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Monday, March 12, 2007

A View Of the Left: Education

"Hence the educational problem is wholly different according as you stand within or without the Tao [the set of traditional moral virtues]. For those within, the task is to train in the pupil those responses which are in themselves appropriate, whether anyone is making them or not, and in making which the very nature of man consists. Those without, if they are logical, must regard all sentiments as equally non-rational, as mere mists between us and the real objects. As a result, they must either decide to remove all sentiments, as far as possible, from the pupil's mind; or else to encourage some sentiments for reasons that have nothing to do with their intrinsic 'justness' or 'ordinacy'. The latter course involves them in the questionable process of creating in others by 'suggestion' or incantation a mirage which their own reason has successfully dissipated.

"Perhaps this will become clearer if we take a concrete instance. When a Roman father told his son that it was a sweet and seemly thing to die for his country, he believed what he said. He was communicating to the son an emotion which he himself shared and which he believed to be in accord with the value which his judgement discerned in noble death. He was giving the boy the best he had, giving of his spirit to humanize him as he had given of his body to beget him. But Gaius and Titius [progressive contemporary educators] cannot believe that in calling such a death sweet and seemly they would be saying 'something important about something'. Their own method of debunking would cry out against them if they attempted to do so. For death is not something to eat and therefore cannot be dulce in the literal sense, and it is unlikely that the real sensations preceding it will be dulce even by analogy. And as for decorum—that is only a word describing how some other people will feel about your death when they happen to think of it, which won't be often, and will certainly do you no good. There are only two courses open to Gaius and Titius. Either they must go the whole way and debunk this sentiment like any other, or must set themselves to work to produce, from outside, a sentiment which they believe to be of no value to the pupil and which may cost him his life, because it is useful to us (the survivors) that our young men should feel it. If they embark on this course the difference between the old and the new education will be an important one. Where the old initiated, the new merely 'conditions'. The old dealt with its pupils as grown birds deal with young birds when they teach them to fly; the new deals with them more as the poultry-keeper deals with young birds— making them thus or thus for purposes of which the birds know nothing. In a word, the old was a kind of propagation—men transmitting manhood to men; the new is merely propaganda. ...

"In the older systems both the kind of man the teachers wished to produce and their motives for producing him were prescribed by the Tao—a norm to which the teachers themselves were subject and from which they claimed no liberty to depart. They did not cut men to some pattern they had chosen. They handed on what they had received: they initiated the young neophyte into the mystery of humanity which over-arched him and them alike. It was but old birds teaching young birds to fly. This will be changed. Values are now mere natural phenomena. Judgements of value are to be produced in the pupil as part of the conditioning. Whatever Tao there is will be the product, not the motive, of education. The conditioners have been emancipated from all that. It is one more part of Nature which they have conquered. The ultimate springs of human action are no longer, for them, something given. They have surrendered—like electricity: it is the function of the Conditioners to control, not to obey them. They know how to produce conscience and decide what kind of conscience they will produce. They themselves are outside, above. For we are assuming the last stage of Man's struggle with Nature. The final victory has been won. Human nature has been conquered—and, of course, has conquered, in whatever sense those words may now bear."
--C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

Oprah's school 'too strict'

Meanwhile the school seems to have made the rules even stricter. Until now, the girls could receive visitors every fortnight, but parents can now only visit them once a month. ...

'Surely this isn't a prison?'

Cellphones and e-mail correspondence are out of bounds during the week, and girls are only allowed to phone their parents at weekends.

The maximum number of visitors per pupil is four, and visits have to be approved by the school at least two weeks in advance.

Mans said she had to wait at the security gate for half an hour to be signed in when she went to visit her daughter last Sunday.

"It was a nightmare. We had only two hours to see my child. Surely this isn't a prison or an institution?"

The names of visitors must also match those on the security guard's list before guests are allowed in.

Parents are not allowed to smuggle junk food in to the girls past the matrons.

"Then the girls lose points," says Mans.

The girls get points for "good behaviour", which they can exchange at a school shop for clothes and caps.

For the past few decades, every school program advocated by the left has had one thing in common: it takes power away from the parents and into the hands of their own elite, their "professionals." School breakfasts, latchkey, sex education, health education, home economics classes-- all these assume authority over positions traditionally filled by the child's parents, whom, more often than with educators, we can trust, are concerned for their child's interest and not some preconceived, "progressive," "enlightened," "foreward-minded," "open-minded," empty-minded model that the child needs to be chiseled into.

That's not to say all these programs were promoted on that basis, but nonetheless that has been their effect. Things have gotten to the point where in my (conservative!) hometown of Howell, when parents criticized a changed sex ed policy that taught thirteen-year-olds how to use condoms, and about all the different orifices capable of sexual activity, and about homosexuality, and every other conceivable notion the school could use to rape the poor children's minds, they were told (or more accurately, demanded) that such decisions should be left in the hands of those "trained" in the subject. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but certainly any rational parent of goodwill can see the dangers of handing our children over to the education establishment to be molded into whatever they wish (on this note, I would recommend anyone concerned for our schools or our future read the short essay "Lilies that Fester" by C.S. Lewis, available in the book
The World's Last Night by Harcourt Publishing Co.)

Oprah's school is a perfect example of how liberals believe the government, and particularly the schools, ought to approach the individual: not as "one bird teaching another how to fly," but as poultry to be raised, plucked, and devoured all for their own purposes. It is a perfect example of why we cannot trust the left, our schools, the teaching establishment, the media, or society itself with the education of our children. It is a perfect example of why we must, in our deeply fallen culture, take up our rightful duty, and take responsibility for our children's education-- whether they be enrolled in public, private, or home school, parents must assume authoritive supervision over this subject.

But come on, says the fox outside the hen house door, trust me.

We dare not!


Anonymous Christine said...

Excellent points, Daniel. You make a very good case presenting the dangers of having liberals in charge of children's education. Not enough people realize the devastating consequences of such "progressive" policies.

March 12, 2007 4:17 PM  

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