"And Ennui.––This notion, that education is included in environment, or, at the best, in atmosphere, has held the ground for a generation or two, and it seems to me that it has left its mark upon our public and our private lives. We are more ready to be done unto than to do; we do not care for the labour of ordering our own lives in this direction or in that; they must be conducted for us; a press of engagements must compel us into what next, and what next after. We crave for spectacular entertainment, whether in the way of pageants in the streets, or spectacles on the boards. Even Shakespeare has come to be so much the occasion for gorgeous spectacles that what the poet says is of little moment compared with the show a play affords. There is nothing intentionally vicious in all this; it is simply our effort to escape from the ennui that results from a one-sided view of education,––that education is an atmosphere only."--Charlotte Mason, School Education, page 150Is education only environment, or atmosphere? Charlotte Mason points out, in the passage above, the danger of never applying ourselves to seek out ideas, but only letting them drop in our laps, hoping they'll just sink in (something like the current worries over the bits and bites of news that come shooting at us online). If we never make a serious effort to go out and Think, we might end up worrying only about nothing weightier than how to tie a cravat.
To wind up: my ninth grader came home from the public library recently and complained that a lot of the "teenage books" there all seemed to focus on the same few topics, most of them inappropriate. She gets that; she's not asking to read them. She just wishes that more writers would realize that lots of young people have broader interests than vampires and whatever. What's the "real world," anyway, and who's to say who is or isn't living in it? Is education just what a teacher tells you to memorize, and information just what comes at you over whatever gadget you carry around? Do we have to rebel so hard, trying to get whatever knowledge is out there, that we frighten ourselves? Or do we allow the hard work of learning to turn us into computers wearing tennis shoes?
We can let education drive us, or we can allow it to humanize us. We need all three of its faces, but, as Charlotte Mason says--"in proportion."
Midnight oil graphic found on Workaholic.org
Linked from the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival: Education is a Life.