a statement about our own subjective feelings. In other words, when we stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon and exclaim, “That is glorious!” we are not really commenting about the canyon; rather we are simply communicating that we have feelings associated in our minds with the word “glory.” What’s more, due to the modern quest (some might say lust) for “objectivity,” statements about our subjective impressions are insignificant and easily dismissed as mere opinion with nothing of value to offer the world.
A student who thus begins to assume this fact-value distinction will begin to display two traits that are harmful to himself and to society. First, he will begin to view ordinary human emotions disdainfully. He will look down his nose at a mother who is delighted by her children or an old man who tears up when the national anthem is played. Second, this disdain of ordinary emotions will be accompanied by a decreasing practice of classical virtues like courage, sacrifice, and honor.
And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive,’ or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity.’ (C.S. Lewis)
So, this thought process makes me wonder how education that values objectivity so highly, or as some say, neutrality, is going to impact our societies. How will we as educators change culture by the way that we foster “open-mindedness” or “individualism” in the classroom?
Education as Discourse Training
This is something that I have been mulling on for the last couple of years. In brief (because I know that maybe my phrasing isn’t universal) what I mean by education as discourse training is this: education’s primary goal is to train students, not to memorize facts or complete projects, but to be able to discern how to act and speak in life scenarios and why such behavior is expected in those scenarios.
Maybe I should work on my wording of that, because maybe it’s still not clear. But, we’ll work on that in future posts. For now, here’s the quote that’s made me think about this again,
Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought.
The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking,disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting, and hateful. (C.S. Lewis)
So, what’s had you pondering recently? Any thoughts on these?
*All quotes in this post are taken from Live Like A Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chroniclesby Joe Rigney.