Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lucia Archbishop Fulton Sheen on Education - Part I

The above clip is from Archbishop Fulton Sheen's TV programme Life is Worth Living, and first screened in 1955. He was America's first TV evangelist and had a huge following of devoted viewers at the time. Here, he talks about education and it's purpose.

My partial transcript starts mostly after the 3:40 mark. There are a number of jokes as part of the lead in - I won't spoil them by transcribing them.

He starts with a general philosophy of eduction in college (university)...

Aim of eduction is to train the whole man, intellect and will, not just the mind. If we went into a store to buy a suit of clothes, we would not take a suit that had only one sleeve, and if you bought shoes, you'd want toes - unless you wanted to be in style. And so with education.

Tonight we'll only talk about the intellect. Now the intellect, if it is to be properly trained, should be developed along these three lines.
  1. First of all, an educated man will seek Truth.
  2. Secondly, he will have a Correlation of Studies, that is to say, one subject in his college will be related to another subject.
  3. And thirdly, there will be Depth, particularly the deepening of mystery.

The purpose of education is not just to train us for democracy, not just to train us to make a living, the purpose of education is to acquaint us with truth. Truth about everything.

Truth in a certain sense is narrowing, I know, because before you go to school you are free to believe that Shakespeare was born in 208, and then you have to believe that he was born in 1564 and died in 1616. I hope that's right, I haven't looked that up, that came right out of my unconscious. [He's right!]

And we have to know the truth of science, the truth of literature, and above all the truth of man. We are not able to serve democracy unless we are true human beings. We cannot make a living, for example, as an engineer, unless we know the truth of engineering. Beyond all these particular truths the one basic truth that we have to learn is of course the truth of our own existence.

We would not have a gadget in our house five minutes without knowing the meaning of that gadget. And yet some people will live 10, 20, 50, 60 years without knowing why they are here, or where they are going. And when life is meaningless, it's very dull, and it is this absence of a goal or purpose that makes so many people full of worries, anxieties, fears, psychosis and neurosis. After all, what is the use of living if we don't know the purpose of living?

Therefore, the first thing that education should give us is what is the truth about a man, why was he made? We will not develop that in detail and it's ultimate purpose when all other purposes are satisfied is to attain perfect life in truth and love, which is the definition of God.

So why is truth important? There is a principle in psychology, called Ideo Motor. That means that every idea has a kind of motive power; it tends to work itself out into act.
Explanation here of a person at a football game who sees an opening for a player and subconsciously moves his body, even thought he's in the stands and just watching, not playing. This bit is best watched on the clip!
You had the idea in your mind and the idea worked itself out into act.  As a matter of fact, every idea that we do have tends to some kind of expression. That is very often why our actions betray our ideas. Some say it doesn't make any difference what you believe at all, it all depends upon how you act. That is nonsense, because we act upon our beliefs!

If we put truth into our minds, then we will lead truly human lives.

Now, if every idea works itself out into act, see how important it is to put true ideas into our mind? We ought to treat our mind just as we treat our stomach. We do not put garbage in our stomach. So we have pure food laws. But our stomach is not nearly as important as our mind. And some people read murders, headlines whenever there is a hatchet murder, wonderful!
This reminds me of a process I went through when I had my first child. I used to like reading Patricia Cornwall serial killer books. I had to stop reading them. I felt that the spirit of the books, the type of stuff that it was putting in my head was incompatible with raising a child. I didn't want that sort of corrupting influence anywhere near my child, so I stopped reading them.
Some newspapers delight in a story of that particular kind. Well, take a pudding [did he say pudding? maybe it was something else, but it sounded like pudding!], infidelities, disloyalties, slanders, backbitings, all of that into one's head, it's all going to work itself out into act eventually. That's why it's important to keep the right kinds of thoughts in one's head. But it may be objective, but how about evil, should we not know evil? The old Greek Socrates said that evil is ignorance...
And that's the end of Part I.

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