On What is Wrong with Public School & Other Thoughts

January 10, 2011

In my own life, I try to avoid looking at situations from a problematic stand-point, instead I tend to view difficult situations as opportunities to learn and a place from which to begin with fresh understanding and perspective.  In regards to the discussion of where modern education has fallen short and the inevitable consequences which will arise from a fundamental misunderstanding of what our lives should be based upon, I have this to say about where I see our modern education system could improve.

Our society, in its attempt to define itself outside the parameters of godliness and spirituality, has lost the ability to see itself in need of Divine intervention.  Really, in need of a Divine anything.  Rather, any thought process or situation which would cause the modern educator or thinker to begin to evaluate his stance on the origins of man, the elements of nature and even to the exploration of space with anything less than the absolute arrogance that he is able to subjugate all of the previous to his finite will is immediately discarded as irrelevant and mystical.  To be pitied and scorned.   This line of thought is considered unquantifiable and therefore, without meaning or usefulness.

By allowing such mundane arrogance to pervade our schools, we’ve lost the mystery of education in all of its glory and elegance.  We’ve traded delight for due process and discovery of the unknown for clear definition.  We’ve settled for the platonic when God would have a divine romance in store for us filled with the beauty and intricacy of His most spectacular, exquisite plan.  We have distilled what it is to be educated into the most easily digested, most socially acceptable terms and have lost the passion for the unique treasure that sits in front of us fidgeting over untied shoes and chewed-on wooden pencils.  We have lost sight of our humanity.

Instead of seeing an opportunity to broaden horizons, the modern school system has wanted to eliminate the extraordinary and reduce everyone to the lowest common denominator where calling and vision no longer apply, A dry and stingy world where function and usefulness trump creativity.  Every time.

Perhaps, this is not exactly what Ms. Sayers indicated in her essay.  But that resonated most in my reading of it.

I was prompted to re-evaluate my own stance on what it means to learn and why I should bother to continue past the time when all that’s truly required of me is the ability to balance the check book and insure my children are memorizing the times tables.

In spite of the oppression of the ordinary, although it can be a struggle, I do bother to learn more because I am curious about so many things.   There is a wealth of life to be discovered in thousands of years of lives as they have been recorded.  And those voices are especially worth listening to in light of the complicated and godless times we have found ourselves.

The Trivium, as expressed and defined in “The Lost Tools of Learning”, quantifies neatly the transitions from child to adult as well as the proper steps required to cogently determine the value and purpose of a thing or subject.   In explaining this concept to my friends and family, I have often spoken of the Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric phases this way:  Information gathering, Analytical discourse, Definition of Belief when Latin terms make their eyes glaze over.

How often I’ve missed a step in that process and come to an incorrect conclusion based on analyzing only part of the information or, in contrast, finding that I am gathering and analyzing but never allowing myself to form a coherent conclusion.  It is easy for me to see the benefit in raising a child to understand the need for this thought process and the weaknesses we possess, as people, in relying only on the parts of the process with which we are most comfortable.  But recognizing a need isn’t enough.  Taking the steps to require the use of these tools in order to rigorously and faithfully create people with a desire and delight in learning coupled with the ability to do so?

That’s impressive!  That’s time well spent.

These tools, these methods of examination, allow us to begin to see how one subject never truly stands alone.   In fact, as in the Body of Christ, all are inter-connected.   All needing the other to be viewed in context and reflect what I referred to earlier in the intricacy of God’s perfect plan.

In essence, without science, baking bread makes no sense.  Without music, we could not hear the stars.   Without math we wouldn’t even attempt to comprehend the vastness of our physical universe or peek at the mysteries of the unseen laws which govern gravity and motion.