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On the Purpose of a Liberal Arts Education

Robot 发表于: 2009-9-26 17:47 来源: 民俗学博客-Folklore Blogs

On the Purpose of a Liberal Arts Education

  Robert Harris

  Version Date: March 14, 1991




  When they first arrive at college, many students are surprised at the general education classes they must take in order to graduate. They wonder why someone who wants to be an accountant or psychologist or television producer should study subjects that have nothing directly to do with those fields. And that is a reasonable question--Why should you study history, literature, philosophy, music, art, or any other subject outside of your major? Why should you study any subject that does not help to train you for a job? Why should you study computer programming when you will never write a program? Why study logic when all you want to do is teach first grade or be a church organist?

  In answer to this question, let's look at some of the benefits a liberal arts education and its accompanying widespread knowledge will give you.

  I. A liberal arts education teaches you how to think

  1. You will develop strength of mind and an ordered intellect. The mind is like a muscle; exercise makes it stronger and more able to grasp ideas and do intellectual work. Exercising the mind in one area--whether literature or sociology or accounting--will strengthen it for learning in other areas as well. What at first was so difficult--the habits of attention and concentration, the ability to follow arguments, and the ability to distinguish the important from the trivial and to grasp new concepts--all these become easier as the mind is exercised and enlarged by varied study.

  You will also learn that thinking has its own grammar, its own orderly structure and set of rules for good use. Many subjects help the student to develop an ordered mind, and each subject contributes in a slightly different way. A careful study of computer programming or mathematics or music or logic or good poetry--or all of these--will irresistibly demonstrate the structure of thought and knowledge and intellectual movement, and will create the habit of organized thinking and of rational analysis. Once you develop good thinking habits, you will be able to perform better in any job, but more importantly, the happier your life will be. After your class in programming or poetry you may never write another line of code or verse, but you will be a better husband or wife or preacher or businessman or psychologist, because you will take with you the knowledge of organized solutions, of hierarchical procedures, of rational sequences that can be applied to any endeavor.

  2. You will be able to think for yourself. The diverse body of knowledge you will gain from a liberal arts education, together with the tools of examination and analysis that you will learn to use, will enable you to develop your own opinions, attitudes, values, and beliefs, based not upon the authority of parents, peers, or professors, and not upon ignorance, whim, or prejudice, but upon your own worthy apprehension, examination, and evaluation of argument and evidence. You will develop an active engagement with knowledge, and not be just the passive recipient of a hundred boring facts. Your diverse studies will permit you to see the relations between ideas and philosophies and subject areas and to put each in its appropriate position.

  Good judgment, like wisdom, depends upon a thoughtful and rather extensive acquaintance with many areas of study. And good judgment requires the ability to think independently, in the face of pressures, distortions, and overemphasized truths. Advertisers and politicians rely on a half-educated public, on people who know little outside of their own specialty, because such people are easy to deceive with so-called experts, impressive technical or sociological jargon, and an effective set of logical and psychological tricks.

  Thus, while a liberal arts education may not teach you how to take out an appendix or sue your neighbor, it will teach you how to think, which is to say, it will teach you how to live. And this benefit alone makes such an education more practical and useful than any job-specific training ever could.

  3. The world becomes understandable. A thorough knowledge of a wide range of events, philosophies, procedures, and possibilities makes the phenomena of life appear coherent and understandable. No longer will unexpected or strange things be merely dazzling or confusing. How sad it is to see an uneducated mind or a mind educated in only one discipline completely overwhelmed by a simple phenomenon. How often have we all heard someone say, "I have no idea what this book is talking about" or "I just can't understand why anyone would do such a thing." A wide ranging education, covering everything from biology to history to human nature, will provide many tools for understanding.

  II. A liberal arts education teaches you how to learn.

  1. College provides a telescope, not an open and closed book. Your real education at college will not consist merely of acquiring a giant pile of facts while you are here; it will be in the skill of learning itself. No institution however great, no faculty however adept, can teach you in four years everything you need to know either now or in the future. But by teaching you how to learn and how to organize ideas, the liberal arts institution will enable you to understand new material more easily, to learn faster and more thoroughly and permanently.

