Beauty for Truth's Sake
"Teachers often tell us that modern students don't know how to think. Setting aside the fact that this is a perennial complaint, made by teachers about their students in every age, it may be true that the conditions of modern life militate against independent thought in particular ways. Silence is rare, entertainment is all-pervasive, the pressure to consume-and-discard is almost irresistible. No one has put it better than G.K. Chesterton did in 1930: 'People are inundated, blinded, deafened, and mentally paralysed by a flood of vulgar and tasteless externals, leaving them no time for leisure, thought, or creation from within themselves.' The situation has grown worse in every decade.
No wonder students come to a college education expecting nothing more than a set of paper qualifications that will enable them to earn a decent salary. The idea that they might be there to grow as human beings, to be inducted into an ancient culture, to become somehow more than they are already, is alien to them. They expect instant answers, but they have no deep questions. The great questions have not yet been woken in them. The process of education requires us to become open, receptive, curious, and humble in the face of what we do not know. The world is a fabric woven of mysteries, and a mystery is a provocation to our humanity that cannot be dissolved by googling a few more bits of information."