The great Julius Lester has passed away. My colleague K shared these words of his, which she has used as one of the epigraphs for her course on Spiritual Autobiography: a marvel.
The function and purpose of education is not only to confirm you in who you are, in the broadest sense; it is also to introduce you to all that you are not. Education should overwhelm you to such an extent that you will never again assume that your experience, individually or as part of a collective, can be equated with all of human experience. In other words, education should impress you with how vast creation is and how small you are in the midst of it. In the acceptance of that is the beginning of wisdom.
It is the function of education to introduce the student to the terrifying unknown and give him and her the intellectual skills to make known the unknown and the emotional stability to withstand the terror when the unknown cannot be made known. Such an experience gives the student the self-confidence to go forth and face that mystery which lies at the core of each of us: Who am I?
from a speech entitled “Core Knowledge,” 1995