A higher education

Originally published in the August 10, 1971 issue of The Christian Science Monitor

Shakespeare, whom Ben Jonson described as having "small Latin and less Greek," tells us that "learning is but an adjunct to ourself." And never, in the four centuries since that was written, has the wisdom of the poet's words been more apparent than today. With increasing insistence, millions of young men and women are demanding that education be an adjunct of themselves, that is, that education be truly relevant to the creation of a wiser, better, happier, kinder human being.

Despite his lack of learning in the two subjects which were looked upon in his day as the absolute foundation of a good education, Shakespeare had a depth of understanding that no amount of schooling could have given him. Compared with his insight into the human condition, how dull and barren was the scholarship of his contemporaries who viewed learning as an end in itself. Shakespeare has had few peers in his ability to put knowledge at the service of mankind.

When we turn to Christ Jesus, we see how fruitfully human knowledge was subordinated to higher spiritual goals. As for Mrs. Eddy, she put men's learning in perspective when she wrote, "To ask wisdom of God, is the beginning of wisdom." Miscellaneous Writings, p. 359.  

To do just this is what an encouragingly large portion of today's youth is seeking. Behind the demands for great relevance in school and college lies a strong moral conviction that the times necessitate that the philosophy of education be molded to nobler ends. Despite the confusion, the lack of precision, exaggeration, the mistakes which undeniably characterize many of youth's demands, basically these latter stem from a heightened moral and spiritual consciousness. Behind much of the insistence upon relevance lies a God-bestowed impulsion toward the better utilization of that human intelligence which has its origin in the divine intelligence.

But how can today's strong demands for educational reform be made most fruitful?

We can, of course, reject the thoughtless suggestion sometimes advanced that such reform should mean less learning, less study, less knowledge, and less application of intelligence. Human affairs are hardly at the spot where less mental effort is justified. But what is justified are such reforms as will lead education to help men better demonstrate here on earth the ever-presence of the only true facts of creation. And these true facts of men's legacy from the Father are intelligence, love, health, brotherhood, peace, and so on. To further these in human affairs must be the true purpose of education. Mrs. Eddy laid great stress on the constructive effects of right education: "Whatever furnishes the semblance of an idea governed by its Principle, furnishes food for thought. Through astronomy, natural history, chemistry, music, mathematics, thought passes naturally from effect back to cause." Science and Health, p. 195.  

But how are the demands for reform and the steps of reform to be channeled into right paths? How are we to avoid merely replacing one fallible educational viewpoint or program or objective with another equally flawed?

If any educator, any teacher, any member of a school board, any student, earnestly desires to improve education and if he will humbly listen for the ideas which ceaselessly pour forth from this higher-than-human source, he will be led in right decisions. We find this wonderful and oft-quoted promise in the Bible: "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left."  Isaiah 30:21.   

Through heeding divine direction men can fashion of education a steadily improving instrument that will not only better the human condition but more richly satisfy all who partake of it.

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