An Educational Pause – Why Study the Humanities?

The Study of the Humanities is the Foundation Education

“Since, then, the faculty of eloquence is available for both sides, and is of very great service in the enforcing either of wrong or right, why do not good men study to engage it on the side of truth, when bad men use it to obtain the triumph of wicked and worthless causes, and to further injustice and error?”                 -St. Augustine

To be eloquent and learned people of good character, we must ground our education in the Humanities.  This does not mean that other subjects are worthless, or lesser in their interesting qualities.  What it means is that without a foundation in the humanities, education in other subjects and skills becomes groundless and detached from a central meaning that gives overall purpose to education.  Why we learn is the foremost question, and it is in the Humanities we this discussion takes place.

First, students must learn about their tradition–where they have come from, what are the values their society is based on, and understand that religion plays a major role in the formation of both.  Second, students need to understand themselves; what it means to be human, and how to communicate themselves within a community of others.  Only after these first two subjects have been given enough attention can an education in criticism be undertaken.  The aim is to develop a level of respect both for tradition and for community so as to reduce the corrosive element that skepticism brings into the community.  Within this framework, students will have a better understanding of why knowledge holds intrinsic value and shift the focus of education away from the utilitarian idea of producing quantitative skills to embracing what is human and striving for a better humanity.

…coming soon, “Tradition doesn’t have to be a bad word”

…or you can go back to part 3, “The Absence of Religion”

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