Friday, October 15, 2010
An Education -- deceitful school of life
At home, Jenny pines for more culture. She listens to French record albums until her father tells her to turn it off. She wants to go to concerts, but he sees no value in this. She wants to read the books she wants, rather than the books she is told to read. She feels imprisoned in his goal of giving her an education that will allow her to rise above his circumstances.
David has been described as "devilishly charming" and this hits home exactly. He is a snake with an oily exterior, most certainly creepy. He does indeed present an impression of Satan. When the devil turns up at our doorstep undoubtedly he appears like David, smooth and suave, telling us exactly what we want to hear so he can win us to his cause. We then compromise our convictions and beliefs, until we have slipped down the slippery slope towards destruction (Prov. 5:5). The apostle Paul says he appears as an angel of light masquerading as someone good, when he is ultimately deceptive with self-seeking intentions (2 Cor. 11:14).
The real crux of the film focuses on two things: 1) the value of an education and 2) the types of education. If she is to marry David and live the life of a wealthy wife, what is the point of pursuing a higher eduction, even if it is at Oxford, the finest university in England? Why not give up her dreams to live her new dreams of the renaissance life? But this is to adopt a short-sighted perspective. It ignores the red warning flags and avoids considering the risks.
When it comes to types of education, the film offers three options. David presents the school of life. He learned the hard way, working his way up from the bottom. This has its merits, especially for those not gifted or aptitudinally persuaded to book studies. A legitimate option, yet without starter funds, this path is the path of hard work climbing up the employment ladder.
The second alternative presented is that of false education. This is a kind of deceitful school of life. David promises this to Jenny and it seems so attractive. No need for start up cash; no need to start at the bottom. Join the post-education world half-way up the ladder and learn from those already educated in this school. But Jenny discovers the easy way is not usually the legitimate way. And when that happens the rungs are removed and we, as she does, fall to the ground. At that point we are worse off than in either of the other two schooling options. There is no free lunch here.
The final option is the classical education. Jenny's school taught the classic syllabus, including Latin. Such classes are invaluable. Though Latin is not popular today, it still provides benefit to the person seeking a time honored education. In her day, it was a requirement to enter Oxford. By the time I entered Oxford a decade later, it was no longer a requirement (and I took German instead of Latin). Nevertheless a classical education focused on the academic disciplines is a tremendous preparation for a liberal arts schooling. Most occupations then as now require a university degree as admission qualifications. The degree itself is more a sign of the ability to learn and to conform. It is worth the price. And the time spent away from home, learning to live as an independent person having to take care of oneself, is itself a keen part of this classical education.
As sparkling and delightful as An Education is, it falls a little flat at the end. We don't really see what she has learned from her false education. Perhaps we are left thinking about our education and that of our kids. What do we want for them? What will we do to help them achieve it? And will we be on guard against the subtle and insidious lies of the enemy who wants to deter them and us?
at 7:00 AM