1. tenet, a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof
2. a doctrine or code of beliefs accepted as authoritative.
1 a : something held as an established opinion; especially : a definite authoritative tenet b : a code of such tenets
2 : a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church
The word is from a Greek root meaning, "to seem good, think". Hmm.
Here are some quotes from N&N. I think Mr. Hicks is using the word in the sense of 'authoritative code of beliefs':
"I have differed from many modern writers on education by insisting upon the necessity of dogma..." (p. vi)
"Both an elaborate dogma and a man, [the Ideal Type] defied comparison with any man, yet all men discovered themselves in it." (p. 4)
"Like the thinker whose brilliance we universally acclaim, Alfred North Whitehead, we have cultivated a perverse form of modesty and self-deception that, in the absence of dogma (the working yet scientifically undemonstrable hypotheses of the old civilization), has allowed us to forget who we are and what our purposes are, as well as to neglect to teach those lessons to our children." (p. 10)
"Classical education presents the right way, not with the intention of stifling future inquiry, but as a necessary starting point for dialogue. In this sense, dogma can resemble art: it confronts man with some truth about himself, a kind of truth that might have taken him a lifetime of error and misdirection to arrive at for himself, but ultimately, a truth he must test in his own experience of life if he is to appropriate it for himself and benefit from the confrontation." (p. 19)
So-- Mr. Hicks believes dogma is necessary in education. The Ideal Type is dogma. So were the "working yet scientifically undemonstrable hypotheses of the old civilization". Without it, we do not know who man is, and what his purposes are. And dogma can behave like art.
I think I am uncomfortable because I do fear indoctrination, especially if we are talking about education in a larger sense than what I am doing at my house with my own kids. Obviously, I think dogma (Christian dogma, to be specific) is a necessary component of education-- one of the reasons we homeschool is because we have strong convictions regarding "what we think is true". But who picks the dogma for institutional schools? The parents? The school board? The state or national government?
Can dogma be broad enough to be universal and not infringe on religious freedoms when the state runs government schools-- and yet still be that spirit that confronts us with who we are and what we ought to do?
C.S. Lewis, in his book, _Mere Christianity_, talks about certain laws that are accepted by almost every human culture, even the remotest. The fact that so many different cultures have such similar principles, Lewis says, is proof (in the sense of classical inquiry rather than scientific) that a universal code of ethics exists. This is why we can use Greek and Roman myths, African "Anansi" legends, and old European fairy tales as 'organizing stories' for our young folks-- these stories embody universal values.
Could this code be used to form dogma for education, even in a nation in which the definition of 'religious freedom' is being debated? I know some folks have tried (William Bennett comes to mind). Is that what Mr. Hicks is talking about? Is it enough?
Update: It occurred to me as I woke up this morning that CM's student's motto and 20 Principles are dogma, although she did call on the science of her day as proof for some of her principles. She had tremendous respect for and hope of science, it seems. And she also understood the educational necessity-- indeed, the human necessity-- of addressing the questions, "What is man? and what are his purposes?"
"I am, I can, I ought, I will." This was the motto she gave us. I am a human being, one of God's children; I can do right by my fellowmen and by myself; I ought so to do and God help me, I will so do. Is this not a great message she has given us?
--Michael A. E. Franklin, one of Charlotte Mason's students; from In Memoriam