Thursday, January 2, 2014
How we educate. . .
With so much to see (and education concentrating upon the visual image), the person actually sees less -- that is, what registers in the mind is less because the images are too many and pass too quickly before the eye to give the mind time to decide what is important and what is not). This actually encourages a rather passive reaction to what is seen and heard.
T. S. Eliot asked, “Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” His point is that we live with an abundance of information but we are not sure what to do with it, how to sort it out, and wherein lies the essential knowledge and the wisdom that makes such information useful.
C. S. Lewis said, "For wise men of old, the cardinal problem of human life was how to conform the soul to objective reality, and the solution was wisdom, self-discipline, and virtue. For the modern, the cardinal problem is how to conform reality to the wishes of man, and the solution is a technique.” The older path of education sought how one might adjust to the reality that was there while the modern path adjusts that reality to suit the individual. We have come, it seems, to the point where we adjust reality like we do the preferences on our smart phones, tablets, and computers in order to make what is outside of us fit what is inside of us. In such a world, there is no real truth, nothing that is objectively true or real, and nothing concrete. Facts have less impact than feelings and are useful only if we deem them appealing to us.
Our minds have become deadened to what we see and to the information around us. Thrill has replaced every criteria of reality. The video games of today succeed because they offer a new experience every time and not because they offer the same experience. Pornography is appealing not because it is predictable but because the sheer abundance of it offers the prospect of something new and different each time it is viewed. Therefore the mind has become trained to search for that which is new instead of that which is true. We have followed the lead of our technology to surrender truth, morality, and beneficence to impulse -- an impulse unregulated, unrestrained, and unhindered.
Without TV to dominate our thinking, we made up stories, we played games together, and we found inspiration for what we did in the books we read. Without all the music available on the I-pod or its lookalikes, we learned to play instruments and sing. Without all the images to download, we learned to draw and paint and sculpt what was in our minds. Without all the visual information, we learned to read and to unpack what we read to discern what was worthy and useful. Without the virtual friendships of social media, we learned to interact, the art of conversation, we joined in real groups of shared interests or skills (not Google groups), and we met together instead of the controlled interaction of a screen and keyboard.
Modern day education should not incorporate all our technology into the classroom but would better serve the cause of education by creating technology free zones. Think how much teacher time might be freed up if the classroom was not a slave to video or other technology? The modern day home should find time to surrender technology so that the family can be together, interact face to face, and re-learn the social skills that once were our glory. The Church does not need to compete with TV, social media, or the internet. In fact, one of the worst things we can do in catechesis or worship is to emulate the technologies that work against community. We must not further isolate people by adopting the very methodologies that have become our stumbling blocks to real relationships and honest friendship.
I know that it seems radical and some may call me a Luddite but the technology that is our genius can easily become our undoing. This is as true for the Church as it is for the classroom and home. The real champion of technology is the self-discipline to know when it is enough, when to put it down, and what its limits are. Without such self-control, we will become the victims of what we can do instead of the masters of it all.