Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Teaching without Preaching

from CBS Evening News, June 24, 2008
The curriculum discussed in the above video looks a lot more like what I got in high school, at the International School in Manila (Class of 1976).

We studied world religions quite religiously, not with an intent to recruit newbies, but so as to better understand and appreciate the world in which we live, an important aspect of education, I think many would presume.

Some of the religions we studied are no longer practiced, or may persist only in exotic niche areas.

A more informed discussion of world religions also serves as an ice breaker when it comes to philosophy, as fluency with philosophical concepts improves our ability to comprehend and communicate certain aspects of mathematics, in part by providing more context, an historical and/or anthropological dimension.

When I got to Princeton (Class of 1980), my philosophical interests took me back into the religion department, where some of the best thinking around Wittgenstein was happening (both departments shared 1879 Hall, since my day much expanded).

Sometimes it's hard to police the border between religion and psychology as well, as disciplines like zen tend to pop up on either side willy-nilly. Keeping the mind flowing and flexible, not logjammed with bogus concepts ("cruft"), is considered an important aspect of many spiritual disciplines.