  2. The more you learn, the more you can learn. Knowledge builds upon knowledge. When you learn something, your brain remembers how you learned it and sets up new pathways, and if necessary, new categories, to make future learning faster. The strategies and habits you develop also help you learn more easily.

  And just as importantly, good learning habits can be transferred from one subject to another. When a basketball player lifts weights or plays handball in preparation for basketball, no one asks, "What good is weightlifting or handball for a basketball player?" because it is clear that these exercises build the muscles, reflexes, and coordination that can be transferred to basketball--building them perhaps better than endless hours of basketball practice would. The same is true of the mind. Exercise in various areas builds brainpower for whatever endeavor you plan to pursue.

  3. Old knowledge clarifies new knowledge. The general knowledge supplied by a liberal arts education will help you learn new subjects by one of the most common methods of learning--analogy. As George Herbert noted, people are best taught by using something they are familiar with, something they already understand, to explain something new and unfamiliar. The more you know and are familiar with, the more you can know, faster and more easily. Many times the mind will create its own analogies, almost unconsciously, to teach itself about the unfamiliar by means of the familiar. It can be said then, that the liberal arts education creates an improvement of perception and understanding. (This process explains why the freshman year of college is often so difficult--students come with such a poverty of intellectual abilities and knowledge that learning anything is very difficult. After a year of struggle, however, an informational base has been created which makes further learning easier. The brain has come up to speed and has been given something to work with.)

  4. General knowledge enhances creativity. Knowledge of many subject areas provides a cross fertilization of ideas, a fullness of mind that produces new ideas and better understanding. Those sudden realizations, those strokes of genius, those solutions seemingly out of nowhere, are really almost always the product of the mind working unconsciously on a problem and using materials stored up through long study and conscious thought. The greater the storehouse of your knowledge, and the wider its range, the more creative you will be. The interactions of diversified knowledge are so subtle and so sophisticated that their results cannot be predicted. When Benjamin Franklin flew a kite into a storm to investigate the properties of electricity, he did not foresee the wonderful inventions that future students of his discoveries would produce--the washing machines, microwave ovens, computers, radar installations, electric blankets, or television sets. Nor did many of the inventors of these devices foresee them while they studied Franklin's work.

  "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." --Thomas Edison

  "Chance favors the prepared mind." --Proverb

  III. A liberal arts education allows you to see things whole

  1. A context for all knowledge. A general education supplies a context for all knowledge and especially for one's chosen area. Every field gives only a partial view of knowledge of things and of man, and, as John Henry Newman has noted, an exclusive or overemphasis on one field of study distorts the understanding of reality. As one armchair philosopher has said, "When the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." All knowledge is one, a unified wholeness, and every field of study is but a piece or an angle or a way of partitioning this knowledge. Thus, to see how one's chosen area fits into the whole, to see the context of one's study, a general, liberal education is not merely desirable, but necessary.

  2. A map of the universe. A well-rounded education, a study of the whole range of knowledge, produces an intellectual panorama, a map of the universe, which shows the relative disposition of things and ideas. Such a systematic view of reality provides an understanding of hierarchies and relationships--which things are more valuable or important than others, how one thing is dependent on another, and what is associated with or caused by something else. As abstract as this benefit may sound, it is just this orientation that will give you a stable foundation for a sane and orderly life. Many people waste their lives in endless confusion and frustration because they have no context for any event or decision or thought they might encounter.

  3. Life itself is a whole, not divided into majors. Most jobs, most endeavors, really require more knowledge than that of one field. We suffer every day from the consequences of not recognizing this fact. The psychologist who would fully understand the variety of mental problems his patients may suffer will need a wide-ranging knowledge if he is to recognize that some problems are biological, some are spiritual, some are the product of environment, and so on. If he never studies biology, theology, or sociology, how will he be able to treat his patients well? Shall he simply write them off as hopelessly neurotic?

  The doctor who believes that a knowledge of cell biology and pharmacology and diagnosis will be all-sufficient in his practice will help very few patients unless he also realizes that more than eighty percent of the typical doctor's patients need emotional ministration either in addition to or instead of physical treatment. The doctor who listens, and who is educated enough to understand, will be the successful one. A doctor who has studied history or literature will be a better doctor than one who has instead read a few extra medical books.

