Thursday, November 30, 2006

Jefferson On Education

Jefferson gives advice to a young man. First he starts with matters of character:
And never suppose, that in any possible situation, or under any circumstances, it is best for you to do a dishonorable thing, however slightly so it may appear to you. … Encourage all your virtuous dispositions, and exercise them whenever an opportunity arises; being assured that they will gain strength by exercise, as a limb of the body does, and that exercise will make them habitual.
He continues with cognitive concerns:
An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head is the second. It is time for you now to begin to be choice in your reading … I advise you to begin a course of ancient history, reading every thing in the original and not in translations.
An educated man was expected to know Greek and Latin. College entrance requirements included proficiency in Latin: reading and translating the great Roman writers and orators. Students were also expected to be able to read the New Testament in the original Greek. Jefferson’s recommendations were standard for his day:
First read Goldsmith's history of Greece. This will give you a digested view of that field. Then take up ancient history in the detail, reading the following books, in the following order: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophontis Hellenica, Xenophontis Anabasis, Arrian, Quintus Curtius, Diodorus Siculus, Justin. This shall form the first stage of your historical reading, and is all I need mention to you now. The next, will be of Roman history (Livy, Sullust, Caesar, Cicero's epistles, Suetonius, Tacitus, Gibbon). From that, we will come down to modern history. In Greek and Latin poetry, you have read or will read at school, Virgil, Terence, Horace, Anacreon, Theocritus, Homer, Euripides, Sophocles. Read also Milton's Paradise Lost, Shakespeare, Ossian, Pope's and Swift's works, in order to form your style in your own language. In morality, read Epictetus, Xenophontis Memorabilia, Plato's Socratic dialogues, Cicero's philosophies, Antoninus, and Seneca.
How many of these names are recognizable by today’s university graduates? Jefferson continues to the third matter of concern: physical exercise. His suggestions are quite interesting.
Give about two [hours] every day, to exercise; for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body, and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.
I don’t think Mayor Bloomberg would take too kindly of my exercising in this manner. Jefferson is emphatic about walking and continues with this point in his letter in great detail.
Never think of taking a book with you. The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk; but divert your attention by the objects surrounding you. Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far. … There is no habit you will value so much as that of walking far without fatigue.
The founders were concerned with building character and acquiring the capacities to deal with life’s challenges. From character leads success in life. Character wasn’t something to sacrifice for short term gain or comfort; nor was it “virtue for virtue’s sake.” It was seen as inherently empowering, serving a man well in his life.

The education that Jefferson outlines above is one appropriate to a citizen in a free society – it is a liberal education. It makes one worthy and capable of taking one’s place among other free and civilized men. The strength gained by cultivating the dispositions and skills appropriate to a free man were seen as virtuous in every sense: worthy of the man, creating a sturdy and steady character, providing the potent tools for life, bringing one honor and esteem among civilized and cultivated men and women.

How much we lost! And how much we will have to fight to regain!

28 Comments:

Anonymous Jeremayakovka said...

Bravo, Jason, and thank you for this post. For several years I spent much my free time making up for the gaps in my contemporary (postmodern) education.

11/20/06, 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sure poultry will be along any second to cry about leaving out Marx, Fanon, Menchu and Chomsky.

11/20/06, 9:53 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

An educated man was expected to know Greek and Latin. College entrance requirements included proficiency in Latin...

And did you know that the study of Latin creates neural pathways in the brain and is, in itself, a form of learning therapy?

In one of the private schools in which I worked, the learning therapist insisted that all her students at least audit Latin.

The study of Latin should begin absolutely no later than the age of 10 for maximum results as far as learning therapy goes. And believe it or not, young students love conjugating verbs and declining nouns. Those pursuits make their brains "feel good." Right now, I'm offering my own Latin course to 4-6 graders. Their faces just light up when we have class. When classes resume after Thanksgiving break, we'll be studying verb endings and direct objects; they'll take right to it. I see that taking right to it every time I teach the course to young students.

