Pewpoint Too

Mother Cabrini: The Essence of Education

       Education is a word frequently debated, liberally funded by government and states, debunked by many, yet without doubt of absolute necessity.

      Perhaps the most important question that should be raised is the definition of the term "necessity" as regards education.

     As thinking people who have minds capable of thought process that lead to decision that leads to actions accompanied by words and feelings, it is not a bright scenario to think of generations of people growing up lacking the skills to make decisions, follow them through, etc., if they are ignorant of their own capabilities, etc.

     However, there is more to education than the mere academic nature of it which instructs the person (primarily children) in the skills of reading, writing, thinking, math, science, history and the like. These are all find, for they can develop the mind, which is accord with God’s Will. However, knowledge that is not given parameters, that is not without instruction of its own is to provide any person who enters an academic institution to find him or her self in a situation which leads to an unbridled thirst for all knowledge, even if that knowledge is harmful to the self, to others, to society as a whole.

     What parameters, then, should there be on the role of and purpose of education in a society. Is the nature of education merely to develop the mind, not caring whether the consequences of acquired knowledge are beneficial to the whole, or the individual? If care for society as a whole and a person individually is part of the entire education process, then careful thought must be given as to where the boundaries are to be laid, where the institution of education operation as a whole, and the individuals engaged in education either as instructors or learners realize and accept that the boundaries are there to protect, rather than hinder. There are certain minds that are, after a period of primary instruction, education, more than capable of going beyond the boundaries into greater depths of knowledge, understanding, implementation, etc. This is not for all, as is God’s Will, not man’s. The self-imposed boundaries are to benefit society, to benefit all of mankind, not to become a form of tyranny.

     We argue incessantly in this country about separation of church and state, which puts education and the knowledge it offers out there as a grab bag for any and all, without any guidelines, perimeters, boundaries, or the like. We make education a god, and put the God who gave us the absolute right and necessity to educate out of the picture, when He is the very One who is the boundary, the safeguard, the guidepost beyond which we do not venture lest we enter into dangerous waters that might lead us to the abyss.

     Do we educate today in order to teach our children, all children, to live according to a Supreme Authority, God, who has given us the necessary means for life, and for eternal life? Or, do we merely teach our children the techniques of survival in a materialistic world, teaching them from preschool on to compete, to grab for the brass ring and who care who gets trampled on in the process? Are we turning out generations of truly ignorant geniuses, who can definitely read, write, compute complex math problems, program computers, develop satellites, etc., but generations of children who haven’t a clue how to disseminate the information they read, who don’t care whether the end result of their work is good, as long as they benefit from it. Generations who think only of their own good, of more and more ease, more and more money, speed in technology, etc., and give not one thought to the Author of All Life and All Knowledge.

     Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is dangerous. Knowledge in search of God, for God, seeing Him and searching for Him in this knowledge brings the fruits that we need, both for our earthly existence, and more importantly, for our home with God for all eternity in Heaven.

     What good does it behoove a man if he gain the whole world, but lose his immortal soul?

     Christ spoke these words to us in the Gospel. Are we to deny them, for the sake of convenience. It’s easier to send the kids out the door, whether to public of private school, and entrust their education to others because we’re very, very busy holding down one, two or three jobs to pay the bills…which might include tuition if the school is private.

     Private schools offer excellence in academics and frequently tout that they are Bible-based, Christian based, Catholic-based, or whatever, when, in reality, they go for the same grab-bag of federal funds that the public schools get, provided said schools follow the secular agenda set down by the federal and state governments.

     Mother Cabrini was a missionary. But she was also a teacher in her own way, and a very good one. She did not possess degrees after her name. She did not attend conference after conference on the psychological development of the child, the environment of the child, and all the other excuses we throw around today as a reason for more state and federal funding. Rather, she tackled the instruction of adults and children with one aim: To teach them of God, who had given them the earth and all its wonders for their use. She taught them basics, and brought them to a self-awareness of their intrinsic worth through the grace of God, their Father. She did not bother with fancy things that might have speeded up the academic courses. That the person could read, write, comprehend and in that reading, writing and comprehension come to the realization, however gradual, that he/she was a child of God, meant for Heaven, and that it was God’s Will that the earthly life be spent in doing good for the benefit of all, would not be lost in the clutter, confusion, poverty, anxiety and concerns of the day.

     Yes, we have progressed tremendous in technology since Mother Cabrini worked among the people. We have things she may not have even dreamed of. But she did what we talk about, and she did it simply. She educated the people she encountered in a way far superior to the education that is offered today. She taught the people of her world how to love God, to love themselves and their neighbor as they loved themselves, and added the basics of reading, writing, etc., to that foundation.

     We’ve left God out. We’ve taken the foundation out of education and replaced it with a weak substitute…ourselves, as if we were god and all-knowing. Knowledge without God is useless. Knowledge from God and for God is without limit—for He directs and guides and does not make mistakes. Maybe it’s time we took education back to its roots, and stopped trying to become so sophisticated we wipe ourselves off the face of the earth by our arrogance and our ignorance.

Cyndi Cain

Visitors in 1997