In astronomy class yesterday, one of those moments happened when the teacher-- which was me-- and the students could all clearly see that together we were not tackling the question as we should. It was quite humorous to observe all of the students chime in with parts of the answer, but unable to coherently complete the correct answer (our minds are all in need of a little fine tuning). An adage that I often recite to the students explaining the expectation goes as follows: "Complete sentences come from complete thoughts, which come from a completely functioning intellect." Sadly, it is very easy to miss the whole picture when looking at the parts of something. More to it, we are increasingly favoring the sound bite over the symphony in our modern climate of discourse and dilapidated discovery.
This is a window into how we all interact with reality and receive knowledge: we receive parts of information, incomplete pictures or interactions that ought to summon us to consider the totality of a particular situation; and most importantly, the very meaning of the moment or knowledge. I also love reminding the students of my favorite question: What does it mean? We can know things about the world, but do we know what it means for our own universal human experience?
Of late, I have been coming back to that universal human experience. Human nature is a wonderful, yet tragic condition.
The time-tested nature of logic teaches us that incorrect premises lead to incorrect conclusions. There is no truth that can be derived from a false starting point. If we get it wrong in our first thought, then our next thought too, and ultimately how we view what is happening around us becomes ill-fated. I also absolutely love teaching children how important our first thoughts are in a given and every moment.
In terms of education, the right anthropology leads to the right education. This only means that if we truly know the universal human experience, we can only then follow others into the light of a better way of living, a real and lasting sense of fulfillment and flourishing.
One consolation that almost haunts me every moment of my own life is that I know God created me good, and it is my job to keep it that way. When I know I miss that mark a bit, He still replenishes the tank to be able to keep on doing the good for its own sake.
I am certain that without a Catholic liberal education, these truths can never be known.
Most sincerely in Christ,
Feast of Saint Luke