  The preacher, who would produce effective, understandable, memorable sermons that will reach his flock, will need a thorough knowledge of--yes--English composition and logic, that he might preach in an orderly, clear, rational manner. As writing and thinking skills have declined in recent years, so has the quality of preaching. In fact, you have probably noticed how disorganized, rambling, and consequently boring many young preachers are today--how many uncertain trumpet tones are sounding now. The preacher may be a brilliant theologian, but as long as he believes that the only rule of preaching is, "Talk for twenty minutes, say 'Amen' and sit down," he will continue to be ineffective.

  IV. A liberal arts education enhances wisdom and faith

  1. General knowledge will plant the seeds of wisdom. It will help you see and feel your defects and to change yourself, to be a better citizen, spouse, human being. Wisdom is seeing life whole--meaning that every realm of knowledge must be consulted to discover a full truth. Knowledge leads to wise action, to the service of God and to an understanding of human nature: "With all your knowledge, get understanding" is the Biblical precept.

  John Henry Newman wrote that the pursuit of knowledge will "draw the mind off from things which will harm it," and added that it will renovate man's nature by rescuing him "from that fearful subjection to sense which is his ordinary state." This point--that knowledge will help a person to move from an infatuation with externals and toward worthy considerations--has been often repeated by philosophers for at least three thousand years. And if you consider for a moment the unhappiness caused by our society's slavery to sense and appearance, I think you will agree that a deliverance from that is certainly desirable.

  "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." --John 7:24

  2. General knowledge is an ally of faith. All truth is God's truth; why should we ignore or depreciate an ally, a part of God's wholeness of revelation? The more you learn about the creation, in astronomy, botany, physics, geology, whatever, the more you will praise the miracles he has performed. How can an uneducated man praise God for the wonders of crystallization or capillary attraction or metamorphosis or quasars or stalactites?

  General knowledge provides an active understanding of the Gospel and of how it intertwines with human nature, the desires and needs of the heart, the hunger of the soul, and the questions of the mind. The more you learn about man, from history, psychology, sociology, literature, or wherever, the more you will see the penetrating insights and the exact identifications the Bible contains. Some students have remarked that, yes, they always "believed" the Bible, but they have been surprised by how modern and accurate its portrait of humanity really is.

  V. A liberal arts education makes you a better teacher

  But, you say, I'm not going to be a teacher. To which I say, yes you are. You may not be a school teacher, but you might be a preacher, journalist, social worker, supervisor, Sunday School teacher, lawyer, or missionary. Each of these roles is essentially that of a teacher. But more than this, you will almost certainly be someone's friend, a husband or wife and probably a parent. As friend, spouse, and parent you will be a teacher, sharing your life's knowledge and understanding with another daily and intimately. In fact, any time two human beings get together and open their mouths, teaching and learning are going on. Attitudes, perceptions, understandings, generalizations, reasons, information--all these are revealed if not discussed. It should be your desire, as it is your duty to God and to man, to make the quality, richness, and truth of your teaching as great as possible.

  VI. A liberal arts education will contribute to your happiness

  1. A cultivated mind enjoys itself and the arts. The extensive but increasingly neglected culture of western civilization provides endless material for pleasure and improvement, "sweetness and light" as it has been traditionally called (or by Horace, dulce et utile--the sweet and useful). A deep appreciation of painting or sculpture or literature, of symbolism, wit, figurative language, historical allusion, character and personality, the True and the Beautiful, this is open to the mind that can understand and enjoy it.

  2. Knowledge makes you smarter and smarter is happier. Recent research has demonstrated that contrary to previous ideas, intelligence can actually increase through study and learning. Educated and intelligent people have, statistically, happier marriages, less loneliness, lower rates of depression and mental illness, and a higher reported degree of satisfaction with life.

