Education–George MacDonald

There are in whose notion education would seem to consist in the production of a certain repose through the development  of this and that faculty, and the depression, if not eradication, of this and that other faculty.  But if mere repose were the end in view, an unsparing depression of all the faculties would be the surest means of approaching it, provided always the animal instincts  could be depressed likewise, or, better still, kept in a state of constant repletion. Happily, however, for the human race, it possesses in the passion of hunger even, a more immediate saviour than in the wisest selection and treatment of its faculties.  For repose is not the end of education; its end is a noble unrest, an ever renewed awakening from the dead, a ceaseless questioning of the past for the interpretation of the future, an urging of the motions of life, which had better far be accelerated into fever, than retarded into lethargy.

We have here, I think, something like the contrast between the way students see (have been taught to see) their education and what they should see.  What they want is unsparing depression of their faculties and constant repletion of their animal instincts, a kind of upside-down ascesis.  What they should want is noble unrest, hunger, wakefulness–a fever that urges them from their beds rather than keeping them abed.

5 responses

      • it’s a tough row to hoe, as we discussed a ways back not only working against students deeply ingrained socialization/expectations but also having to spark interest and overcome anxiety, I think this takes real political/organizational reform at the institutional level, any one prof who tries to go it alone will be swimming against the tide, time to get organized(?)!

  1. “What they want is unsparing depression of their faculties and constant repletion of their animal instincts, a kind of upside-down ascesis.”

    The wrong quest for more? A shallow vs. replenishing (and neverending?) quest for more?

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