Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The End of Christian Education

Education has been a subject of the mind, and has not (traditionally) concerned itself with what Smith calls "material practices." (28) It is through these rituals or practices that we get to understand the world. I happen to like the idea of a "social imaginary," a term that is not Smith's but one I've used in the past (much to the chagrin of those listening to me use the term). This "social imaginary" can be thought of as the ways that we perceive things around us (Smith calls them "habits of perception"), and we often don't question it. (28n12) For Smith, education is trapped in such an imaginary, that it is a work of the mind rather than something that is enacted upon by liturgies, ways of acting and being formed. Smith uses an example from George Orwell who, in The Road to Wigan Pier, describes class difference in England as being formed not by intellectual teaching, but by olfactory understanding: "The lower classes smell." (30; Smith is quoting Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (London: Penguin, 2001), 119). He ends this section with a compelling question:
Could we offer a Christian education that is loaded with all sorts of Christian ideas and information--and yet be offering a formation that runs counter to that vision? (31)

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