  VII. The uniqueness of a Christian liberal arts education

  John Henry Newman wrote, "In order to have possession of the truth at all, we must have the whole truth; and no one science, no two sciences, no one family of sciences, nay, not even all secular science, is the whole truth. . . ." Only a Christian education can provide the missing elements of theological knowledge and revealed truth, to fill out the wholeness of truth. Moreover, the Christian liberal arts education alone provides a standard of measure and a point of verification for the knowledge and ideas you will encounter now and for the rest of your life. The acquisition of knowledge in a Christian context gives that knowledge a meaning and purpose it would not otherwise have. Often facts offered in a secular environment are sterile and disconnected because they are presented as existing only in themselves, apart from any sense of hierarchy, or any moral or spiritual purpose or implications. But our faith--our knowledge of God and his word--provides an essential organizing and clarifying framework because we can see every facet of truth in the context of the author of truth.

  Christianity is not an addendum to life or knowledge, but the true organizing principle of existence, informing every endeavor with value and every person with purpose and direction. It alone answers with truth and confidence the five great questions that must be answered before life can progress meaningfully:

  Who am I?

  Why am I here?

  Where did I come from?

  Where am I going?

  What is the purpose of life?

  Only when these questions have been correctly answered can the next set be correctly answered also:

  Why should I act?

  How should I act?

  What is good?

  What is to be sought?

  The answers each person gives to these questions will determine the quality and effectiveness, or perhaps the misery and despair, of his life. By showing the student how to find the right answers to these questions, the Christian liberal arts institution makes more meaningful and useful all the rest of the knowledge it offers.

  VIII. Pertinent Quotations

  1. From The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman

  "[The purpose of a liberal arts education is to] open the mind, to correct it, to refine it, to enable it to know, and to digest, master, rule, and use its knowledge, to give it power over its own faculties, application, flexibility, method, critical exactness, sagacity, resource, address, [and] eloquent expression. . . ."

  "A habit of mind is formed which lasts through life, of which the attributes are, freedom, equitableness, calmness, moderation, and wisdom. . . ."

  "Knowledge is capable of being its own end. Such is the constitution of the human mind, that any kind of knowledge, if it be really such, is its own reward."

  "I hold very strongly that the first step in intellectual training is to impress upon a boy's mind the idea of science, method, order, principle, and system; of rule and exception, of richness and harmony."

  "There is no science but tells a different tale, when viewed as a portion of a whole, from what it is likely to suggest when taken by itself, without the safeguard, as I may call it, of others."

  "If his [a student's] reading is confined simply to one subject, however such division of labour may favour the advancement of a particular pursuit . . . certainly it has a tendency to contract his mind."

  "A truly great intellect . . . is one which takes a connected view of old and new, past and present, far and near, and which has an insight into the influence of all these one on another; without which there is no whole, and no centre."

  "General culture of mind is the best aid to professional and scientific study, and educated men can do what illiterate cannot; and the man who has learned to think and to reason and to compare and to discriminate and to analyze, who has refined his taste, and formed his judgment, and sharpened his mental vision, will not indeed at once be a lawyer, or a pleader, or an orator, or a statesman, or a physician, or a good landlord, or a man of business, or a soldier, or an engineer, or a chemist, or a geologist, or an antiquarian, but he will be placed in that state of intellect in which he can take up any one of the sciences or callings I have referred to, or any other for which he has a taste or special talent, with an ease, a grace, a versatility, and a success, to which another is a stranger. In this sense, then, and as yet I have said but a very few words on a large subject, mental culture is emphatically useful."

  "One thing is unquestionable, that the elements of general reason are not to be found fully and truly expressed in any one kind of study; and that he who would wish to know her idiom, must read it in many books."

  2. Others' Views

  "The whole object of education is, or should be, to develop mind. The mind should be a thing that works." --Sherwood Anderson

  "More is experienced in one day in the life of a learned man than in the whole lifetime of an ignorant man." --Seneca

  "Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants." --John Gardner


Source:
http://www.virtualsalt.com/libarted.htm

最新回复

Robot at 2009-9-26 17:48:25
论通识教育的目的

罗伯特•哈里斯 著 吴万伟译 

刊发时间:2009-08-18 16:18:04 光明网-光明观察


  刚上大学时,许多学生在得知必须上通识教育课程才能毕业后往往非常吃惊。他们感到奇怪,毕业后想当会计、心理学家、电视制作人的人为什么必须学习一些与自己的专业没有任何直接关系的课程呢?这个问题是有道理的,为什么要在专业之外学习历史、文学、哲学、音乐、艺术等课程呢?为什么必须学一些并不能帮助找到工作的课程呢?我就想当小学老师或者教堂的管风琴手,为什么要学习逻辑学呢?

