Sunday, April 27, 2008

What Should Be Taught in Schools

"The Greeks were amazed and impressed by their progress in geometry, and Plato takes mathematics as a case of a high, though not highest, knowledge. It may also be seen as an image of, or standing for, any strict intellectual discipline, such as learning a foreign language. Learning is moral progress because it is an asceticism, it diminishes our egoism and enlarges our conception of truth, it provides deeper, subtler and wiser visions of the world. What should be taught in schools: to attend and get things right. Creative power requires these abilities. Intellectual and craft studies initiate new qualities of consciousness, minutiae of perception, ability to observe, they alter our desires, our instinctive movements of desire and aversion. To attend is to care, to learn to desire to learn. One may of course learn bad habits as well as good, and that too is a matter of quality of consciousness. I am speaking now of evident aspects of education and teaching, where the 'intellectual' connects with the 'moral', and where apparently 'neutral' words naturally take on a glow of value. The concepts 'truth' and 'reality' are at issue."

--Iris Murdoch, Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (1992)

"[O]ne thing I am ready to fight for in word and deed, that we shall be better, braver and more active men if we believe it right to look for what we do not know, than if we think we cannot discover it and have no duty to seek it."

--Plato, Meno (86 BCE)

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