Education is important not simply for the implantation of specific information about specific subjects but, perhaps more importantly, for the passing on of a whole “culture” of learning, attitudes, and behaviour – a variety of distinct “languages” of understanding, including self-understanding. As Michael Oakeshott, the English philosopher, writes, “A man is his culture. What he is, he has had to learn to become.”
In learning, the good teacher initiates the student into a rich inheritance of human achievements. This inheritance consists of a variety of abilities. Each of these abilities combines “information” and “judgment.” And judgment cannot be summarised in a set of explicit propositions, it can only be “imparted.” When united with specific information, judgment generates knowledge or “ability to do,” to make or to understand and explain. It becomes, in the end, the ability to think wisely and act compassionately.
What should we look for in the well-educated person? What should we expect in our children in the educational process from nursery school through university? There is an article by John Searle, Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, which suggests to me some of the conditions which need to be met…..