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)

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A Meditation. Of the Good News. Of the Christian Faith.

Christian teaching on “the good news” is paradoxical: the faith required to make the news good is occasioned by receiving the good news as good. One cannot have faith in something that has not been heard, yet one cannot hear it rightly without having faith. Faith makes impossible faith possible.

It is as if faith itself is the good news.

 

A Quote. A Warning. Of Self-Love. Of Praising the Youth.

The education ordinarily given to the youth is a second self-love that we breathe into them.

—La Rochefoucauld, Maxim 261

Be careful how you praise the youth. Praise their way, and they will continue in it. Praise their nature, and will they not rest from all good work? A good child has nothing to do to be good if nothing can be done about nature. But it is not so: one’s way may overcome nature*—and it would do so even if one’s way were idleness.


* Cf. Pascal, Pensées §92: “custom is a second nature that destroys the first”; and Montaigne, Essais III.10: “custom is a second nature, and no less powerful”; and Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1152a32-33, quoting Evenus: “long-lived habit becomes, in the end, a human’s nature.”