"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What Is a Good Education?

Even in higher education, there is the liberal arts curriculum. Although the specific subjects may differ from college to college, a liberal arts education is quite different from professional, vocational or technical curricula. Harvard takes pride in its liberal education and on its admissions web page, one can read the following:
The Value of a Liberal Arts Education 
A Harvard education is a liberal education — that is, an education conducted in a spirit of free inquiry undertaken without concern for topical relevance or vocational utility. This kind of learning is not only one of the enrichments of existence; it is one of the achievements of civilization. It heightens students' awareness of the human and natural worlds they inhabit. It makes them more reflective about their beliefs and choices, more self-conscious and critical of their presuppositions and motivations, more creative in their problem-solving, more perceptive of the world around them, and more able to inform themselves about the issues that arise in their lives, personally, professionally, and socially. College is an opportunity to learn and reflect in an environment free from most of the constraints on time and energy that operate in the rest of life.
Jesuit schools sum this up in a Latin phrase, "Cura Personalis", Care for the Whole Person:

Above copied from http://postmarq.tumblr.com/post/18392210430/marquette-cura-personalis
If this is an ideal for higher education, it must apply likewise to basic education. The introduction of DepEd K+12 raises the question on what the two additional years at the end of high school should be. Without doubt, what goes into these two years will likewise have an impact on higher education. Thus, questions have been raised regarding what general education courses should remain in college.

Nevertheless, a good basic education requires "Cura Personalies". Diane Ravitch makes this statement in the third proposed solution in her book Reign of Error. In the chapter, "The Essentials of a Good Education", Ravitch writes:
Solution No. 3 Every school should have a full, balanced, and rich curriculum, including the arts, science, history, literature, civics, georgraphy, foreign languages, mathematics, and physical education.
Basic education is so much more than turning children into college or career-ready individuals. Basic education is caring for the whole person. Basic education is the investment made by society for its future. As Ravitch describes, "A citizen of a democratic society must be able to read critically, listen carefully, evaluate competing claims, weigh evidence, and come to a thoughtful judgment." Without such skills, a democratic society is sending election ballots to people who are not equipped to make an informed decision. There is nothing wrong with teaching skills important in domestic services (cooking, cleaning, laundry) in high school. But there is something wrong if these become the primary subjects taught in high school. 

Cura personalis must not be confused with religion or character education simply because the Jesuits have embraced this phrase. Caring for the whole reason requires all the general disciplines that encompass human knowledge and experiences. And it does include even physical education and recess.






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