I know that your post here, Jason, is more about the cultural aspects of studying Latin (and Greek, too, but teachers of Greek are much harder to find these days), but I just had to address the neural aspects as well.

I also love that Jefferson understood the importance of kinetic learning. When walking without reading, the mind is free to absorb what one has been studying. Playing a sport with a ball is wonderful, but it doesn't address certain neural matters.

11/21/06, 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Bilwick said...

I have a book on Jefferson that reprints his recommended reading list to his nephew, and it is very humbling to read, even if you consider yourself fairly educated. Anyone today who had read even a third of the fifty or so titles on the list would be considered a Super Brainiac. And this list was Jefferson's recommendations just "for starters"!

11/21/06, 9:37 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

I envy AOW’s students.

I also agree with bitwick, I’m humbled when I realize how much my education is lacking. I found Jefferson’s letter because I was trying to fill in some of the gaps in my education by reading Cicero and wanted to see what Jefferson thought of the great Latin orator/writer/philosopher/statesman.

By the way, I noticed some excellent quotes by Roman authors on Jeremayakovka website and realized, as he said above, that our education is at best lacking and at worse harmful.

Until the mid-19th century, Latin and Greek were central to a college education. As a consequence, much of the thought of Roman and Hellenic authors were common knowledge among the educated. Even when they championed knew ideas they were aware of what the Ancients thought.

11/21/06, 10:14 AM  
Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

No Homer? Or did I miss that. Doesn't matter. The damn activist liberal schools would substitute the Fagles translation for Butler.

You can't win, can you?

Anyway, it might have been good common sense advice at the time and hardly unique to Jefferson but how do you make a buck with this stuff?

My niece is close to graduating and planning to go into secondary teaching of music and English. Not much Latin, her specialty is Old English heroic poetry.

So it ain't dead yet.

11/21/06, 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Jeremayakovka said...

Thanks for the nod, Jason. The study of Latin is as important as the study of Arabic, in some ways more so.

11/21/06, 12:59 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Jason,
I want to do so much more with my students. There is never enough time! But I am heartened that many of the parents take to heart what I try to get across as far as education goes.

I am ever amazed at Jefferson's brilliance! And his reading list? It leaves me awed.

Off topic here...

Jason, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

11/22/06, 7:13 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Thanks, AOW, have a great Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Every year Caroline Baum publishes this instructive story about Thanksgiving.

11/22/06, 8:18 AM  
Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Doesn't Jason find it a bit jejune that he would carp on the benefits of a classical education and still think his knowledge of Arab culture (end even worse, by extension, Islam) sufficient because he read Patai.

All the lights are on but nobody home.

11/22/06, 11:22 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Patai is a sociologist; Islam is a religious philosophy. I make it very clear that I don’t conflate sociology and philosophy. In fact, many have appreciated my bringing this distinction to their attention. And then again, some don't appreciate my efforts in this regard.

11/22/06, 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Bilwick said...

One wonders what Mr. Ducky's background on Araabic culture (and by extension Islam) is? MUHAMMAD SPEAKS and the DAILY WORKER (sorry, PEOPLE'S WEEKLY WORLD)? Just wondering?

11/22/06, 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Bilwick said...

Well, at least the Duck Pasha can spell "Arabic." (I've gotta remember to "Preview" these things.)

11/22/06, 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Mustang said...

Two hundred years ago, the term liberal education suggested a wide range of topics, from the arts to the sciences. Even into the early 1900s, the mark of an educated person was fluency in Greek, Latin, and French because even then, the gateway to the ancient manuscripts was through an ability to read foreign and ancient languages.

Today, "liberal education" means something else entirely. It is not sufficient to encourage students to research information from a wide range of sources and then form their own conclusions. No, too many of today's teachers push students to accept the instructor's view of the world, no matter how limited or ill informed that understanding may be. Students, who have figured out how to get a passing grade, often roll over for the teacher's point of view. No matter how you slice it, this is not "liberal education."

