Ancient Rants and Female Roles

What does it mean to be a teacher? What does it mean to be a student?

I gather that these two labels are more similar than we like to believe them to be. In Ancient Greece the teacher was learned, experienced, and willing to spread that knowledge. This was done through lecture, through dialogue, through theater. Teaching was active. 

The student, eager to acquire that which he saw burning under the surface of his teacher, questioned, and answered, and was shot down, and answered again. While skills were obtained, the participation in this process provided an education we are hard pressed to find today. Learning how to think and what to think about rather than simply what to think. period. 

Before the advent of “relative” equality in mind and action, men were in the classroom and women at home. Putting the incorrectness of this set-up aside, it is prudent to understand what good this did have. Women’s role was a crucial aspect of society. Aristotle speaks of the role of running a household as an important and necessary role. Children learned societal norms and expectations through interaction with their mother and responsibilities in the home. While the classroom engenders certain behaviors, I am confident that the home life concerns another sphere of life that, without it, we would surely fail as a society. 

Today, the “home” life is so multiplicitous, we cannot be sure—except in failure—that everyone has access to these extra-curricular life lessons. Civic understanding comes not from participation in civil society, but rather, from textbooks stating what “civil society” is. A citizen by rote memorization is not a citizen at all. 

Women’s education is and should be in all areas of the world, not just home life, not just technical skill..but this should be the case for both Men and Women. Everyone should have these responsibilities to their children, especially now that having a sustainable household is something men and women have access to. Civic education is key to the success of society. Because home life is not homogenous, our schools must take up arms.

Public education is another key to liberal democracy, whether the “conservatives” believe so or not. Our founders required an educated electorate. They already knew that this would not and could not be achieved across all people, but I would like to think that they were hopeful. Though not everyone can be a philosopher king, everyone can and should have a taste of the infinite  A glimpse of the spiritual. A touch of what makes us human—the intellect.

Liberal education does this, but we no longer believe in it. Well-roundedness is frowned upon in exchange for “skills” and “technical knowledge.” Even worse, is the fact that we shun the correct acquisition of “technical” knowledge—practical application. Men and women do not learn to do by doing, they learn to do by reading, and memorizing, and watching online classes (smell the hint of disdain?)

This is part of a much larger conversation that I want to have. How do we bring back the intellectual in addition to the technical and the moral and the artistic and the true? Well, the latter requires a reverence for truth, and that seems way too mystical to expect today, so I will wait in vigilent prayer.

I want to be Diotima, I want all women to be and feel like and know that they have the capability to teach like Diotima. To teach love by loving is perhaps the most essential lesson one can learn as a human being. From it we learn to appreciate, to inquire, to learn. 

Love to learn and learn to love.

 

 

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