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Education: an Art or a Method? An Invitation to Contemplation

Much of “education” has become the lengthy, dull shadow of the factory system. We want predictable, consistent results so we demand expensive, complex methods.

But I must ask: how can the logos be confined to method? Ought we to try?

Consider the following quotes from those who wondered the same:

“When a workman is unceasingly and exclusively engaged in the fabrication of one thing, he ultimately does his work with singular dexterity; but at the same time he loses the general faculty of applying his mind to the direction of the work. He every day becomes more adroit and less industrious; so that it may be said of him that in proportion as the workman improves, the man is degraded. What can be expected of a man who has spent twenty years of his life in making heads for pins? And to what can that mighty human intelligence which has so often stirred the world be applied in him except it be to investigate the best method of making pins’ heads? When a workman has spent a considerable portion of his existence in this manner, his thoughts are forever set upon the object of his daily toil; his body has contracted certain fixed habits, which it can never shake off; in a word, he no longer belongs to himself, but to the calling that he has chosen.”

– Alexis De’Toquville, Democracy in America, Book 2, Chapter 2

“David Halberstam…illustrates the double danger of any new technique. First, it tends to dissociate itself from the problems and presumptions that called it into being. Like Franksenstein’s monster, technique grows a “mind” of its own, a life system supported by a whole battery of dependent technicians – and it seeks to perpetuate itself long after it has served (or perverted) its original purposes. Second, technique tends to exercise a magnetic influence on policy…Our fascination with technical means, by the very nature of things, subverts the supreme act of education – the cultivation of the human spirit…”

– David Hicks, Norms and Nobility, pg 12.

“The greatest invention of the 19th century was the invention of a method of invention. A new method entered into life. In order to understand our epoch, we can neglect all the details of change…We must concentrate on the method itself; that is the real novelty, which has broken up the foundations of the old civilization. The prophecy of Francis Bacon has now been fulfilled; and man, who at times dreamt of himself as little lower than the angels, has submitted to become the servant and the minister of nature. It still remains to be seen whether the same actor can play both parts.”

– Alfred North Whitehead, Science in the Modern World: Lowell Lectures, p. 9

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