What we can say about modern American education is that it is designed to produce the worst possible citizen. Today's students learn how to "get over" on the system, how to cheat, and how to succeed by pursuing the path of least resistance. This is all reinforced once (30% of) high school graduates get to college. By then, the successful student is one who readily accepts whatever drivel the professor hands them. Naturally, this explains why most advanced degrees aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on – and why, incidentally, the United States is well on the way in its decline from global influence.

11/22/06, 12:23 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

I'm glad you stopped by Mustang; I knew you'd enjoy this topic. Yes, we have lost a lot. I hope to write more on the knowledge we lost or have only a dim awareness ... and I include myself in that category. I've been reading many of the authors that were valued by our founding fathers. It's never too late for an education.

11/22/06, 12:40 PM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Jefferson was an elitist, writing "By this means twenty of the best geniuses will be raked from the rubbish annually". Thus, he would cull from the mass, those few whose merit warranted a higher education. It raises the question as to whether everyone desires, or is capable of, a liberal education, let alone whether the government should play a role.

Now most people want, and are capable of, learning a trade. This is no small matter, as few people today are skilled at virtually any trade. (How often do you encounter someone who prides himself on his expertise at work?) Moreover, the learning of a trade challenges the mind as well as the body, and requires discipline (which is rarely achieved in our government schools). It permits someone to differentiate between what he understands, and what he doesn't.

What passes for education (outside of the sciences and engineering) is a cursory presentation of viewpoints, where students are rarely able to discern propaganda, let alone logically derive their beliefs.

Has anyone made a case for why most of us would benefit from the kind of education that Jefferson proposed? Perhaps it is a minority of a populace that would be aided? For most, it might be Greek to them.

11/22/06, 2:31 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

I agree that a liberal arts education (in the true meaning of the phrase) isn’t for everyone. Also, respect for and pride in a trade is seldom found. I wonder how much of that is due to the rise of the “entitlement mentality” that engenders a lack of respect for acquiring the habits of character together with the arts and skills that were once a necessity for survival. Sever virtue from the attainment of values and you’ll have little of either.

11/22/06, 2:43 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Another thing about Latin...It builds vocabulary as no other study does.

My husband, who is dyslexic but never got any learning therapy because dyslexia wasn't yet recognized, never did much reading. But he sailed through his college boards, thereby defying the oft-given advice of "Read, read, read." He credits his four years of study of Latin with his excellent performance on the verbal section. Another benefit of his Latin study: his problems with dyslexia lessened. Latin as learning therapy, as I mentioned in an earlier comment.

Mustang is so right about what has happened to education:

What we can say about modern American education is that it is designed to produce the worst possible citizen. Today's students learn how to "get over" on the system, how to cheat, and how to succeed by pursuing the path of least resistance. This is all reinforced once (30% of) high school graduates get to college. By then, the successful student is one who readily accepts whatever drivel the professor hands them.

Though it may sound extreme, I believe that the study of Latin helps to develop the neural pathways for reasoning and thus for cogent debate. When translating from Latin to English, one has to sort and collate. Young students struggle with this process (The process actually makes them physically tired at first!), but with sufficient practice, the skill improves geometrically. Also, students go to the board to put up their translations; then the rest of the class finds the mistake. Most important, the rest of the class has to EXPLAIN the mistake. And the students clamor to go to the board, unless they are very shy--in which case they love being the "audience critic."

Pardon my going on and on about the importance of the study of Latin, but the topic is near and dear to my heart.

BTW, linguist John McWhorter believes that the study of Latin by young students (age 12, at the oldest, to start) would do much to "cure" many of our societal and educational problems.

Weingarten,
Has anyone made a case for why most of us would benefit from the kind of education that Jefferson proposed?

