"'The great Irish poet William Butler Yeats has said that true education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.' What does this mean to you?"--Professor Filiatreau quoting Dr. Steven Hake, "A Burning Flame" (lecture, Patrick Henry College, 2006)
With the use of these two metaphors, Yeats encompassed the whole of two scholastic philosophies that are diametrically opposed. Those who view education as merely the filling of a bucket educate only because they believe it is the duty of young folks to learn and, therefore, teaching falls to their elders. This rather shallow view of education results in disgruntled student body who considers high school a drudgery and college an escape from the reality of adult life. It is no wonder the young feel a lack of purpose and a lack of discipline that leads to vague discontentment. They have been fed facts and figures that they are "supposed to know," but have never been taught the joy of learning or the purpose, the use to which their acquired knowledge should be put.
In contrast, those educators who espouse Yeats's view concentrate on lighting the fires of passion and purpose in the souls of their pupils. For without purpose and passion, we cannot fully experience the joys and blessings inherent within personhood. Yes, the second group of teachers fills their students' heads with the same dull data. In fact, they are able to cram much more knowledge into the same space by teaching their students to think and enjoy learning. Not only do their students have the necessary knowledge, but they also have the necessary character, logic, and discernment. In short, they have the wisdom necessary to fulfill their purpose for being. It is no wonder, then, if the twin fires of passion and purpose burn higher, wider, and longer than their early mentors could ever have imagined.
The proper education is important to our ability to choose the proper changes. Without the wisdom gained from a good education, we could not know whether the changes we made would be good or bad. So let us have a passion for learning and for improvement!
Note: This post has been modified from a discussion board post completed in 2011 for credit through Patrick Henry College, by Leticia Ash.