1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cultivating Controversy II

Notes on a curriculum unafraid of controversy

What would be included in a high school curriculum that was at once juridically responsible and intellectually far-reaching?

I can think of no better way to preface my remarks than to quote from G.K. Chesterton's Heretics:
When the old Liberals removed the gags from all the heresies, their idea was that religious and philosophical discoveries might thus be made. Their view was that cosmic truth was so important that every one ought to bear independent testimony. The modern idea is that cosmic truth is so unimportant that it cannot matter what any one says. The former freed inquiry as men loose a noble hound; the latter frees inquiry as men fling back into the sea a fish unfit for eating. Never has there been so little discussion about the nature of men as now, when, for the first time, any one can discuss it. The old restriction meant that only the orthodox were allowed to discuss religion. Modern liberty means that nobody is allowed to discuss it http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext96/heret11.txt.
Turning loose "the hounds of inquiry" would seem to be the kind of education that is needed in our time. With respect to a juridically responsible education, a bit more research must be done. Nevertheless, here are some topics that an interesting high school ought to approach:
  • The nature of the universe
  • God (Eastern and Western views)
  • Science (what it can tell us and what it cannot)
  • Theology (what it can tell us and what it cannot)
  • The nature of the human person (from conception to death; good and evil; immortality; etc.)
  • What makes the difference between great art, music, literature, or any other subject and lousy art, music, literature, etc?
  • What it means to live a good life (beyond economic utility)
  • How to judge reality and live a good life

Naturally, we will include "required" courses, but there seems to be no reason to avoid questions that actually mean something. How this might translate into specific courses and structure of the school is still to be determined.

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