When the ‘Tao’ becomes a product of the educational system, it no longer has the power to keep mankind from destroying himself through utter submission to natural and irrational impulses. These will be exercised by a few over all the rest in a haphazard manner that invites no judgement of good or evil because these concepts in themselves are open to being shaped by those who happen to be in power at the moment.
We must see through some things, but Lewis suggests that humanity itself should not be on the agenda for a reduction to some element of nature that can be manipulated and changed.
It has already taken several readings to grasp a basic understanding of the brilliance contained within this little book (it is less than 100 pages). However, I think it well worth the time spent to understand the ideas it proposes and will probably continue to dig for what I think is the hidden solution to a balanced educational approach that can develop the individuals sense of morality without forcing them to embrace the academic anorexia that plagues the contemporary college and high school campus experience.
“For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique; and both, in the practice of this technique, are ready to do things hitherto regarded as disgusting and impious
Popular calls for education reform to produce 'functions' of creativity only provide an ironic outline of what is missing from this functional education system: the human element. Education must produce humans. Creativity is a natural expression of humanity. In order to teach someone what it means to be human, there must be some understanding of what this is or how it might look.
The appeal by Lewis to a transcendent universal standard creates the space required for a democratic approach to education reform. If the standard is universal, every person has some idea of what it might look like and can participate in the process of building a new system. On the other hand, if the standard is arbitrary, then only those with power, authority, and credentials have the ability to propose changes for reasons only they can understand.
In an attempt not to teach any values, the value of facts also disappears leaving students with no incentive to learn - except perhaps the fear of bad grades. It seems like we must either embrace some standard of value (or angle of truth) in order to make the learning experience have any significance for the student.
If I am new to writing, it will be difficult for me to make a value statement about the quality of one author or another. On the other hand, I will quickly be able to discern my feelings toward that author. Perhaps the function of human-centered learning is not to dismiss either sort of observation, but rather to help the individual recognize where each one is valuable in the process of education.
Some of you might have read Parker Palmer's "The Courage To Teach" throughout your coursework. I did a review of that book in one of my classes and it raised a question about the difference between telling students the answer and having them discover it. Some teachers believe it is their responsibility to inform students … Continue reading The Abolition of Man – Part 1