“Use Your Head” Sub-Pages:
Know What You Know and What You Don’t Know:
According to Archbishop Fulton Sheen, “some of the great geniuses of the past never read half as much as the mediocre geniuses today, but what they read they understood and incorporated into a deeper dimension of knowledge.”
St. John Henry Cardinal Newman provides the antidote…
…know what you say you know: know what you know and what you do not know; get one thing well before you go on to a second; try to ascertain what your words mean; when you read a sentence, picture it before your mind as a whole, take in the truth or information contained in it, express it in your own words, and, if it be important, commit it to the faithful memory… This is the way to make progress; this is the way to arrive at results; not to swallow knowledge, but to masticate and digest it. – The Idea of a University
This is very important in sharing your faith with others. People deserve answers to their questions. You don’t have to know it all in order to be helpful, but be prepared as you are able and try to help them find the right direction when you are not.
Common sense is a healthy thing to include in the process of applying the ideas presented here. For example, forgiving someone who has harmed you or your family is an essential aspect of the faith and important for your own healing; however, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should trust that person with something like babysitting your children.
On the other hand, it is important, especially as a society, to have people willing to employ those who are in the process of rehabilitating their lives. Again, this needs to be done in an intelligent and thoughtful way.
Think and Love:
Keep Learning! It doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s not all about formal book-learning. Keep challenging your kids and moving them forward. Particularly take advantage of questions they have – they learn most effectively when they study something they’re already interested in. Find solid foundational materials that are free of sensationalism, condescension and bad thinking. Beautiful Catholic materials and classics (like fairy tales) are great here! Study church teaching (The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great gift to us!).
Remember: Knowledge is not equal to virtue! Because of our fallen nature, knowing what the good is doesn’t automatically mean that we will do it. This is important to education because it means that it won’t be successful if it is just about knowing stuff. We need to cultivate a love of and desire for the good.
Develop Your “Skeptometer”:
One of the most important things our children will need when they leave home and go off into the world is what I like to call a “skeptometer” – the ability to filter and weigh information without automatically accepting and absorbing it.
It is a task uniquely suited to parents – and a particularly good task for fathers – to help their children develop this skill. It’s not hard to find material to consider and discuss. With young children, we talk about commercials and advertising and what the company is trying to sell us. Great literature, newspaper articles, popular movies and televised political debates are all good opportunities for discussion with older children. This generally doesn’t require extra planning – just include your children in things that you’re already interested in.
These discussions can also inspire parents to learn more in order to help their children find the answers without arrogance or presumption.
To train a citizen is to train a critic. The whole point of education is that it should give a man abstract and eternal standards, by which he can judge material and fugitive conditions. – G.K. Chesterton, All is Grist