Column: Contours of Culture
The Lost Sense of Learning
by Ken Myers
Many books that most wisely describe the ideals of cultural flourishing (and which thereby diagnose cultural confusions) are books about education. This should come as no surprise, since the work of education is at root the transmission of culture—of a body of knowledge and a way of situating ourselves in the world so as to seek understanding and live well.
Our society typically regards education as a means of progress to some unknown and better future, not as a matter of cultural conservation. So we tend to think of schools as places where individuals acquire dispositions and skills to live out their idiosyncratic dreams and remake the world to satisfy their desires. Our schools thus transmit the cultural values of individualism, progress, and relativism, and thereby conserve the anti-conservative ideology of modernity. Neat.
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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