Seán —

I agree, it’s hard to find a word to sum up the whole thing. Education is not simple, and it’s not the same for everyone’s needs. I’m thinking about your word “expansion.” In the way you apply it—expansion of mind, outlook, concern—it is definitely a good thing. I like to call education the act of becoming familiar with what was once strange. I wonder then how it is possible for an educated person to show bigotry and prejudice, and I have to conclude that the world does not yet share my definition!

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But there is another way to read “expansion” that is probably not what you mean. Businesses expand, and cities expand. They are either simply getting bigger or getting more powerful. When we read about students having to compete in the global marketplace (which to me is just a code phrase for “watch out or your kid will make less money than your neighbor’s”, but let’s not digress), that is the kind of expansion we are applying to education. We try to include more, cover more, achieve more. We bring into education a kind of fear of the outcome instead of faith in the journey.

Your definition is about love. Why shouldn’t education be about love? That is what all the great faith traditions teach, and humanism as well. Maybe people are afraid that love will make our minds weaker, or that it will dampen our resolve to win the race. It certainly will dampen the race toward a cold and domineering world. Not such a bad thing.

For me love leads directly to wisdom. Parker Palmer, one of my favorites, writes about the willingness to allow the world into ourselves and to change us. Really knowing something does not mean learning how to control it and define it. The greatest visionaries of any field are the ones who live their knowledge like a — well, like a religion. They become humble before the majesty and intricacy and beauty of the universe.

see you soon,

— theodore