For some time now we’ve all seen how much Pope Francis reiterates the central theme and problem of idolatry treated at length in Elizabeth Scalia’s book, Strange Gods. He even “endorsed” it! (I endorse it too, by the way, and hope to give a full review of it here very soon.) Nathaniel Peters agrees in his recent review of Lumen Fidei, at First Things.
Much to my surprise and delight, I discovered that Francis took time to endorse my own book, A Primer for Philosophy and Education, too, during his address at the slum in Rio de Janeiro today. He said the following about education:
…integral education, which cannot be reduced to the mere transmission of information for purposes of generating profit…
In my book, I make a strong distinction between education and schooling; and I also distinguish between information and understanding. I argue that education cannot be reduced to informational learning, it must lead to understanding, wisdom, and love. Here’s a snippet:
We live in the Information Age, the age of Google and Wikipedia. Yet, even though information and data abound, wisdom is in short supply. We seem to know-about everything but actually know very little. Knowledge and its progenies, like science and technology, proliferate, but understanding seems scarce as ever.
Leroy Huizenga, a professor at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, and a weekly columnist at First Things, raised the same issue as Francis regarding education in his recent, generous review of my book. He writes:
…most students come in (and many leave) with the assumption that education is merely career preparation: having a college degree shows prospective employers you’re enough of a serious human being to have jumped through hoops for four years to secure a degree, and majoring in something should get you an interview for something in that field, or get you into graduate school in that field. And so many students are more concerned with passing classes with acceptable grades than really diving into the subject matter of a given course… Rocha brings his student readers back into contact with a classical pedagogical tradition, in which education is not dispassionate mastery of certain facts requisite for worldly success but rather a cultivation of the mind in the pursuit of the love of wisdom and the development (yes) of virtue.
I am very happy to provide review and desk copies for college and high school instructors and I especially want to thank all of you who have supported this project thusfar.
All joking and shameless self-promotion aside, Francis’ words today filled me with a renewed sense of purpose about this somewhat idiosyncratic little book — and my vocation as a professor and a writer. To memorialize it, and to show my solidarity with the Catholic youth gathered for World Youth Day 2013, I would like to offer three free copies to the first three people 18 or under (I’ll take your word for it) who request a copy, via the book’s promotional site.