Only go to virtual college if you have a virtual soul. Take virtual communion if you wish to go to not-really-Paradise: a place where there is virtual feasting and joy. For the rest of us there is real heaven where nobody will ever be asked for a password and nobody will have had an inferior experience based on the video card they possess.
Instead, we will be real and the setting will highlight the glory of the image of God in us. The stupidity that forgets that people are souls in bodies will either cater to the soul or the body to the loss of humanity. Much of education just now either sends us to Club Ed, creating a campus that caters to the hedonist, or assumes we can be ghosts in some virtual machine chatting in a virtual classroom and call center Socrates.
We have bodies and so any class that does not take place in beautiful space is inferior to any virtual experience. Put simply: talking to Jesus in Palestine is better than going to the chat board with the Savior.
In Plato’s last work Laws, his characters agree to talk, in part, because the walk they will take as they chat is so beautiful. There are places to rest and a lovely road that will contribute to what they are doing: forming a new City. How? Beauty around a man will help him value beauty in all he does.
If you make a person do her job in ugliness, do not surprised by what you get. Why do we think that a person trapped in a Dilbert cubicle will produce anything other than bleak complicity with the powers that be?
We gaze at our navels so long that the lint looks like importance. Instead, we should recollect that we are souls in bodies. We discard nothing. We demand beauty in incorporeal ideas and loveliness for our bodies. The setting of the diamond matters. The best education will cooperate with nature and place her students in nature. The sheer complexity of any garden, beauty created by mind in nature, sates our souls.
The ugly inner city school with her brutal practicality is inhuman: no beauty, no education. Worse is any educational program that pretends that people do not sit in space while they learn. Shakespeare suggests that the play “will capture the conscience of the King.” A good play has a good set, not just good acting. The problem with online education is that it is a good script (at best) with no stage at all.
If we had no body, that would be fine.
Instead, like Plato’s gentleman, we must ask for more: a lovely walk as we talk.