Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our English Syllabus

In Lewis' "Our English Syllabus", he begins by discussing the purpose of education. Lewis states that in Milton's opinion, the purpose of education is the fitting of man "to perform justly, skillfully, and magnanimously all the offices both private and public, of peace and war." However, Lewis takes it further by stating the words of Aristotle, "We wage war in order to have peace; we work in order to have leisure." Lewis continues with the concept that man is superior to animals because of our desire and ability to obtain leisure. He cautions however, that we must not forget why we work and get caught up in ourselves with the work we are doing, but rather to take time to enjoy leisure and the beauty of God's creation.

An important question arises, are you human, of merely a candidate for humanity? Lewis states that in order to be a man, you must desire and long for things on your own, where as those who are merely candidates for humanity wish to have people tell them what to long for and how to obtain those desires. "The proper question for a freshman is not, 'What will do me most good?' but 'What do I most want to know?'

This idea of being a human or a candidate fits closely with the belief that there is a difference between education and learning. Education is merely having someone of higher knowledge take information and regurgitate it back to you, where learning can be done at anytime or anywhere, from anyone. Learning is the desire and longing to gain more wisdom, and we must not abandon the journey for wisdom, as it is far more easily understood and applied in life than mere knowledge. In addition to seeking wisdom, we may also gain other virtues along the way. Lewis explains the idea of playing sports, to win, requires practice and effort. As a result of this hard work, we become more healthy individuals, but if we were to exercise solely for becoming healthy, many of us would not be committed to it.

In conclusion, Lewis states that we are old enough to search for wisdom and understanding on our own, and we need to do so with a longing and desire to achieve it, or else we will lose interest and fall away.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Brandon,

    You understood it well, this kind of learning can be best compared to the search for wisdom encouraged for all of us in Proverbs. We just should not forget that there may be pride on the doorstep, as such we need to remember a warning 'When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom' Proverbs 11:2.
    God bless,
    A & P