Education Driven By Beauty
Written By: Robert Batch
My wife Amanda and I are currently visiting her aunt and uncle in the Sacramento area. It has been an enlightening time so far as there has been a lot of conversation in regards to education and what drives education. Aunt Christy is a believer and is personally invested in the value of homeschooling which we were discussing over coffee this morning and there was one line that stuck with me:
Education is driven by beauty
What a crazy line to read, not to mention to say out loud! As a teacher in a private school, I could not be in more agreement with her. I decided it is an appropriate time to write a piece on this as summer begins to wind down and the school year is upon us. Here are three simple and yet somewhat deeper "takeaways" from this line after giving it some thought.
#1) Desire is at the core of the human being: As human beings we have an intrinsic desire to know and to love. Not only how to love but also to receive love. Saint Thomas Aquinas describes desire in the follow text from the Summa
It is impossible for any created good to constitute man’s happiness. For happiness is that perfect good which entirely satisfies one’s desire; otherwise it would not be the ultimate end, if something yet remained to be desired. Now the object of the will, i.e., of man’s desire, is what is universally good; just as the object of the intellect is what is universally true."
(Summa Theologica Part 2. Q.1. Article 8)
Education is to be a driving force to truth and a passageway for the human being to obtain knowledge that leads us to a higher truth. The question is how are we getting our students there? How are teachers getting students to the point of universal truth and transcendental beauty. There must be an active pursuit of beauty and not choosing to become complacent in our teaching of knowledge and portraying of truth. It is often times that what is beautiful and true is outside of our comfort zone.
#2) A Desire To Be Uncomfortable: Before I move forward I have to state that teaching is a great grace and very rewarding, however I believe a good teacher will continuously try new things that is not necessarily in the zone of comfort. Education is a place where not only the teacher but also the students should be stretched and formed in a way where they are encouraged to critically think and live out a virtuous life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the word virtue as the following:
A habitual and firm disposition to do the good. (CCC 1803)
#3) A Desire To Pursue Truth, Beauty & Goodness: Through divine revelation God made it intentional to reveal himself through truth, beauty, and goodness. It is through this revelation that we are not left "out of the loop" or in the dark. However, we are very well informed of our primary responsibility as educators to guide our students through education that is driven through what is true, what is beautiful, and what is good. It is through this revelation of truth that we discover the fullness of man through the revelation of man himself.
In Conclusion: Let us be sure as educators no matter where you are that we ask ourselves the following questions: "What is driving our content in the classroom?" "What is encouraging us to encourage the students to have the deeply written desire to know goodness, truth and beauty, and avoid the ugliness of sin?" It is my prayer as we move into this new school year that we delve into the beauty of truth let it drive our content that we are teaching our students.
About The Author
Robert Batch holds a degree in Communications with a Minor in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, and is currently pursuing a M.A. in Theology online through Franciscan. He has a passion for speaking, lecturing, and teaching about the faith and is currently teaching high school theology. He resides in Southern California with his wife Amanda, and daughter Cecilia