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    Education: Lacking in Life Itself

    October 11, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    I used to silently condemn some of the people around me, especially teenagers. It wasn’t for piercing their noses or yelling curse words. It was for the lack of depth that everything about them revealed. Were they really interested only in fashion, popularity, the latest scandal at school?

    It is very rare to overhear any sort of intellectual discussion between two teenagers.

    My condemnation was probably more akin to annoyance than anything else. This is because I really thought these kids had capacity for more. I thought they had the capacity for awe and wonder and curiosity about the world around them.

    Charlotte Mason, however, considers these kids maimed:

    We are filled with compassion when we detect the lifeless hand or leg, the artificial nose or jaw, that many a man has brought home as a consequence of the War. But many of our young men and women go about more seriously maimed than these. They are devoid of intellectual interests, history and poetry are without charm for them, the scientific work of the day is only slightly interesting, their ‘job’ and the social amenities they can secure are all that their life has for them.

    The education for most American children prepares them to be cogs in the giant economic wheel, and nothing more. It doesn’t enlarge their souls. It doesn’t even really enlarge their minds {though it is debatable that the two can actually be separated like that}. It doesn’t give them intangibles in which they may delight even in poverty.

    After pondering this quote for some time, I found that my heart had turned from irritation to compassion.

    I have a memory of an older teenager who was in our home one evening. We were reading aloud to the children. I could tell this person couldn’t quite keep up with the story, and eventually this person left to go text-message a friend.

    No wonder folks in this world must spend so much money. They are incapacitated in mind, unable to delight in simple things, unable to think through an issue using sound reasoning. They are not only victims of the education system as we know it, they are set up to be victims of a dictator or tyrant due to their own mental and spiritual handicaps.

    By the way, I still believe these kids have capacity for more. I just think they will need to be led into discovering it. For any of my readers who work with teenagers {within the church and without}, I would encourage you not to dumb anything down, so to speak. I would encourage you to challenge.

    But, more than anything, I would encourage you to read them a story. If they can learn to laugh at the story of Peter Pan, if they can get a warm feeling when Mr. Toad’s friends restore him to decency in The Wind in the Willows if they can bear up under the hardship of poverty along with the sisters in Little Women, if they can struggle along with Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress, they will be the better for it.

    As Mason reminds us, education is the “necessary handmaid of religion.” With increased capacity for thinking and knowing and growing in general comes the capacity for maturing spiritually.

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