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In War, in Prision, in Antiquity

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After reading this article by J.M.Stockdale, I have to say that I've got a better and much broader understanding of what true education really is. At first, when I happened to think about education and what it means or why is so important in life, I always had this idea of education as a preparation for the future, to become professionals, intellectual people, that it was necessary for us to shape our character and personality and in general terms eventually be successful in life. But, like most people living in a modern world like nowadays where technology changes so rapidly and science evolves bringing us new discoveries that get our attention and interest, we often forget about the other side of education, which Stockdale calls classical education.

According to Stockdale, the best education is the blend of classical and contemporary studies. Like he mentioned in his article, nowadays changing the world seems to take precedence over understanding it. In my opinion, in fact, technology, science among many other things might distract us from the basis of which our society was built up of and like he mentioned it could deaden our noblest impulses or atrophy the power of the human nature. I can see how the more modern society gets, the more values people loses, the lack of morality in people increases as society evolves and that is a contradiction because it supposed to be the opposite. So, as he said, classical education is very important and sometimes even more important than anything, like in time of duress, in war specially. Stockdale thinks that there is no better way of finding that moral philosophy, that classical education than looking back, way back in time, when civilization started. He expressed that that's when we can find the essence of being human, when people were stripped to nothing but their instincts and intelligence. When he quoted Mark Van Doren about refunding your own civilization, that's what he meant, that being an educated person is about the capacity of start over again, to stand up and being able to re-found your life given the necessity. And like he said, we can find better examples of that in the readings of antiquity, which is full of stories of great people who were able to re-found civilizations and make history.

Also, I shared his opinion that the real challenge of education is not to prepare a person for success, but to prepare him for failure. I think that phrase pretty much resumes it all. And it's pretty reveling for me because we tend to look up to the future, not thinking about what would we do in times of chaos, in times of war. It's not easy to manage ourselves in those kinds of circumstances where we are stripped to nothing but our education. What we learned is what we are, or like the author says, he became the distillation of what fascinated him most as he learned



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