essay, discussion of education and values, and of choice and relation; February 1979
|The Importance of Education in Promoting Personal Growth February 1979.
I. Education should be concerned with personal growth.
The first question that arises is "what is the meaning of personal growth?" If this important definition is missing, the creation of a definition in the reader's mind is implicit. This reader had defined the idea of personal growth as the further development of the intellectual and emotional capabilities of a particular human being. As broad a definition as this may be; it does rule out the idea of personal growth in inches and pounds, thereby eliminating the need for the discussion of whether or not education should in some way be concerned with the physical development of human beings. Except for physical education, sports and fitness; that is.
Before the statement can generate an opinion in the reader, the definition of education must be clarified. The reader my loosely define education as the institution that imparts knowlege and skills to human beings. Likewise, the idea of concern must be so treated. According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, concen = "to pertain or relate to".
Using the above information, the reader may rephrase the original statement to read: "The institution that imparts knowlege and skills to human beings should pertain or relate to the further development of the intellectual and emotional capabilities of human beings. Armed with this clarification, the reader can now begin to formulate an opinion.
The phrasing of the statement insinuates that education does not promptly concern itself with personal growth by seaning it should be concerned. The reader with his newly-formulated definitions must decide whether or not he agrees with this evaluation. As education by definition pertains to the development of the intellectual and emotional capabilities of human beings. Therefore, education by definition IS concerned with personal growth. Note: a possible initial reaction my be to say that although education by definition deals with the intellectual development of human beings, it does not encompass the emotional development of human beings. However, through the imparting of knowledge and skills, a person learns to artistically, and even athletically. He is also exposed to emotional concepts and moral issues which provoke an emotional response. Emotional development is an integral part of education.
II. There is really no point to a college education that focuses primarily on the acquisition of cognitive knowledge. The primary focus should be on who you are and how to relate to the world around you.
Ignoring the fact that these statements are based on an assumption presented as fact saying that a college education focuses primarily on the acquisition of cognitive knowledge; the reader may go on to deal with the inherent contradiction in these statements. The suggestion to shift the primary focus of education from the acquisition of cognitive knowedge to self-definition and the relation of self to the world is a misguided one at best. Self-definition and world knowledge are products of the cognitive knowledge presented in education. The exposure to other peoples, ideas, cultures, governments, religions, technologies, histories, languages, geographies, economies, social structures, philosophies, and the arts provides a world view that encourages self-definition and understanding. In focusing on the acquisition of cognitive knowledge, college education in in fact focusing on self-definition and an understanding the relation of that self to the world around it.
III. Liberal arts courses are interesting, perhaps even important; but not if they don't help you know more about the self that will be your "partner" for the rest of your life.
Again the statement is flawed by an unsupported assumption. It says that liberal arts courses do not "help you know more about the self that will be your 'partner' for the rest of your life." The preceding paragraph deals with the idea that a college education provides and understanding and self-definition through its liberal arts courses. Furthermore, besides helping a person to define himself, liberal arts courses enrich that person's self-definition and understanding by focusing him outside of himself, so that he can learn to understnad that there is more to life than himself. This prevents him from making a mistake similar to the one of Copernicus, who believed that the sun revolved around the earth instead of vice versa. The possessor of a liberal arts education is unlikely to believe that the rest of the world revolves aound him and is better equipped to deal with the concepts that go on from there. Liberal arts courses are important in developing "the self that will be your 'partner' for the rest of your life."
IV. Can you make someone else love you?
Offering the ride is all that Person B can do; it is up to Person A to respond to that simulus in whatever manner he chooses.
The example of Person A and Person B also holds true when applied to making someone love you and in trying to change another person. Person B can make the situation as conducive as possible to the desired response, but the final decision on how to repond always belongs to Person A.
In relationships among people, ther is always some choice invoved; a decision must be made. While (in an isolated instance) the person who is interacting with the individual making a specific decision my influence that decision; the ultimate choice is still made by the individual. Therefore, to make someone else happy, to make people love you, or to change other people is an impossibe assumption; because it fails to consider the existence of at least two wills that are involved in the process.