Saturday, August 11, 2007

What is the Purpose of Education?

For Catholics, the purpose of education is to gain knowledge to change the world for the better in a Catholic and traditional Western sense. This necessitates a strong liberal arts curriculum and a commitment to orthodox Catholic values.

These days it is almost impossible get a genuine liberal arts, humanistic education because of the nutty postmodernists who have taken over virtually every department in the humanities around the world and who attempt to replace truth with jejune, heretical ideas that have no origin in Western Civilization. However, it is still possible to get an excellent education outside these postmodern, Marxist reeducation centers.

From the
mission statement of Christendom College, an orthodox Catholic university on the banks of the Shenandoah River that has a graduate school in Alexandria, Virginia, President Timothy O'Donnell discusses what real education entails:

"A Catholic university must have at least four of the following "essential characteristics." First, the Holy Father says there must be a Christian inspiration which is found not only in the individuals who make up the college or university, but throughout the university community as such. Secondly, in the light of the truths of the Catholic Faith, there must be an ongoing reflection upon the growing body of human knowledge to which the university seeks to add its own unique contribution in the field of research and writing. Third, within the university there must be "fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church." It is here, particularly within theological discourse, that the necessity of adherence to the teaching of the Magisterium as an authoritative font of truth is emphasized by the Pope. Fourth, there must be a commitment on the part of the institution to serve the entire people of God and the entire human family of mankind "in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life." That transcendent goal is none other than God, who beckons all men to eternal happiness in the beatific vision. Here again, in all four points the importance of faith is seen. It is central and vital to the integrity to the Catholic university. In an authentic Catholic university, "Catholic ideals, attitudes, and principles penetrate and inform university activities in accordance to the proper nature and autonomy of these activities.'"

A good example of an authentic Catholic education, the new Chavagnes International College in France for grade level students. Here is the reason it was founded:

"Every profession should be able to be evaluated. The difference between Roman Catholic schools and non-Catholic schools is that Roman Catholic schools are supposed to produce young people with a substantively different worldview. As recently as the 1970s, Catholic bishops were saying that Catholicism should permeate every aspect of the curriculum. How do you measure if this is successfully communicated? It doesn’t wash for Catholic headmasters and religious-education teachers to say, 'Our pupils may not go to Mass, but they are very committed to world peace and social justice.' However, rather, than bemoaning this fact, we decided to do something about it."

I'm envious. Those boys are getting an excellent education that many of us were denied. However, you can always educate yourself at any stage in your life. I'm getting an M.A. in Theology from Christendom College. My main purpose was to get an excellent education in the humanities to best understand Western Civilization. One of my friends from Virginia Tech who eventually went on to get a doctorate in microbiology from Johns Hopkins also takes classes at the Christendom graduate school in Alexandria. He has stated how much of an education he lacked before taking these classes, and he attended the best high school in Fairfax County, The Thomas Jefferson School, and some of the best colleges in the nation.

What we are lacking is a genuine, conservative Catholic education, and this is why Christendom College has been such a blessing.

Another excellent school with an authentic Catholic focus is St. Thomas More Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina. Here is
their philosophy, a philosophy that is genuinely in the Western tradition:

"STMA recognizes that students must understand themselves and how they are created before they are able to help others. Our late Holy Father wrote in Fides et Ratio 'The admonition Know Yourself was carved on the temple portal at Delphi, as testimony to a basic truth to be adopted as a minimal norm by those who seek to set themselves apart from the rest of creation as 'human beings', that is as those who "know themselves".' We recognize that the search for truth is one that has sparked the keenest minds of all ages to understand their fundamental nature and to uncover the mysteries of the world around them. This gave rise to the arts and all the sciences, and is primarily why STMA uses a classical curriculum, because it has proven to help shape the mind and temper the intellect so that it is most disposed to think and reason, ask the right questions so that the answers can be understood within proper context."

Many Catholic colleges, in response to this need of true liberal arts, have been set up around the world or have been around for a while and are still true to authentic Catholic education. For example here is what Dr. Anne Carson Daly says about the excellent Belmont Abbey College:

"'Belmont Abbey College is a special, blessed place with a terrific sense of community, and it is a community devoted equally to faith and reason,' said Daly. 'I feel privileged to work with a faculty that is not only remarkably talented but also extremely devoted to both the College and their students.'”

Faith and Reason: Unfortunately these are two things that postmodern obsurants eschew, and so it is very difficult to get a real education these days at your average high school or university. After all, there is only one subject sacred to liberals.

A good Catholic education, of course, should always stress the liberal arts. The Christendom College webpage has an excellent explanation on the
value of the liberal arts.

Catholic education (and all education) needs to get back to our roots.


ewe said...

May i ask just what you plan on doing with a masters in theology or is that for your own interest only?

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