Re: DSM: A Latin [and Greek] Lesson (was: a 'brief' word on education)

From: Ardeshir Mehta, N.D. (
Date: Wed Mar 13 2002 - 14:27:21 EST

Hi Darren and Mary Rose, and others interested in the topic:

Darren is quite right about the etymology of "education" and "pedagogy". (I am among other things a linguist, and can
vouch for the accuracy of his statements.)

But what of the person -- child or adult -- who does not wish to be "led forth" in any way, or to learn anything

I am sure that there are many people the world over who just do not want to learn anything. Even I, who do want to learn
things much of the time, have my moments when I just don't want to learn anything, and just want to "vegetate": like
when I tune into Benny Hill. (My wife gets a bit disgusted with me for doing this! Or at least she used to: she's got
accustomed to this sort of thing from me by now.)

Freedom means to be able to tune into Benny Hill all day and every day for the rest of one's life: like the character
Onslow in the British TV show Keeping Up Apperances. Education -- no matter what meaning is given to the word
"education" -- does not allow this.

Even Plato might not have allowed play to the children had the children not "improved" in some way by playing: that is,
by learning something through the play. This is the thin end of the wedge: once you think there is a need for the
children to "improve", you start to say: "This activity is good, that activity is bad".

And the thin end of the wedge does not always remain thin. That is probably why, as Mary Rose correctly said, "very few
copies match the original in quality and intent". Freedom gets gradually eroded in order to promote education -- as
apparently happened even with Plato.

The problem is the intent, especially (but not exclusively) the stated intent. If the intent -- stated or otherwise --
is to educate, the thin end of the wedge does not remain thin. In the copies, it thickens, until eventually the copy
does not resemble the original at all. And with time, it thickens even in the original: as in Krishnamurti's and
Tagore's and Aurobindo's schools (to give just a few examples).

But as Bill rightly says, a child is not an "improver" -- and of course, neither is an adult. At least, not necessarily:
everyone, regardless of age, has the right not to improve if he or she so desires.

Once we take this attitude, there is no wedge, and the situation cannot deteriorate, and the copy remains forever just
as good as the original -- which also does not change for the worse over time.

Best wishes,

Ardeshir <>

PS: (As for burning fine furniture, as in Mary Rose's analogy, the Zen Buddhists advocate buring even their own Sacred
Scriptures! That's the right attitude.)


Darren Stanley wrote:

> Hi Rose Mary et al., Alas, I wonder where Charlotte Mason may have learned her Latin because the Latin meaning of
> "educate" is not to feed and nourish. This sounds nice and all, this sense of nourishing the mind and so on, but the
> etymology of "educate" is more along the lines of "to lead out from" or "to lead forth" (ex - + ducere). I suspect
> that that there is also a connection with the Greek words for pedagogy, education, child and play, as well. A
> pedagogue was a person who walked alongside a child to a place of learning and returned with that child from that
> place of learning - not a place as in a school, but an activity of playfulness (see further). To see the connection
> between pedagogy, education, play and child, we might turn to the original Greek: paidagogos, paideia, paidia and
> pais. In this manner, we see what was originally the primary reference to the activity of children. Plato
> recommended that the guards' children learn their lessons through play; however, even for Plato the original
> connection became lost, and learning became a matter of earnestness, of not-play. Cheers, Darren
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Mary Rose Murrin
> To:
> Sent: Wednesday, March 13, 2002 4:36 AM
> Subject: DSM: Re: a 'brief' word on education
> Mary Rose Murrin wrote:
> > This is in hopes of developing an understanding on the topic we've been discussing. According to a
> > Charlotte Mason website visited just now, the Latin word for education is "educare", which means to feed
> > and nourish. Any meaning for education other than providing for the mind the resources that it needs to
> > grow and develop properly is a corruption of the original meaning- in the same way that a parent provides
> > the foods that we need to eat. Some parents have an agenda and force-feed children who won't eat what is
> > provided, some don't, but the one who allows the freedom is more likely to nourish as well as feed. One of
> > the things that a growing mind needs to grow and develop properly is freedom. Another is the opportunity
> > to become responsible. Others are adequate mentors, respect, and tolerance. Others are access to high
> > quality books- especially literature, raw materials for creative endeavors, and access to nature which is
> > our greatest teacher. Anything else is not education. As this exists very few places in the world other
> > than in the best SVS model schools (haven't evaluated any- just know from years of evaluation research
> > that very few copies match the original in quality and intent), the best home schools, Summerhill, and
> > perhaps a few isolated places on the globe that I haven't learned about yet, the movement to provide "free
> > education for all" has ended up with a model where less are truly educated in the 'educare' sense than
> > ever before in the history of the world. Then to take that corrupted meaning and imply that anything else
> > other than the corrupted meaning is not education, is to take the fine artistically hand crafted furniture
> > and burn it like ordinary wood... Mary Rose


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