Principal’s Perspective: C.S. Lewis’ Perspective on Education
When I was in college I interviewed thirty very old men and asked them one question, “What advice would they give to a 20-year-old man just starting out in life?” I think it is a tragedy that as a culture we do not treasure the wisdom and suffering of those who have already lived 80 years. Regrettably, failing to learn from the past, we are destined to relive its failures. For this essay, I wonder what we could learn from Professor C.S. Lewis, a renowned scholar and author who taught at Oxford and Cambridge University.
C.S. Lewis believed the family was the foundation for all of civilization.
He said, “The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.” This does not mean that a woman will not have a career outside the home, nor is it exclusively female, for the father is also a “homemaker”. It does mean the health and success of our country’s culture depends upon families developing children who espouse the truth and values of Jesus. Even atheist scholars admit that the Biblical belief in love, mercy, humility, and holiness has shaped western civilization and softened the harshness of the world.
Lewis had strong beliefs concerning the influence of biblical morality upon a country.
Politicians and pundits are lamenting the suffering and violence of our country, yet they offer no solution. If a moral person suggests sin is destroying us and repentance is necessary, they are ignored. Lewis remarked, “We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” Celebrities feed our souls a continuous stream of violence and vulgarities yet mock holiness. Our leaders denounce people of faith as intolerant, yet wonder why violence increases in our communities. We should not be surprised when an American youth rejects the traditions of Christianity and instead indulges in immorality and rebellion. (See: How Should We Then Live? By Francis Schaeffer)
We are to prepare the hearts and minds of our children for life’s challenges.
Our Lord God has directed parents to teach their children His truths and virtues throughout the day. As a scholar of literature, it was natural for C.S. Lewis to make the connection between a child’s character and the stories being taught in the home and school. Lewis comments, “Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” Biblical and classical stories prepare a child for the challenges of life they will face, yet our country’s intellectuals have denounced these truths in an attempt to manipulate our children. Lewis calls this, “creating people without chests,” devoid of the virtue and wisdom.
Dr. Lewis believed that an education must be rooted in holiness.
Lewis warns us, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man into a clever devil.” I believe a child will have more success by submitting to Jesus, than seeking entrance to the most prestigious schools. What good is an MBA from Harvard if the person does not know God, honor his/her marriage vows, or guide his/her offspring towards a genuine walk with Jesus. “What good is it to gain the whole world, but lose one’s soul,” remarked Jesus?
C.S. Lewis offers hope.
He believed, “If followers of Christ live as people with chests – strong hearts filled with God’s truth-the world will take notice.” When people of Christ truly live by faith and love, they attract people. Neighbors & strangers enjoy their kindness and holiness. Alumni parents & teachers have seen children finally internalize 14 years of biblical truth as they too become followers of Jesus. These alumni go into high school and beyond, convinced the promises of God are to be cherished as the foundation for a noble life.
A Christian education will truly touch lives for eternity.