Beauty for Truth’s Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education, Stratford Caldecott, Brazos Press, 2009.
As a Secondary Religious Education and Philosophy teacher I have given some thought and study to the question of Catholic Education. Sometimes in my more leisurely moments, I think of writing a short book in the Catholic Philosophy of Education. So imagine my delight when I took up and read Stratford Caldecott’s recent book, Beauty for Truth’s Sake. I discovered that someone had already, at least in part, written the little book that I had in mind.
Caldecott has written a much needed introduction to a Catholic approach to the philosophy of education. This gem of a book is a creative retrieval of the traditional Liberal Arts approach to the cultivation of the human person. This is accomplished by interweaving attention to the Transcendentals of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful into the educational enterprise. In particular, Caldecott maps out the centrality and importance of the neglected transcendental of Beauty for any re-enchantment of education in our times.
Ever aware of the contemporary divide between the sciences and mathematics, on the one hand, and the arts, on the other, Caldecott spends the last half of the book attempting a qualitative rather than a quantitative reading of the teaching of mathematics and science. This emphasis, he thinks, will go a long way to counter the instrumental, post-Cartesian, reduction of the wide-ranging educational project in the modern world.
Finally, the whole of Liberal Arts teaching, the transcendentals, and the qualitative retrieval of mathematics and science is all bent towards the liturgical completion of education. The person and community to be formed and educated, and education itself, turn out to be forms of participation in the vast intelligibility of the Letting-Be of creation that emerges freely from the interior life of the Trinity.
Caldecott’s Beauty for Truth’s Sake is an extraordinary achievement that will both delight the hungry reader, and because of its brevity (a short 144 pages), may actually be read by a few other people in the educational community.
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