A pretty famous guy once said that the goal of a good education is not to make one think right, but to make one act right. I’m paraphrasing, of course. I can’t recall the exact quote or the name of the fellow who uttered it, but the gist of it is hard to forget. Now, we all know that education does not save—only Jesus can do that—but education can and does form virtue in students when it is done well by parents and teachers; and virtuous students, after all, are students who act right. Last week I asserted that a good education teaches “a way of being.” Another way of saying it is to say that a good education forms virtue in students so that they not only think right, but they also act right. And what better way to form virtue than by reading old books?
Once while introducing an author who was confined to a wheelchair most of her life, I asked a group of students, “What would you do with your time if you had to spend every day of your life in a wheelchair?” Here are the top three answers: 1) play video games, 2) watch television, and 3) sleep. No one said “Read” until I prompted them. The option of reading was simply an after-thought.