Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Education Of the Whole Person

Education as a spiritual goal was the topic of a lecture given at the Catholic University. The speaker, a priest responsible for the ongoing education of priests in the diocese of Seoul, began by saying that the majority of parents see the object of education merely as a means for getting into a good school, instead of fulfilling the promise of the English word 'education.'

The word comes, he explains, from the Latin word "to draw out." Originally, the intent of education was to nourish in each person the potential that is within, to give birth to their vocation and to develop their talents. Parents that counsel their children to go to law school, become a doctor, or to choose some other financially rewarding profession, in order to have a comfortable life, are not using education as it was meant to be used, and he wonders how many have that understanding.

Education should help us to realize our potential. When a person develops his or her talents, they will be on fire and better prepared to find satisfaction in whatever they decide to do in life. That is the reason, he points out, we talk about educating the whole person. It is to find oneself, to discover who we are, and what we want to devote ourselves to in life, and to see it flower.

Health is also a goal of education. If a person becomes depressed because of an educational program and needs therapy, something is surely wrong in that program. Education is meant to draw out the whole person, and in the process developing a mature personality.

The writer feels that the lack of proper education is one of the biggest problems society needs to address. While there are few societies with the  zeal for educating its young like Korea, the priest says it is excessive. Parents are concerned not only with entrance into college, but with their children's choice of subject matter. The main point of education for the whole person, he says, is autonomy, the freedom to  choose and to find his or her own way in life.

Instead, what students often hear are: "Don't get involved in sports, study. Don't give thought to anything besides study." This tends to center a person's attention on oneself, concerned only with their own position and unable to compromise. Parents also find it difficult to accept failure in their children; they are always there and involved, often remaining involved even after their children have a position in society.

A person has to have the freedom to make their own decisions, even if it leads to failure, the priest says. They should have the freedom to go their own way, keeping the portals of conversation with the parents always open. When parents decide everything for their children, there is no way of knowing what the child wants.  Education for the whole person focuses on the growth of an autonomous, self-regulating  individual. Practice is needed on how to accept failure, on falling and still getting up and moving on. Trials in life are good tools to help in the maturation process, to grow the personality and to discover the self.                                                                                                                                                       

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