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The Purpose of Education ~ BENEATH THE SURFACE with PAUL MURANO

By: Paul Murano – Sept. 2017

As the nation begins another calendar year of academia it is a good time to reflect on the notion of education. It is notable that the first two words we humans speak after gargling ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ and parroting ‘no’, are “what?” and “why?” Notice they are questions. We are a truth seeking species. At the heart of this natural curiosity is a search for meaning and purpose. ‘What’ denotes meaning and ‘why’ purpose. Meaning and purpose. It’s what sets humans apart from the other animals. No snail or grasshopper seeks to understand meaning and purpose. Only persons do.
As babies grow into children, Bouncy castle for sale adolescents, and young adults their natural quest for meaning and purpose grows exponentially to include not only objects in front of them, but life itself. The need to understand the meaning and purpose of life on the spiritual level is just as natural and vital as the need for food and oxygen on the physical level.

From the beginning of recorded history man has been consumed with these two questions of meaning and purpose, as is illustrated in cave paintings, religious rituals, and the great literature. Aristotle recognized all things have a meaning and purpose and called it the formal and final cause. He taught that to know a thing’s essence or meaning one should look at its end or purpose. If the purpose of a particular object is to seat a human being, for example, it’s safe to say that it is a chair. Its shape, size, color, and other accidentals are secondary. We could therefore surmise that in order for us to understand the meaning of life – what we are and how we ought to live – we must first understand its end or purpose. We exist in order to….? If the marathoner knows where the finish line is, he will see to it that he runs the straightest line possible toward it. If you know the end or goal of anything, including life itself, you can then map out the proper means to its fulfillment. Ignorance and lack of discipline veer us off course; but knowledge of the end always gives us hope.
Why is it that no one on their death bed ever says, “If I only worked more and saw my family less,” or “If I only got more degrees or diplomas!” No one regrets not having slandered more people, nor having used enough people for their own selfish benefit, nor having committed adultery enough. Why? Why is it that when we are sober and reflective we wish we had been more honest, truthful, compassionate, chaste, humble, and grateful; prayed more and worried less? What ultimate end might this serve? What purpose of life would elicit such a typical reflection of meaning on one’s death bed?

One of the saddest things that has occurred in our culture has been the devolution of education. As public education became more like an information factory, the big questions of life have been replaced with how to get a job and make money. As we mentioned above, the end or purpose dictates the means. If our end is simply to become worm food six feet in the ground and annihilated for all eternity, it makes sense that practical efficient ways to obtain creature comforts and selfish pleasures would become paramount. Adopting materialism as the philosophy of man inevitably leads to hedonism and nihilism; and academia and the media – the two mind-molding and culture-molding establishments of our day – have done just that. Seeking truth has been replaced with seeking pleasure. Being good has been replaced with being accepted. Satisfying the mind and soul has been replaced almost completely with satisfying the body. If we were mere animals this would be sufficient. Since we are not, none of it will bring happiness.

Until we recognize we are persons, not just animals, destined for great things far beyond our current earthly existence, formal education will continue to cause more harm than good. Secondary schools will continue to fill adolescents with useless information and college life will continue to function as America’s free ‘whore’ houses. (If you are offended by that last comment, ask any classroom of college women how many of them are on the pill – and with the blessing of their parents. After teaching a class on moral theology, for example, a typical young woman, mired in today’s “relationship” and “hook-up” culture, voluntarily informed me that the answer to that was ‘most’.)

Ultimately the purpose of education is to satisfy the natural curiosity of the mind, to explore the big questions of life. If we believe our end is annihilation like the animals, we will think and act like animals. We will become informed beasts with little wisdom or virtue. Unfortunately, this is the belief of an overwhelming majority of educators and administrators in our academic world today.

Dr. Paul Murano teaches philosophy at Rivier University and North Shore Community College and hosts Beneath the Surface radio show on 980 WCAP. Paul has a doctorate in marital theology, is certified in bioethics by the NCBC, and teaches adult ed. at St. Patrick’s in Nashua. He is founder of Heartbeat Pregnancy Help in Burlington, and is a singer-songwriter-musician. E-mail Paul at PJDM@aol.com

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A bad girl
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The recipe
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Paul Murano

Paul Murano

Dr. Paul Murano teaches philosophy at Rivier University and North Shore Community College and hosts Beneath the Surface radio show on 980 WCAP. Paul has a doctorate in marital theology, is certified in bioethics by the NCBC, and teaches adult ed. at St. Patrick's in Nashua. He is founder of Heartbeat Pregnancy Help in Burlington, and is a singer-songwriter-musician. E-mail Paul at PJDM@aol.com

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