A Quote. Of Liberal Education.

St. John’s College knows, along with many others:

In a half-dozen classrooms they gather then,—here to follow the love-song of Dido, here to listen to the tale of Troy divine; there to wander among the stars, there to wander among men and nations,—and elsewhere other well-worn ways of knowing this queer world. Nothing new, no time-saving devices,—simply old time-glorified methods of delving for Truth, and searching out the hidden beauties of life, and learning the good of living. The riddle of existence is the college curriculum that was laid before the Pharaohs, that was taught in the groves by Plato, that formed the trivium and quadrivium, and is today laid before the freedmen’s sons by Atlanta University. And this course of study will not change; its methods will grow more deft and effectual, its content richer by toil of scholar and sight of seer; but the true college will ever have one goal,—not to earn meat, but to know the end and aim of that life which meat nourishes.

—Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, “Of the Wings of Atalanta” (1903)

Two Thoughts. Questions. Of Becoming Human.

  • What good is it to make a child ready for college and career yet not also—not foremost—for life? The child will become a worker but never a human.
  • It is a harsh judgment to say someone is not human or will not become a human. Any man or woman is surely human enough to be treated with dignity. Yes, but human enough to treat oneself and one’s neighbors with dignity? to face death with dignity? to awake again with dignity and not with a shred of shame?
  • Is this an unbearably stupid thought? Has the moral and spiritual education of youth fallen so far out of vogue that our whole society would scoff at it? Does it seem ridiculous to imagine an education that trains a child for the college of humanity and for a career in becoming human?