Thursday, May 29, 2008

Education in Sand

From Jacques Maritain, Education at the Crossroads (Humanities and Liberal Education)

"First we have fogotten that science and knowledge are not a self-sufficient set of notions, existing for their own sakes, abstracted and separate from man. Science and knowledge don't exist in books, they do exist in minds, they are vital and internal energies and must develop therefore according to the inner spiritual structure of the mind in which they have their being."

"Secondly, we act as if the task of education were to infuse into the child, or the adolescent, only abridging and concentrating it, the very science or knowledge of the adult....So we try to cram young people with a chaos of summarized adult notions which have been either condensed, dogmatized, and textbookishly cut up or else made so easy that they are reduced to the vanishing point.

"As a result, we run the risk of producing either an instructed, bewildered intellectual dwarf, or an ignorant intellectual dwarf playing at dolls with our science. In a recent essay Professor Douglas Bush recalls "the classic anecdote of the young woman who was asked if she could teach English history. 'Oh, yes,' she replied brightly. 'I've had it twice, once in clay and once in sand.'"


Katie said...

I wish I could truly grasp this definition of education. I keep slipping from knowledge to information.

I want it to be efficient, and the development of a mind is anything but.

Thanks for posting this. I keep thinking if I just read and think enough about it, I will grasp it eventually. This is one of the reasons I enjoy your blogs so much, Willa. :o)

Willa said...

I think Maritain's point was very supportive of a CM-type education. In fact, a lot of the book reminded me of what she said in different places in her books.

I know what you mean about wanting efficiency, though, definitely! It is a constant balance for me, steering between "laissez aller" and over-direction.