What’s Still Grand about the Grand Siècle : The Age of Louis XIV and the Education of the Heart
Fr. David M. Gallo
Gallo, Fr. David M., "What’s Still Grand about the Grand Siècle : The Age of Louis XIV and the Education of the Heart", dans Cahiers du XVIIe siècle, 2006, vol. XI, 1.
As an earnest new professor, idealistically searching for the best and highest meaning of what it meant to be a historian and educator, I came across a series of remarks from those with long experience teaching, collected for people in my shoes. One set of comments, by an elderly Benedictine monk, spoke a different language. Unlike most others, he wrote neither about critical reading, writing or thinking, nor about jobs and careers. His goal in teaching was “to prepare my students for death.” Despite finding his take on education slightly creepy and even more, off-puttingly morbid, I think he meant teaching in such a way as to reach and form their active center. One writer, Michel Meslin, understands this active center as the heart, “where ideas and impressions received are transformed into deeds… the seat of the individual’s creative power in the form of consciousness.” Teaching the Grand Siècle in the liberal arts tradition can shape their active center by immersing students into the complexity of lives lived in a different time and place, and, should it work, bring them a better understanding of their own. Rather than a preparation for death, I would call this kind of teaching “the education of the heart.”
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