I have regularly pushed the definition of education as “the raising of taste” which may be another way of saying, “cultivating right opinions.” But I find that using the word “opinion” in our day brings more confusion than light. Just look at how Google responds when I ask it, “What is an opinion?”
- a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
“I’m writing to voice my opinion on an issue of great importance”
- the beliefs or views of a large number or majority of people about a particular thing.
“the changing climate of opinion”
- an estimation of the quality or worth of someone or something.
“I had a higher opinion of myself than I deserved”
Especially the first definition, but actually all of them seem to suffer from the loss of belief in true reality. Man is the measure of opinion, not any actual reality. What a true education seeks to cultivate is a belief in reality, or that truth can be known, and that the more I learn about the truth, the better I can live my life. So in whatever “subject” of study, the student and teacher are seeking to come ever closer to the truth.
We have dismissed all too readily the objectivity of “opinion” and replaced it as something relative to each person’s own person. While not denying that each of us has an opinion, the measure of that opinion should not be subjective criteria, but rather objective truth.
Teaching students to define their terms, seek truth through formal and material logic, and then express those opinions formed with love and respect for the others who are doing the same is at the heart of good education.
Not sure what the standardized test for that would be, but the proof is found in whether our society can conduct civil discourse, or not. At the moment we are not scoring very high, in my opinion.