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Ethos and Education: Beyond Romanticism and Enlightenment

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image of Ecclesiology

Education is characteristically either considered as the apolitical transmission of knowledge or, more politically, as the formation of citizens. A more fluid relation between education and politics was imagined in the ancient world and was to some extent recapitulated in the eighteenth century Enlightenment. It has since, however, collapsed one of two directions: an instrumentalised model of education, supported by the state, and supporting it in turn, with a stress on individual freedom; or a Romantic vision of education, represented by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, which favours the ‘natural’ individual over the socialised citizen. Both work with a structure shorn of transcendence. In contrast, the church offers a unique angle on education, based upon meeting the human being in his or her particularity, where what is spontaneous and arises from within, and what is traditional and imparted from without, are acknowledged to have a kinship with proceeds from their relation to the creator.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Theology and Religious Studies University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK,


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