Category Archives: Education
C. S. Lewis sounds this warning in a 1939 essay recently collected and published in Image and Imagination: Essays and Reviews By C. S. Lewis (page 22):
Education is essentially for freemen and vocational training for slaves. That is how they were distributed in the old unequal societies; the poor man’s son was apprenticed to a trade, the rich man’s son went to Eton and Oxford and then made the grand tour. When societies become, in effort if not in achievement, egalitarian, we are presented with a difficulty.
To give every one education and to give no one vocational training is impossible, for electricians and surgeons we must have and they must be trained. Our ideal must be to find time for both education and training: our danger is that equality may mean training for all and education for none — that every one will learn commercial French instead of Latin, book-keeping instead of geometry, and ‘knowledge of the world we live in’ instead of great literature.
It is against this danger that schoolmasters have to fight, for if education is beaten by training, civilization dies.
That is a thing very likely to happen.
I doubt I’ve read a better-articulated summary of the Calvinist approach to learning than the one I recently came across while reading Scholarship and Christian Faith by Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen (Oxford, 2004). On page 26 they write:
“…the academic disciplines are, for the most part, expressions of humanity’s sinful revolt against God. They are manifestations of human arrogance, symbols of humanity’s prideful claim that it can fully understand the world without any reference to God. But Calvinists know there is always room for surprise. Even the most mature Christians still harbor the seeds of sin within them and thus can be mistaken. What is more, God can, through the gift of common grace, sometimes allow the unregenerate to see truths that the righteous have ignored, overlooked, or misconstrued. Because that is the case, Reformed Christian scholars must be ready to be tutored on occasion by both their non-Reformed fellow believers and by their secular academic peers. This will surely be the case with matters of fact and sometimes even with regard to issues of philosophy and faith. Still, the assumption is that on most matters of scholarship Christians will see things more clearly than their non-Christian colleagues.”