Sunday, August 14, 2011

C.S. Lewis on Education

I really like this post by Joe Rigney at Desiring God, about C.S. Lewis’ view of education, and life in general.


  1. Objective realities exist. We should aim to know these realities.
  2. Objective values about objective realities exist. We should aim to know these values.
  3. These objective realities and values merit specific emotional responses. We should aim to respond appropriately to these realities and values.
  4. Education should aim to help others fulfil these three steps as well.

I agree 100% with the first three points. And I think I agree with number four, at least partly – it is a laudable aim to help others reach this in a general sense.

However, the methods used in such ‘education’ could encroach into the ethical controversies underpinning the conflict between socialsm and capitalism. It is certainly possible to breach human autonomy. And since our perception of how to pursue this must have at least some subjectivity to it – it is also possible to cause harm and pervert justice.

Even if we focus purely on maximising this ideal ‘educated’ state in humanity (ignoring these other ethical dimensions), this subjectivity easily has the potential to thwart our very aim. From an evangelism point of view, our pursuit of helping others see and respond appropriately to the truth of Christ, has the potential to drive people in the opposite direction by our imperfect (or imperfectly applied) methods of ‘education’.

What importance should these negative outcomes have in our thinking? Are there any guiding principles we can use to protect ourselves from them, or form the opposite danger of avoiding appropriate 'education'?

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