“Education is our path to true humanity and wisdom”
~Stratford Caldecott, Beauty for Truth’s Sake, 11
One of the more difficult challenges with classical Christian education is clarifying our end goal. I wrote on this recently in my post “Is Repairing the Ruins our Goal?”, and I suggested that we have the two-fold goal of excellent education and Christian discipleship. In Beauty for Truth’s Sake, Stratford Caldecott asserts that “Education is our path to true humanity and wisdom.” I think Caldecott identifies an important truth at the heart of the educational enterprise—true humanity.
In the incarnation, Jesus not only provides a way for salvation, but he also demonstrates for us true humanity. In become Christ-like through imitation, we are in fact becoming more human, more like we were created to be in the garden. If education is aimed at improving our minds, rightly ordering our affections, teaching us to value and imitate the true, the good, and the beautiful, and cultivating wisdom and virtue, then education is certainly a way toward our true humanity, seen in the incarnate Jesus.
Yet, as I argue in the “Repairing the Ruins” post, I don’t think education is the only way toward true humanity. Prayer, Scripture reading, times of silence, solitude, and contemplation, and other spiritual disciplines are a path toward our true humanity that, although compatible with education, are clearly distinct from education. In that sense, I might clarify Caldecott’s quote. Rather than saying “education is our path to true humanity and wisdom,” I would propose the following: “Education’s path is toward the goal of true humanity and wisdom.” Insofar as our institutions aim to educate towards these goals, I think the future is quite bright.
Stratford Caldecott, Beauty for Truth’s Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2009), 11.