  为了回答这个问题,让我们看看通识教育的价值以及伴随而来的广泛知识。

  I.通识教育教会你如何思考

  1.培养你的思考能力、条理性和智慧。心智就像肌肉,越锻炼就越强壮,越能领会观点,胜任智力工作。不管是文学、社会学还是会计学的具体领域的心智锻炼都将增强你学习其他学科领域的能力。起初看来很难的东西如注意力集中的习惯、抓住论证思路、区分主次、领会新概念的能力等,在你通过学习不同学科而锻炼和扩展了心智以后就都变得容易了。

  你会了解到思考有自身的规范、秩序结构和使用规则。许多学科都以不同的方式帮助学生养成有序思考的习惯。认真学习电脑编程或数学或音乐或逻辑或诗歌或任何一门学科,都不可避免地帮助你的知识结构形成和思想的发展,养成系统思考和理性分析的习惯。一旦你养成良好的思考习惯,你就能够胜任每一种工作,更重要的是,你的生活会更幸福。你在上了编程课或者诗歌课后,或许永远也不会再编一个程序或写一首诗,但是你可能成为更好的丈夫或者妻子、牧师、商人、心理学家,因为你随身携带了可以应用在任何行动中的系统的解决办法、等级分明的程序、和理性知识。

  2.帮助你学会自己思考。你从通识教育中获得的众多知识和掌握的考察和分析工具将使你拥有自己的意见、态度、价值、观念,它们不是来自父母、同伴、教授的权威,不是建立在无知、异想天开、或偏见的基础上,而是根据自己可靠的理解和考察、论证和证据的评价而得来的。你不再是众多琐碎无聊的事实的消极接受者,而是主动寻求知识间关系的探索者。你的多学科学习将促使你看到观点、哲学、主题领域的关系,确定它们各自的适当位置。

  良好的判断力像智慧一样依靠善于思考和众多领域的知识。良好的判断力要求你在面对压力、扭曲和过分强调的真理面前坚持独立思考。广告商和政客依靠的就是受到半拉子教育的民众,那些对自己的专业之外所知甚少的人,因为这样的人最容易上专家的当。这些所谓的专家喜欢用花哨的技术或社会学专业术语,以及一整套的逻辑学和心理学把戏来忽悠民众。

  因此,尽管通识教育或许不能教给你如何切除阑尾或者起诉你的邻居,但它将教会你如何思考,也就是说教会你如何生活。单单这个好处就让这样的教育比任何具体的职业培训更实际、更有用。

  3.世界变得可以理解了。一旦你拥有了对众多事件、哲学、程序、可能性的知识,就会发现生活中的各种现象变得连贯有序和可以理解了。意外的、奇怪的事不再是让人眼乱缭乱、困惑不解。看到一个文盲或者除本专业外对其他一无所知的人被一简单的现象弄得伤透脑筋,这是多么让人伤心啊。我们常常听到有人说“我不知道这本书在讲些什么”或者“我真的不明白为什么有人做这样的事”。包含生物学、历史、人性等任何东西的通识教育将为我们提供众多理解工具。

  II.通识教育教会你如何学习

  1.大学提供的是一个望远镜,而不是打开的或合上的书。你在大学获得的真正教育不是在那里掌握的一堆死的知识,而是学习技能本身。不管大学多么有名,教授多么厉害,都不能在四年里教给你现在或者将来需要了解的任何东西。但是通过教会你如何学习、如何组织观点,文科学院将帮助你更容易地理解新东西,更快、更彻底和更持久的学习。

  2.学的东西越多,你能学习的东西就越多。知识是建立在已有知识的基础上的。当你学习某些东西时,你的头脑会记住你是如何学习的,必要的时候确立新道路、新类别以便让未来的学习更快捷。学习中使用的策略和养成的习惯也能让你的学习更容易。

