When education fails
When need to have a clear idea of what makes authentic education and what makes it fail. Nowadays, the common notion is that education is simply a matter of going to school, acquiring some knowledge and skills if only to be gainfully employed later on and earn some income for a living.
This is a very limited, if not distorted, understanding of education. Sad to say, hardly anything is done to correct it. As a matter of fact, it is continually reinforced by simply giving a lot of attention and effort in developing the technical aspects of education while doing hardly anything about the spiritual and moral aspects. We have to understand that the education of man goes much more than the technical aspects. It does not tackle only the human and material needs and aspirations of man. No matter how important and indispensable these needs and aspirations are, they are not the ultimate end of the education of man.
Authentic and holistic education aims at achieving the full development of man as a person and a child of God. It goes beyond simply developing him physically, mentally, professionally, socially, etc. It focuses more on the spiritual and moral aspects that underpin all the other areas that man needs to develop. There are, of course, many ideologies, philosophies, political systems, etc., that have their own idea of what makes for the full development of man. But the Christian notion of education involves the development of a person’s relationship of love with God and with everybody else.
As such it focuses on the person of Christ who is the fullness of God’s revelation to us and who himself said that he is “the way, the truth and the life.” (Jn 14,6) Education, according to Christian understanding, is matter of living with Christ, following him and uniting oneself with him who is the pattern of our humanity and the redeemer of our humanity that is damaged by sin.
Christian education teaches us how to relate ourselves and everything else in our life to Christ. It teaches us that Christ, being the pattern of our humanity, is always with us and that we need to continually and vitally connect ourselves with him. The very core of our identity and of our consciousness should be Christ before we put in our own personal distinctive properties. This is based on what the Catechism itself teaches us: “Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us…We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus’ life and his mysteries and often to beg him to perfect and realize them in us…” (CCC 521)
We can just imagine what would be involved in this process of Christian education! There definitely is the need to know Christ and to love him, how to make him alive in our consciousness, how we can be drawn to him always, how we can follow him, discern his will and ways in every moment and situation of our life, etc.?
There is definitely the need to learn the art of praying and contemplation to such an extent that we can always feel the presence of Christ. To be able to pray and contemplate Christ in everything would require a whole lot of virtues—faith, hope and charity, then humility, fortitude, patience, etc. We should be ready to cultivate these virtues without let-up. Of course, we should always ask for God’s grace also. There should be a growing awareness in us becoming more and more like Christ—having his mind, his attitudes, his desires and intentions, his ways of reacting to different situations in life, etc.—echoing St. Paul’s words: “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2,20)
This Christian education definitely goes far beyond the school academics. It would require everything. Otherwise, that’s when education fails!