GK Chesterton on Education

It was a treat to welcome Dale Ahlquist, the president of the American Chesterton Society, to South Bend last week. I’ve met him in person a few times, including a visit to the ACS annual national conference in Minneapolis several years ago, and it’s been my pleasure to participate in two Chesterton reading groups on campus, including one led by my friend Father Charlie Gordon, CSC.

Chesterton’s insights are awesomely eloquent, pithy summations of wisdom grounded firmly in the Catholic faith and dealing with just about any topic in life.

Because I bought a couple of books at Ahlquist’s appearances, including a dictionary of sorts titled The Universe According to G. K. Chesterton, I know that GKC has a great definition of education: “truth in a state of transmission; the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to the next.” It reminds me of the quote from Pope Benedict XVI in which he told Catholic educators in the United States that an education in faith “nurtures the soul of a nation.”

Chesterton is a champion for truth, for the notion that truth exists–which is why it’s worth transmitting to others, including the next generation. Ahlquist talks about this championing of truth in an episode of his EWTN series, “The Apostle of Common Sense.” And the Universe book I just bought includes a nice definition of truth (accentuating the dynamic, interactive power of truth) taken from GKC’s writings. Truth, he says, is “a fact with meaning; a living fact; a fact that can talk; a fact that is conscious of other facts; a fact that can explain itself.”



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