  同样重要的是,良好的学习习惯能够从一个学科转移到另一个学科。篮球运动员通过举重或者打手球为打篮球做准备的时候,没有人会问“篮球运动员举重和打手球有什么好处呢?”因为很明显,这些练习锻炼肌肉,提高灵活性、协作能力等,这些都可以转移到打篮球上,甚至比整天无休止地练习篮球的效果可能还好些。思想同样是如此。在众多不同学科的练习将增强你的思考力,有利于你准备从事的任何工作。

  3.旧知识理清新知识。通识教育提供的笼统知识通过最常用的学习方法“类比法”帮助你学习新学科。正如乔治?赫伯特(GeorgeHerbert)注意到的,人们通过使用熟悉的、已理解的东西来解释不熟悉的新东西,效果往往最好。你知道和熟悉的东西越多,你能掌握的东西就越多,学习也能变得更快更容易。心智在很多时候几乎是在无意识的情况下创造类比,用熟悉的东西来理解不熟悉的东西。可以这样说,通识教育帮助改善你的观念和理解。(这个过程解释了为什么大学一年级新生因为思维能力和知识的欠缺学任何东西都会很困难。但是在经过一年的斗争后,知识基础已经创立,进一步学习就变得容易了。大脑工作速度提高,因为有了思考的东西)。

  4.笼统的知识增强创造性。众多不同学科的知识提供了跨学科观点的孕育,心智的完整性有助于产生新观点,加深理解。那些突然的顿悟、天才的火花、看来没有源头的解决办法实际上是思想对某个问题的无意识工作的结果,或者是使用了因为长期学习和积极思考而储存在大脑中的材料的结果。你的知识储备越多,知识领域越广泛,你的创造性就越大。众多不同知识的相互作用是非常微妙和复杂的,结果常常难以预测。当本杰明?富兰克林放风筝来研究电流性质的时候,他并没有预见到后来的精彩发明,那些得益于他的发现的学生制造了洗衣机、微波炉、电脑、雷达装置、电热毯、电视机等。而发明这些东西的人在学习富兰克林著作的时候也并没有预见到这些。

  “天才是百分之一的灵感加上百分之九十九的汗水。“—托马斯?爱迪生

  “机会青睐那些有准备的人。”–谚语

  III.通识教育让你看到事情的全部。

  1.所有知识的背景通识教育为所有知识提供了背景,尤其是一个人选择的专业领域。正如纽曼约翰?亨利?纽曼(JohnHenryNewman)指出的,每个领域都只给出了人或事物的某一方面的知识,排他性和过分强调某个专业研究领域将扭曲人们对现实的理解。正如躺在椅子上的哲学家说的“当你拥有的唯一工具是锤子时,你倾向于把任何问题都当做钉子”。所有知识是个整体,统一的整体,每个研究领域不过似乎其中一块儿,是实践这知识的一个角度或者一个方法。因此,看到一个人挑选的专业适用于整体,看到专业研究的背景,通识教育不仅是可欲的而且是必要的。

  2.宇宙地图全面的教育,对知识整体的学习将产生智慧的全景图,一张显示事物和观点相对位置的宇宙地图。现实的这种系统论观点帮助人们理解等级和关系,某些东西比其他东西更宝贵或更重要,哪些东西与其他东西有关或是其他东西所引起。这个好处听起来或许很抽象,但是正是这种定位给你一个稳定的基础让你过理性和有秩序的生活。许多人把生命浪费在无休止的困惑和沮丧中,因为他们不了解所遭遇到的事或决定或思想的背景。

  3.生活本身是个整体,并不能分成各个专业。大部分工作、大部分事业实际上需要不止一个领域的知识。我们每天都受到因为没有认识到这个事实而带来的后果的折磨。高明的心理学家明白病人的众多心理问题有不同的根源,有些是生物学的,有些是精神的,有些是环境的,他肯定有广泛而丰富的知识。如果他从来没有学过生物学,神学、社会学,他能够治疗病人的疾病吗?他会不会简单地写到这个人疯狂到无可救药的地步了吗?

