Monday, August 24, 2009

Leigh's Thesis: Chapter 3 (10)


C.S. Lewis

Even though he came from the other side of the Atlantic, C.S. Lewis was concerned with education in general, and Christian education specifically. Oxford don, prolific writer and speaker, and major defender of orthodoxy versus modernity, Lewis made a point of referring to the degrading effects of modern education on the souls of the children in all of his Narnia books. He attacked headmasters, cliques, New Age religion, feminism, the separation of siblings, and illogical reasoning.

Professor Kirke’s famous line, “I wonder what they do teach them at these schools,”(1) comes from C.S. Lewis’s experience as a college don and is explained in his non-fictional book The Abolition of Man. His body of work is too voluminous to summarize each text in one paper, so below is a summary of his educational concerns from some of his more famous writings.

That Hideous Strength is Lewis’ popular novel where he made his misgivings about modern education eerily contemporary in their scientific applications. He was truly prophetic when he said we were raising “men without chests” since state education was purposing to disconnect man’s mind from his heart in direct violation of God’s commandment to love Him with our minds as well as our hearts, bodies, and souls.

Lewis’s villain says, “By real education, I mean one that has no ‘take it or leave it’ nonsense. A real education makes the patient what it wants infallibly; whatever he or his parents try to do about it. Of course, it’ll have to be mainly psychological at first. But we’ll get on to biochemical conditioning in the end and direct manipulation of the brain.”(2)

Lewis foresaw modern education’s end in the breakdown of parental authority, employment training emphasized over liberal education, and the use of behavioral modification drugs. This is similar to Huxley’s Brave New World.

(1) C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (New York: Collier Books, 1970), 47.
(2) C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength (New York: Scribner, 1996), 42.

Copyright © 2009 by Leigh A. Bortins. All Rights Reserved.

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