THE LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES
Educators of the Middle Ages divided their curriculum into seven branches, in two groups, one of three and one of four, called respectively the trivium and the quadrivium: the former comprised usually grammar, rhetoric, and logic; the latter arithmetic, music, astronomy and geometry. It is this old-time arrangement of studies that remains in the degree to symbolize an effective schooling. There is no need to analyze this arrangement or to attempt to justify its use in this day and age; the main point is that in Freemasonry the Liberal Arts and Sciences symbolize an education.
There is however this thing to be said about the medieval curriculum: it was a discipline in the humanities, and that is something worth thinking about. The tendency in schools nowadays is to give a student either a scientific course, so as to equip him for one of the technical professions, or else a course in business methods with a view to fitting him for office or factory. This is all well and good but it is not a complete education, and our educators will some day regret their surrender to the utilitarians who have demanded "a schooling that pays." Life is more than a profession, finer than a trade, it has ends and needs above and outside of these, important as they are. One has a religious and also an imaginative relationship with the universe which deserves to be developed and instructed; it is just as important to look upon the stars with the eye of reverence or as things of beauty as to measure their diameter or estimate their distances in space; the fields and hills are to be loved for their own sake, as well as to be converted into tillage and farmyards. There are such things as art, poetry, music, and worship, and these too are to have a place in school. Also it is necessary for a man to understand his own nature, and the nature of the men and women with whom he lives, a need satisfied by literature, painting, and music. Every labourer is a man first, with neighbours and a family, and a life to live; to give him nothing but a training in his craft is to rob him of his most precious birthright. The old ideal of the Liberal Arts, the humanities, is nearer the truth and need of things than any ultra-modern drill in scientific technique. We need to understand nature; yes; but we need quite as much to understand human nature.
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