  相信拥有细胞生物学、药学、诊断的知识就足以行医的医生只能帮助很少的病人,除非他也认识到80%以上的病人都需要感情方面的治疗,作为身体治疗的补充或者替代品。善于倾听,善解人意,教育良好的医生将取得成功。学过历史和文学的医生肯定比额外多读过几本医学书籍的医生更好。

  能做生动感人、清晰明白、令人印象深刻的弥撒的牧师肯定能抓住信徒的心,这需要牧师拥有英文作文、逻辑的知识,否则就不可能用有条理的、清晰的、合理的方式讲道。近年来随着写作和思考技能的衰落,讲道的质量也衰落了。实际上,你可能注意到当今很多年轻牧师的讲道是非常混乱、拉杂、和乏味的,而且听起来不无吹嘘的语调。一个牧师或许是个出色的神学家,但只要他相信传道的唯一准则是“讲20分钟,说阿门,然后坐下”,他的讲道肯定没有效果。

  IV.通识教育增进智慧和忠诚

  1.笼统的知识种下智慧的种子。它帮助你看到和感觉到自己的缺陷,帮助你改变自己成为更好的公民、更好的配偶、更好的人。智慧把生活看作整体,意思是要发现充分真理的话,就必须探求每个知识领域。知识让你明智地行动,服务上帝,理解人性。“有知识,得聪明”是圣经的训令。

  纽曼写到对知识的追求将“让心智远离对心智造成危害的东西”,他补充说它还能帮助人“摆脱在通常情况下对感官的可怕屈服”而改善人性。这一点---知识将帮助人摆脱对外在因素的着迷,转而考虑让人敬佩的东西---被至少三千年来的哲学家们一再重复。如果你想想我们这个屈服于感官享受和形象塑造的社会造成的不幸,我相信你会同意从现实解脱肯定是值得渴望的事。

  不可按外貌断定是非,总要按公平断定是非—约翰福音第7章第24节

  2.笼统的知识是信仰的盟友。所有真理都是上帝的真理。我们为什么要忽略或者贬低作为上帝启示整体的一部分的盟友呢?你对创造了解得越多,无论是天文学、植物学、物理学、地理学,你就越能赞美上帝创造的奇迹。一个没有受过教育的人怎么能称赞如结晶体、毛细血管吸引、质变、钟乳石等上帝的奇迹呢?

  笼统的知识帮助你更好地理解福音,认识到它是如何与人性、人的欲望和需要、灵魂的饥饿、思想问题等结合起来。你对人性、历史学、心理学、社会学、文学等了解得越多,你就越能体会到圣经的穿透一切的洞察力和确切证明。有些学生已经指出,他们总是“相信”圣经,但它对人性的描述的深刻和准确一直让他们感到惊讶。

  V.通识教育让你成为好老师

  但是,你可能说我并不想当老师啊。对此,我想说你要当老师。你可能不是学校老师,但是你可能称为牧师、记者、社会工作者、管理者、主日学校老师、律师、某个活动的倡导者。这些角色中的任何一个实际上都是老师。不仅仅如此,你肯定要称为它他人的朋友、丈夫、妻子、父母。作为朋友、配偶、父母,你是个老师,要把你的人生知识和理解传达给他人,与他们进行日常的亲密的交流。实际上,任何两个人在一起张嘴说话,教学的活动就开始了。态度、观念、理解、总结、推理、信息所有这些都要被表达出来,如果不是讨论的话。尽可能地改善你的教学质量、丰富性和真理性肯定是你的愿望,就像你对上帝和人的义务一样。

  VI.通识教育将有助于你幸福

  1.精心培养的心灵会享受自己和艺术。西方文明广泛的但越来越被忽视的文化提供了快乐和提高的无尽养料。正如传统上说的“甜蜜与光明”(或者贺拉斯的“甜蜜与用途”(dulceetutile),绘画、雕塑、文学、象征主义、风趣、修辞的语言、历史典故、人物与性格、真与美等对那些能理解和欣赏它的人来说是提高修养的手段,也是快乐的源泉。

  2.知识让你更聪明,更聪明让你更幸福。最近的研究表明和从前的观点相反,智慧实际上是通过学习和研究而增加的。从统计学上看,受教育的,有智慧的人拥有更美满的婚姻,孤独更少,忧郁和心理疾病的比例更低,对生活的满意度更高。

