Education as Disillusionment

I was listening to one of my favorite poets (OK, one of the few poets I know anything about), Li-Young Lee, who talked about education as disillusionment.  I find this to be a profound insight.

Disillusionment in this case means the removal of some false sense, some illusionment, so to speak, which is instilled, perhaps by tradition or by the media, as Li-Young Lee indicates.

There are many ways to consider this disillusionment: spiritually, socially, emotionally, intellectually.  Any area where we learn and can re-learn is an area where education can be seen as a disillusionment of sorts.

I recall when in a low-level engineering class, I learned that on the microscale, nearly any surface is very rough.  Making a ring or a cylinder or a box is all very relative: there must be some sort of tolerance, or allowable limits, in certain parameters, like length, flatness, straightness, perpendicularity, concentricity, cylindricity, etc.  This was a disillusionment to me: man cannot manufacture a perfect shape!

For me, I was illusioned for most of my life that the government (especially the U.S. government) is a powerful source for good.  Recent education has disillusioned me, showing me that government (including the U.S. government), while a powerful source, is often associated with many negative effects.

Spiritually-speaking, we sometimes have this illusion that “All is well” with our souls, when in reality, all is not.  True education arms us with the knowledge we need: for instance, that we are, all of us, spiritually dead, depraved in some sense, even enemies to God when we obey natural, base instincts.

Education may instruct us that war is deadly, is terrible, is violent, is horrific.  Clearly, some forms of “learning” indicate differently.  Such, I submit, constitutes “illusionment.”  That the world, for instance, is better off with wars and contentions.  But if there is one truth, one reality in the eternal scheme, then true education reveals this, or a part of this, to us.

We may have a false impression (or illusion) about how people learn, or how they think, or what they feel.  True education reveals the truth.  It disillusions us from our false, or incomplete, notions.

We may have the illusion that God is distant, or not listening, or not caring.  Or that the here and now is all important.  But true knowledge, even revealed knowledge, indicates God is close, and that there is something transcendent and significant beyond today and tomorrow, and that we are God’s precious children.

Thus, true, genuine, powerful education replaces or corrects our false misconceptions, effectively disillusioning us.

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1 Comment

Filed under Social Commentary

One response to “Education as Disillusionment

  1. I enjoyed the read!

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