Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Cardinal Newman on education

Myself and my fellow letter-writers to the FT have rather been accused of being 'economistic' and 'utilitarian' about Higher Education.

Just to put the record straight, here's what that great thinker (and Catholic convert) Cardinal John Henry Newman said about the purpose of a university:

To open the mind, to correct it, to refine it, to enable it to know, and to digest, master, rule, and use its knowledge, to give it power over its own faculties, application, flexibility, method, critical exactness, sagacity, resource, address, eloquent expression, is an object as intelligible (for here we are inquiring, not what the object of a Liberal Education is worth, nor what use the Church makes of it, but what it is in itself), I say, an object as intelligible as the cultivation of virtue.

Not, you note, to earn more, to be more 'efficient', to 'compete with 'the world' - whatever those terms that hide more than they illuminate really mean.

Every word a classic. Perhaps we should have paid more attention to that side of the argument too.