Line from Tennyson Poem: Thinking about Education

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson FRS (6 August, 1809 – 6 October, 1892) was the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria’s reign and remains one of the most popular British poets.

One of his most famous poems is Locksley Hall (1835-1842).

In the poem, Tennyson predicts the rise of both civil aviation and military aviation with the following words:

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales;
Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain’d a ghastly dew
From the nations’ airy navies grappling in the central blue;

A key line in this poem is: “Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.”

This Tennyson line is not identical with what we are attempting here but it is helpful in terms of its basic intuition as to what “evaporates” from the mind and what might remain.

Our quest is more: develop through all these examples a sense of “omnidirectional zooming out” from any one field, lecture, book, movie, topic, question, quiz, discussion in schools and universities and create your own inner “map room.”

One “strange” characteristic of this particular map room is that it does not “banish the intensely personal” but considers that the basis and not some kind of illegitimate distraction. But that’s not all: it proposes that you hold in your mind the truth the education is itself found between the intensely personal and the global surround of techno-commerce, and that means that “the omnidirectional quest to understand” must always be aware of these levels and dimensions at the same time and in the same mind and person. Everything else is specialized training or platitudinous “motivational speaking.”

What we are introducing here is “equidistant” from all that and insists on an “all at once” evolving overview as odd as that may appear when you start.

You can neither “major in everything and all fields” and you also cannot neglect the deepest dimensions, taken together. This is the “razor’s edge” one must walk on.