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Mystery is Greater than Ideology: Recovering the Role of Beauty in Education

Mystery is Greater than Ideology: Recovering the Role of Beauty in Education

Mystery is Greater than Ideology: Recovering the Role of Beauty in Education

Margarita Mooney Suarez, Ph.D.

Founder and Executive Director, Scala Foundation

Ideology—where values have no objective meaning—has taken over in many educational institutions and in people’s minds, with disastrous consequences of social fragmentation and personal meaninglessness.

Human reason open to God, and open to mystery, can restore meaning and purpose to our lives and our institutions. In my recent book, The Love of Learning: Seven Dialogues on the Liberal Arts (Cluny Media, 2021), I ponder the crisis on modern education with seven scholars, all of whom practise a life-giving form of liberal arts education.  These scholars show how teaching is a vocation. And that all education is moral formation.

Why Choose Mystery Over Ideology? Recovering the Role of Beauty in Education,” is my latest publication on liberal arts education and beauty. It appeared in Comment Magazine, edited by Anne Snyder Brooks, in October 2021.

Here is an extract:

What students are missing in education today are awe, curiosity, contemplation. The beginning of education is not changing the world, but being attentive to all of reality, including its symbolic dimension….

Beauty is poorly understood in much of education and culture as just one more form of self-expression rather than a form of self-transcendence. The classical understanding of beauty was that experiences of beauty awaken our desire to know the splendor of the truth and prepare us to enter into virtuous relationships characterized by self-gift.

Yet many educational systems have forgotten beauty. Our technological society provides endless sources of entertainment that are like junk food: images and soundbites momentarily satisfy a craving to experience something, but then leave people with a deeper need for true nourishment of the soul.

The result of the neglect of beauty in education and culture is that much of our schooling stops at teaching us how to manipulate the world. Most educators, administrators, and policy-makers have lost sight of the power of beauty to draw students int contemplation of beauty and truth in ways that give them meaning, purpose and hope.


Margarita Mooney Suarez, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is the author of The Love of Learning: Seven Dialogues on the Liberal Arts (Cluny Media, 2021). Margarita is the founder and executive director of Scala Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to restore meaning and purpose to American culture through classical liberal arts education.

Email: margarita.mooney.suarez@gmail.com

Website: https://margaritamooneysuarez.com/

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