Love As with all life, education is the outworking of the objects of our love.

Reading the Great Books takes much love and curiosity. Ideas cannot be simply comprehended or memorized- they need to be imbibed as the expression of what is lovely and worthy of admiration in what is human. Love is manifested in a sense of affection for the object, but its more vigorous manifestation is loyalty and devotion. Students not only need to delight in their studies but to loyally support and defend their vision of attaining a well-educated life.

The nature of love and its place in life is a very large theme that often comes up in the Great Books. To discuss such reading without the experience of love would be more than mildly humorous. Dante’s Divine Comedy is organized around the theme of God using the entirety of the world to lovingly draw us to himself. Dante’s character Beatrice becomes a symbol for the entirety of God’s loving action to bring us to himself through awe at his pleasant creation.

Though love is often limited to the narrowly romantic sense, it effects a much broader scope than the love of man and woman. Aristotle observes that every choice we make is always a combination of our desires and reason. Reason gives us the means, but desire provides the motivation to pursue our ends. Without reason, we would never know how to attain our desired ends, but without desire, we would never move towards any choice in the first place.

Aristotle also discusses the effects of love on our character. He comments that to find pleasure in what is good has the greatest effect upon our nature. Coming to take pleasure in the proper objects is a great part of what it means to become educated.

Questions stir our curiosity and help us appreciate the significance of answers, but that is only the means of education. The goal of education must be love. If we do not love, we show that we have never truly understood the object of our studies.

Seeing love as the object of education should rightly terrify the teacher. How can you bring another person to see and love what is true? There is no certain way of transforming a person’s nature, however, our best hope lies in simply focusing on those ideas that are truly lovely and awe-inspiring. Such high principles may seem lofty beyond application, but when you observe what often gets called education today, you quickly realize your competition is not trying very hard. How often do we see education turned into mere technical training, or an introduction into the grievances of a particularly tribe, or the indoctrination into a particularly narrow school of thought complete with slimy gushing over anything a friend of the movement has ever said or done? A sincere attempt to present the student with the fullness of truth and the glory of God cannot go without a warm response and many hearts re-awakened.

Love must be the destination of any good education. If the teacher is uncertain of what objects can truly inspire love in the student, it might be best to consider another occupation for a decade or so. If we think education can survive simply attempting to address the students present desires, rather than guiding them to redirect their them, we will only shift their nature rather than transform it.


Created with images by swisshippo - "Westminster abbey"

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