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From Intellect to Intuition - Chapter Two - The Purpose of Education
CHAPTER TWO

The Purpose of Education

"...education is undergoing important transformations. From a relatively external process of pouring in facts, it is increasingly becoming a process of evoking the deeper, generative possibilities that lie within the individual."
- H.A. Overstreet

One of the many factors which have brought humanity to its present point of development has been the growth and perfecting of its educational methods and systems. At first this was in the hands of the organized religions, but now it is practically divorced from the control of the religious bodies, and lies in the hands of the state. In the past, education was largely colored by theology and its methods were dictated by the churchmen and the priests. Now the vast body of teachers are trained by the state; any religious bias is ignored on account of the many differentiated religious bodies, and the trend of the teaching is almost entirely materialistic and scientific. In the past, both in the East and in the West, we have had the education of the more highly evolved members of the human family. Today we have mass education. In approaching any understanding of the future and (we believe) higher education, these two facts must be borne in mind for it will be in a synthesis of these two methods - individual and mass education - religious and scientific - that the way out will be found.

Like everything else in this transitional period, our educational systems are in a state of flux and [22] of change. A general feeling that much has been done to raise the level of the human mind is everywhere to be found, coupled with a deep undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the results. We are questioning whether our educational systems are achieving the widest good. We appreciate the enormous advance that has been made during the past two hundred years, and yet we wonder whether we are, after all, getting as much out of life as should be possible to people with an adequate system of training. We are smugly satisfied with our growth in knowledge, our accumulation of information, and our control of the forces of nature, and yet we hold collegiate debates as to whether we have any true culture. We teach our children to memorize an enormous array of facts, and to assimilate a vast amount of widely diversified detail, and yet we question sometimes whether we are teaching them to live more satisfactorily. We use billions of dollars to build and endow universities and colleges and yet our most farsighted educators are gravely concerned as to whether this organized education is really meeting the needs of the average citizen. It certainly seems to fail in its mission with the unusual child and with the gifted man or woman. Our mode of training our youth is standing decidedly before the bar of judgment. Only the future can settle whether some way out will not have to be found whereby the culture of the individual can proceed alongside the civilizing, through education, of the masses.

In an age of scientific achievement and of a synthesis [23] of thought in every department of human knowledge, one of our educators, Dr. Rufus M. Jones says:

"But, alas, none of these achievements makes us better men. There is no equation between bank accounts and goodness of heart. Knowledge is by no means the same thing as wisdom or nobility of spirit... The world has never seen before such an immense army of educators at work on the youth of the country, nor has there ever been before in the history of the world, such a generous outlay of money for education, both lower and higher. The total effect, however, is disappointing, and misses the central point. Our institutions of learning produce some good scholars and give a body of scientific facts to a great number. But there is a pitiable failure in the main business of education which is, or should be, the formation of character, the culture of the spirit, the building of the soul."
- Jones, Rufus M., The Need for a Spiritual Element in Education, World Unity Magazine, October 1928.

Old Mother Asia and Europe, up to the eighteenth century, trained and cultured the individual. An intensified training was given to the so-called upper classes, and to the man who showed a marked aptitude for spiritual culture. Under the Brahmanical system in the East, and in the monasteries in the West, a specialized culture was imparted to those who could profit by it, and rare individuals were produced, who, to this day, set their mark upon human thought. For this our modern Occidental world has substituted mass education. For the first time, men in their thousands are being taught to use their minds; they are beginning to assert their own [24] individualities, and to formulate their own ideas. The freedom of human thought, liberation from the control of theologies (religious or scientific) are the war cries of the present, and much has thereby been gained. The masses are beginning to do their own thinking. But it is largely mass thinking, and haphazard public opinion now moulds thought just as much as theologies formerly did. The pioneering individual has still as much difficulty in making himself felt in the present world of thought and of endeavor, as of old.

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