Monday, January 12, 2009

"Our English Syllabus"

This piece was quite different from anything we have yet read in this class. It did not seem to be quite as blatantly philosophical as any of the pieces we’ve read before, but I still liked it. I really liked the distinction Lewis makes between education and learning. He sees education as something which gives us the chance to participate in activities and think about things which are not directly related to our careers or our survival. According to Lewis, it “actualizes the potentiality for leisure.” Lewis says that education is also something which takes place in a specific time frame. He sees learning, on the other hand, as a life-long process. It is not something which is forced upon us or something we do in order to better ourselves or reach some explicit goal. Rather, learning is something we do simply out of a desire for knowledge about something which particularly interests us. He points out that the original purpose of Oxford (and colleges like it) is not to teach people or to give them an education, but to give the professors and others a place where they can pursue knowledge for knowledge’s sake.

I also liked the distinction Lewis makes between training and education. Education is something which is broad and overarching of several disciplines and it does not always directly make us more able to do a job or directly prepare us for a career. He defines training as something with direct use – obtaining only those skills which will be used directly in the workplace. Lewis states,
Our danger is that equality may mean training for all and education for none – that everyone will learn commercial French instead of Latin, book-keeping instead of geometry, and ‘knowledge of the world we live in’ instead of great literature.
This is something I myself have seen at Calvin College and in my own life. It is often so easy to stay focused on a future career and forget the value of the other things we are learning. In my own life, I have often said to myself of various classes, “when am I ever going to use this as a doctor?” I often see my time here at Calvin only as a means of getting me into medical school and I forget that there is value in having a well-rounded knowledge about various subjects; that in order to be a good steward in God’s world it is not only necessary to know a lot about one thing, but to know about many different things which I may encounter later. This reading motivated me to see more in those subjects which may not naturally hold much interest for me. It is possible to see God at work in all disciplines and having a well-rounded knowledge of creation allows us to appreciate even more what God is doing in all areas of the world and all aspects of culture. I really appreciated what Professor Adrianna Ribeiro had to say in class about taking those subjects which we may not be very interested in and making them fit our interests by relating them back to things which we know more about. This is not necessarily an easy thing to do, but hard work is required in order to truly learn something. I agree with Lewis at the end of this essay when he says that we can no longer be spoon-fed in our classes. “You are too old for that.”

1 comment:

  1. Dear Kaylin,

    I loved the way you summarized the essay. Especially the quote on spoon feeding. Yes, at the moment a child grows old enough to hold a spoon, it will naturally ask for the spoon as to learn to use it him/herself. However, it seems that some (or most of us) in the area of learning have forgotten to grow up, or more what is more likely, have become complacent? How can we help ourselves and others to look for wisdom in all places, time or out of time)? (Proverbs 2:2-5, 4:6)