An education that does not order the soul towards truth and beauty, that does not instill the intellectual virtue of seeking the truth, and the practical virtue of putting moral truths in action, is no education at all. It is not fit for a human being.
Anthony Esolen, author of Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, has a wonderful article up at LifeSiteNews marking the passing of Stratford Caldecott. You should head over and give it a read. His book is up next for me after I finish Caldecott’s Beauty for Truth’s Sake: On the Re-Enchantment of Education, and for good reason. The man is a wonderful defender of the Classical tradition:
A few days ago, Stratford Caldecott, the wisest writer on education in our time, passed away at the all too early age of sixty. He had written many books, on a wide range of things: on the theological imagination of Tolkien; on the liturgy; on the cosmos; on charity; and on beauty, especially as regards a truly liberal education.
It’s time for us to return home, and Stratford Caldecott can show us the way. But first we must understand that we are in a very strange land, and we can no more “apply” the wisdom of Mr. Caldecott to the schooling we have, than we can put icing on mud and call it cake.
Our schooling is ghastly. We must face this fact. At its least inhuman, it is crassly utilitarian, and inept to boot. But it has grown worse than utilitarian. Russell Kirk long ago described its progress in degeneration. We reject the “moral imagination” that could be built up in us by patiently receiving what the greatest artists have to teach us. We do not stoop to learn from Marcus Aurelius, the grave, dutiful, tranquil emperor meditating upon life from his barracks on the German frontier. We will not humble ourselves to heed the lessons that Shakespeare can teach us – about the fickleness of popular sympathies, the transience of power, or the beauty of the pure body and pure soul. If we study the old masters at all, it is to find that they are conveniently modern and “progressive,” or to teach them a lesson in the schoolyard sense, taking them apart and exposing their supposed weakness or cowardice.