It is only possible to form a judgement about the accuracy of this statement after having formed another: that of what is meant by the term ‘education’. From the nature of the quote, in which C.S Lewis states that people who have received an education without acquiring values often then exploit their education disreputably, it seems possible that a term more apt in this context would be ‘schooling’. What is seen nowadays as a ‘well-rounded education’ encompasses far more than simply learning a curriculum, or indeed passing exams. To be truly well-educated implies that the subject is not merely able to demonstrate knowledge in a broad range of areas, but is also educated in the ways of the world and in the ways of people. The two concepts are, for many, inseparable; to have a well-rounded education is to become a well-rounded individual, and that is something which can only be achieved through having values, both those which have been taught to you, and those which you acquire through experience.
Somebody who has spent their youth being merely schooled could indeed grow up to have few or no values. To be schooled is literally to go through the school system, from age 4 or 5 upwards; it is not necessarily to be educated. Although it is accepted that the latter is a direct and somewhat inevitable result of the former, this is not always the case. If somebody abandoned his or her schooling and turned to delinquency, nobody could say with accuracy that that individual had received a well-rounded education. Admittedly, the delinquent may be able to recall that e=mc² from a past science lesson, but that’s not going to do them much help in a prison cell.
Of course, it would be foolish to suggest that education can never come from schooling; while the two are not always interdependent, they are by no means mutually exclusive. Attending school, college or university is, for one thing, the principal way in which young people come into contact with others. Learning to interact with people – both those you like and those you don’t – is an invaluable consequence of schooling, and one through which respect and values are often gained. This can also be said of subject lessons, particularly when it comes to the humanities and literature, which are decidedly ‘human’ areas of study. Our senses of right and wrong are surely heightened through analysing the rule of infamous historical figures or the distinction between good and evil in novels (a subject which is, in fact, a prominent theme of C.S Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia). However, the point that I am trying to put across is that an education is not something gained exclusively within an institution. Regardless of intelligence – for being educated is not necessarily synonymous with being clever – people gain through education a sense of perspective and, more often than not, a moral compass. This can be the result of numerous experiences, not merely having gone to school, and is, I feel, summed up in an online dictionary definition of the term ‘education’: ‘the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgement, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.’
In short, being educated does not necessarily mean that you are clever, and nor, of course, does it make you immune to lapses of judgement; furthermore, an education does not begin and end within the confines of a school or university environment. What an education does mean, however, is an awareness, and this awareness is cumulative throughout a lifetime. People never stop learning, from developing their first words to experiencing death, and much of what is learnt between these two extremes are values. It is often said of tumultuous events or occurrences that they are ‘learning experiences’ or ‘a lesson to us all’. What such events teach us are, more often than not, values, without which what I consider to be an education is impossible to achieve – and in my opinion, anybody with such an education is highly unlikely to become a devil, clever or otherwise.
That the educational process, with all its exposure to the scholar of both contact with others and of the lessons to be learned from history (both, we may reasonably conclude, intended to turn mere schooling into “a well-rounded education”), can steadily churn out physicians willing to lop limbs from and blenderize the torsos of unborn babies proves to my satisfaction that even those values that educational institutions pride themselves as able to impart are not morals at all, but mere ethics—the secular poor counterfeit for the true moral sensibility only obtained through being rightly related to the Creator.
That is right. Aptly stated.
(My comment intended as a reply to @Daryl Hoyt’s commentary.)
The above quote is not by C. S. Lewis