Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our English Syllabus

In "Our English Syllabus" Lewis suggests that educating is not the same as learning. Aristotle would say that education should be preparation for leisure, and Lewis goes further when he says that education should be aimed at producing the "good" man. A good man has good taste and good feeling, is interesting and interested, and happy. "That is why education seems to me so important: it actualizes that potentiality for leisure..." I like this point because it seems that we are all working and working and never making time for play. We are not meant to be working so much, because we are not the same as the dumb animals. Man is the only amateur animal; all others are professionals. They don't have leisure and don't deserve it. We were not created to be like the other animals on earth, so we should not act like them.

"Learning is not education; but it can be used educationally by those who do not propose to pursue learning all their lives." Lewis gives an example of playing a game; playing will bring pleasure but it happens to bring good health too. However, if we play a game just for the sake of getting good health we are likely to not gain good health. We can attend every class all four years, but that does not mean we will have learned anything. If we attend just for the sake of getting an education, we will not leave educated. It is more than just attending; what we put into a class is what we will get out of it. Sometimes it is hard to be passionate about a subject when Calvin forces us to take some we might not like. Nonetheless, we should study outside of class and put a strong effort into looking beyond the assignments on our own to learn, not just be educated.

My favorite part of this piece of writing is when Lewis says "For the life of learning knows nothing of this nicely balanced encyclopedic arrangement." He is talking about the liberal arts college that requires a wide range of classes to be taken, but those classes together are not found together naturally on their own. A class syllabus that tells of the deadlines and assignments required is not preparing us for the real world, because life does not act so perfectly balanced and organized. Life is random, and we will be faced with many surprises that some of us might not be prepared for. I admit that I would go crazy without a syllabus telling me the exact time and date of the assignments due; I need set standards and requirements or else I'll be worrying if I did the work correctly. However, at my job I do not have my boss telling me exactly what to do each and every day. It has been a real adjustment learning to do work on my own that I think needs to be done. A lot of us in class were saying we did not like the core curriculum at Calvin, and I used to feel that way as well. It seems like a waste of my money to be taking classes I hate. However, now that I work a pretty serious job I am realizing that I have to do a lot more than what my job title implies. Just because I work for a Pharmaceutical company doesn't mean I am only working with drugs. I have to run reports, so I have to learn how to work the computer software and how to read graphs and how to present results to others. Our jobs are not going to be limited to topics like our classes are.

The last paragraph of this is very good. I wish I could have been in a class with Lewis as my professor because I think it would have been so challenging and unlike any other class I've taken.

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