Saintly Thoughts

On the Futility of Education

We are as the blind leading the blind.  We speak of education; but who amongst us knows how best to educate our young?  You take one young man who has stolen a cookie from his peers, you strike him across the bottom with a switch in reproach, and he grows up a model citizen, extolling justice.  You treat another young man the same, he comes to like such treatment and grows up a deviant, exposing himself in public in an attempt to relive the thrill of abasement.  In consternation, you spare the rod upon yet another, and he is touched by your mercy, and goes and does likewise.  But yet another is spared the rod, and believing there is no hand of justice, becomes a depraved murderer.  How are we to treat our children prudently against the terror of such unpredictable outcomes, where both justice and mercy may cause great and unpredictable harm?  It is not that we act wrongly in the abstract, it is that, not knowing the full measure of the souls of our children, what deeds and aspirations and demons lie therein, any action or lack thereof threatens to unmask the hidden devil or to stifle the not yet mature angel.  How may we teach amidst such uncertainty?