  VII.基督教通识教育的独特性

  纽曼写到“为了拥有真理,我们必须拥有完整的真理,不是一门科学,也不是两门科学,不是一个科学家族,也不是所有世俗科学,而是完整的真理。”只有基督教教育能提供神学知识和启示真理所缺失的因素以便构成完整的真理。而且,基督教通识教育提供了判断和证实的标准,用以验证你在当前和以后生活中遭遇到的知识和观点。在基督教背景下获得的知识给予知识意义和目的,这是在其他情况下所无法获得的。在世俗环境下得到的事实常常是贫瘠的,不连贯的,因为它们只是作为自身而呈现出来,脱离了先后次序或任何道德和精神目的或含义。但是我们的信仰,我们对上帝及其话语的知识提供了基本的组织和分析框架,因为我们能在真理作者的参照下看待真理的每个侧面。

  基督教不是生活或者知识的补遗,而是生存的真正组织原则,告诉我们每个事业的价值和每个人的人生目的和方向。它用真理和信心回答了人生五大问题,这是每个人要度过有意义的人生所必须回答的问题:

  我是谁?

  我为什么在这里?

  我从哪里来?

  我要到哪里去?

  人生的目的是什么?

  只有当我们正确回答了这些问题后,才有可能正确回答下面一组问题:

  我为什么要做事?

  我该怎么做事?

  善是什么?

  应该追求什么?

  每个人对这些问题的回答将决定他的人生质量、效益、苦难、绝望。通过向学生显示如何找到这些问题的答案,基督教文科学院让它提供的知识更有意义更有用。

  VIII.永久的名言

  1.选自纽曼的《大学的理念》

  “[通识教育的目的]是打开心灵、纠正它、净化它、让它能认识、消化、掌握、统治、使用其知识、给予它控制其才能的力量,具有应用性、灵活性、方法、批评的准确性、聪慧、谋略、举止、流利的口才。”

  “心灵之训练,经由这种教育的训练,可以养成一种心灵的习惯,这种心灵习惯贯传一生,其属性则为自由、公平、沉着、稳健与智慧。。。”

  “知识能成为自身的目的。这就是人的心智的本性,任何种类的知识如果真是这样的话,知识本身就是对自己的报答。”

  “我坚信智慧训练的第一步是在孩子心里留下科学、方法、秩序、原则、体系、原则和例外、多样与和谐等思想。”

  “如果从整体的一部分来看的话,没有哪门科学不是在讲不同的故事,不同于从自身的角度看到的东西,正如我说的,没有其他学科保护的具体科学所隐含的东西。”

  “如果他的(学生)阅读局限在一个学科,不管这个分工多么有利于具体追求的进步,当然有限制其思想的倾向。”

  “一个真正的知识分子是采取新与旧,过去与现在,远与近相互联系的观点的人,有洞察力看到所有这些因素的相互影响,没有这样的眼光,就不可能有整体,不可能有核心。”

  “笼统的文化修养是专业和科学研究的最好助手,受教育者能做文盲不能做的事,学会思考、推理、对比、区分、分析,能够陶冶情操品味、形成自己的判断、眼光更加敏锐犀利的人将不仅仅是个律师、申诉人、演说家、政治家、医生、好的地主、商人、士兵、工程师、化学家、神学家、古文物收藏家,他还能够具有一种思想状态,其中,他会从事我提到的任何一种科学或者事业或者其他有兴趣或者特别才能的行业,有优雅、自如、多才多艺和成功的信心,而另一个人对这些来说是完全陌生的东西。在这个意义上,正如我有关大话题的几句话,思想文化是非常有用的。”

  “有一点是毫无疑问的,笼统的推理因素不能在任何一门学科里被充分地发现或真正地表达,任何一个希望知道自己习语的人必须在许多书中阅读它。”

  2.其他名言

  “教育的整体目标是或应该是培养心智。心智应该是起作用的东西。”—美国著名作家舍伍德?安德森(SherwoodAnderson)

  “博学者一天所经历的东西比无知者一辈子所经历的东西还多。”–古罗马哲学家塞涅卡(Seneca)

  “今天的大部分教育是非常无效的。我们常常给年轻人摘下来的鲜花,实际上我们应该教会他们如何种植自己的植物。”—作家约翰?加德纳(JohnGardner)

  译自:OnthePurposeofaLiberalArtsEducationRobertHarris

  http://www.virtualsalt.com/libarted.htm