(by Rory Shiner, first published in his blog Frankly, Mr Shankly, January 2006)
One of my favourite web sites is Clivejames.com. The site boasts a terrific array of art, poetry, interviews, essays and more. My favourite section is the recorded conversations with Australian poet Peter Porter. In the first series, "On not having a classical education", the two poets make an excellent point about the nature of education:
Clive James: It seems that in the new information age, no one remembers anything or carries much in their heads...
Peter Porter: Well, I think all culture lies in the head...unless it's in your head, it can't get into your heart.
Our contemporary educational culture, including our Christian educational culture, is liable to make a mistake along these lines. The true-so-far-as-it-goes cliche that if you teach a man how to fish he has fish forever lets us down. For surely an education involves more than just research skills, more than just the knowledge that, should you ever want to know something, you know where to look. At some stage, you've got to actually get some fish.
In hindsight, I think it's a shame that my education did not involve me in learning more stuff by heart: more poems, more sections of prose, more facts and figures from history. At the time it would have been less than sexy, but what an investment! To carry poetry and prose and the declensions of Latin verbs in your head for the rest of your life.
In terms of Christian education, the demise of memorizing scripture is surely a casualty here. Perhaps those of us involved in Christian education have a lesson to learn — from Clive James, Peter Porter, and King David:
"I have stored up your word in my heart..." Ps 119: 13