(This post is part of the series on postsecondary education.)
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I am not completely pleased with what I am about to do. I recognize that education is about learning to be a "whole" human being, and about integrating education in the humanities with education in human craft and science to make a unified whole.
But my gifts are in analysis, not synthesis, and my inclination, presented with a whole that I cannot completely grasp, is to take it apart. So I am going to do this with the necessary content of education. I want to take those pieces which seem most to be about this aspect of vocation:
More practically, the vocation of all men and women is "to provid[e] the substance of life for themselves and for their families," thereby "performing their activities in a way which appropriately benefits society...unfolding the Creator's work, consulting the advantages of [others], and are contributing by their personal industry to the realization in history of the divine plan." [Gaudium et Spes, par. 34]
So here is a carefully chosen subset of the items most directly and practically relevant to the act of providing for oneself and one's family. At the end, I will draw some conclusions.
Provider skills that THE FAMILY is expected to inculcate and teach, or to delegate to trusted others
That the human being is a person, not an object of trade.
The family teaches children freedom with regard to material goods, and that man is more precious for what he is than for what he has, by a simple and austere lifestyle.
The family must train the children to express calm and objective judgments which will guide them in the choice or rejection of media that is available.
The family should teach by example how to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor.
The family must provide for children an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery.
The family should educate children to have a mature sense of responsibility with which they can follow their vocation, and in such a way that each may fully perform his or her role according to it.
The family should, at the right moment, integrate the religious formation of young people with a preparation for life as a couple.
The family should educate children so that, if they marry, they can by means of that education establish their family in economic conditions which tend to promote or facilitate the establishment of that family.
The family, in proximate preparation, will assist individuals in gaining the basic requisites for well-ordered family life, such as stable work, sufficient financial resources, sensible administration, notions of housekeeping.
The family will encourage in the proximate preparation for marriage the study of the nature of responsible parenthood, with the essential medical and biological knowledge connected with it.
The family will acquaint a person, in that proximate preparation, with correct methods for the education of children.
Provider skills that THE INDIVIDUAL is expected to develop in himself
Each man has the duty to retain an understanding of the whole human person in which the values of intellect, will, conscience, and fraternity are preeminent.
A Christian is encouraged to strive to understand the ways of thinking and judging of other men of their time.
A Christian is encouraged to blend new sciences and theories and the understanding of the most recent discoveries with Christian morality and the teaching of Christian doctrine.
A layperson is encouraged to receive a sufficient formation in theology.
A Christian must recognize the legitimacy of different opinions with regard to temporal solutions.
An individual learns control and right use of one's inclinations -- based on the esteem for authentic human values instilled by the parents.
An individual develops his authentic maturity by building on the virtue of chastity
An individual develops the manner of regarding and meeting people of the opposite sex -- based on the esteem for authentic human values instilled by the parents.
An individual becomes capable of respecting and fostering the nuptial meaning of the body by building on the virtue of chastity.
An individual grows responsibly in human sexuality by building on the moral norms that are taught by the parents.
Young people gain sensible administration and notions of housekeeping -- by building on the assistance they got in their proximate preparation for marriage.
Young people gain stable work and sufficient financial resources -- by building on the assistance they got in their proximate preparation for marriage.
A person establishes his family in favorable moral, social and economic conditions by means of the education provided by the family.
One thing I notice here is that in education, pretty much every economic good is explicitly connected to marriage and the family. Education that assists in obtaining "stable work," "sufficient financial resources," and "favorable economic conditions" all are integrated with marriage preparation.
It strikes me that it's one thing to insist that the education dollar be well invested, to return a good value in future earnings. It is quite another to insist that the education dollar be invested so that a family can be well established.
I am becoming more and more convinced that large debt is positively to be avoided in postsecondary education, because having a great deal of debt is a demonstrably unfavorable condition in which to establish a family.
We can bring this full circle, by the way, recognizing that the young people establishing their own new family have the same responsibilities toward their children, and some of those responsibilities are vocational.
Parents must make decisions carefully and wisely for the good of the family: they must "reckon with both the material and spiritual conditions of the times as well as of their state in life," and they must "consult the interests of the family group, of temporal society, and of the Church," in order to "thoughtfully take into account both their own welfare and that of their children, those already born and those the future may bring" [Gaudium et Spes par. 50]
In fatherhood, "a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family... by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability" [Familiaris Consortio par 25].
The work of a married man, in other words, is limited to work that promotes the unity and stability of his family. Different families can probably absorb different kinds of work in this respect.
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An education that fails to give a young person the tools to find stable work and sufficient financial resources to establish a family in favorable economic conditions is, it seems, a failed education. An education that emphasized the wrong things. An education gone wrong. A miseducation.
Can anyone disagree with this?