Thursday, April 9, 2015

Michael Oakeshott on education, again

One more passage:

Education, I have contended, is the transaction between the generations in which newcomers to the scene are initiated into the world which they are to inhabit. This is a world of understandings, imaginings, meanings, moral and religious beliefs, relationships, practices — states of mind in which the human condition is to be discerned as recognitions of and responses to the ordeal of consciousness. These states of mind can be entered into only by being themselves understood, and they can be understood only by learning to do so. To be initiated into this world is learning to become human; and to move within it freely is being human, which is a “historic,” not a “natural” condition.

Thus, an educational engagement is at once a discipline and a release; and it is the one by virtue of being the other. It is a difficult engagement of learning by study in a continuous and exacting redirection of attention and refinement of understanding which calls for humility, patience and courage. Its reward is an emancipation from the mere “fact of living,” from the immediate contingencies of place and time of birth, from the tyranny of the moment and from the servitude of a merely current condition; it is the reward of a human identity and of a character capable in some measure of the moral and intellectual adventure which constitutes a specifically human life.

“Education: The Engagement and Its Frustration” (1972), in The Voice of Liberal Learning (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).
I like that characterization of children as “newcomers to the scene.” And I’m inspired by just about everything this essay says about education.

Two more Michael Oakeshott posts
On education: being and becoming human
On higher education

comments: 1

Frex said...

My favorite phrase: " the ordeal of consciousness". How true, that it is an ordeal.
(Frex = Fresca)