Perhaps Cal Thomas? I know that he is involved in the classical-education movement for private schools. His emphasis is Christian education, but one doesn't have to agree with the Christian aspect to see the benefits of a classical education. Would that our public schools would advocate classical education!

PS: Most SAT verbal prep guides emphasize learning Latin and Greek roots. That "shortcut" of memorizing roots wouldn't be necessary if students studied those languages.

11/22/06, 2:58 PM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

AOW responds to my question "Has anyone made a case for why most of us would benefit from the kind of education that Jefferson proposed?"

"Perhaps Cal Thomas? I know that he is involved in the classical-education movement for private schools."

I read and respect Cal Thomas, and acknowledge his aim for a classical education. However, *I have not found any argument for why it should apply for most people.* Some, such as myself, lack the qualities to benefit from it, while the majority of those I know are even less qualified (which includes many with PhD's). On the other hand, I do know a miniscule few who have the requisite capability.

Wouldn't it be telling, if virtually all of us who have received higher educations were unable to present a case for it? If that were so, then perhaps what passes for education might simply be the repetition of what has not been justified to begin with.

Note that I am not, at this moment, addressing the question of whether there should be a classical education, but the more fundamental matter as to whether people have ever thought about why they believe it.

11/22/06, 3:43 PM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Let me emphasize the value in “Jefferson On Education” regarding a liberal education, and apologize if I have sidetracked the discussion by addressing those who would be good candidates for receiving it.

I believe it was Plato who categorized the types of men, as those who value wealth, or honor, or wisdom. Now consider, of those you know, whether perhaps it is 65% whose highest value is wealth, 30% for whom it is honor, and 5% for whom it is wisdom? (If you require a more objective way to allocate these percentages, consider our leaders in government, and ask how many would sacrifice their benefits for honor, let alone seek wisdom instead.) When it comes to education, wouldn’t those who value wealth be best served by learning a trade, while those who value honor be best served by an education about their culture, where only those whose aspiration is wisdom, would be best served by a liberal education? (As an aside, the Great Books program at St. John’s college does an excellent job.)

Even if most of our youth wanted to become a movie star (or ballroom dancer) we would presume that only a few would be qualified; even if a sizeable number wanted to become an M.D., we would presume that only a few would be qualified; even if many wanted to become professional athletes, we would presume that only a few would be capable. Yet somehow, when it comes to a liberal education, we presume that all people are qualified. Perhaps it indicates that we do not value a serious education enough to conclude that it requires those of exceptional aptitude?

How many of our populace revere a truth-seeker, let alone an accomplished one, such as Ayn Rand or Ludwig von Mises? Could we then conclude that the mass, who are convinced that everyone should have a liberal education, believe it to be the case because they value wisdom?

Next, for those who want the government to further a liberal education, I submit that its chief accomplishment is not education but indoctrination, where all (especially the dropouts) learn how government is good, industry is bad, whites are racists, and the rest of the political correctness.

If it is not government who should provide education, whose responsibility is it? In my view, it is the parents, who ought to transmit their heritage, until their child is self-supporting. They should select among the educators, and be the one’s to pay for it.

Again, my main point is that hardly anyone has considered why universal education, let alone a classical education, would result in a better populace.

Finally, as long as I have digressed so far, allow a deeper digression. What is troublesome about the presumption that all people are qualified to receive a liberal (or classical or higher education) is the underlying premise of the goodness of man. Following the hundred million of unjustified murders in the past century, as well as the crippled, diseased, widowed, orphaned, pauperized, etc., etc, an educated man ought to know that these disasters are due to the common man. Their leaders are not absolved, but they are in place, and remain there, by acceding to the wishes of their followers. We ought not then be concerned about dealing with the evils in the world, without considering the motives and capabilities of the mass.

11/23/06, 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Mustang said...

Weingarten has made some truly exceptional points in the above discussion. At the beginning of “universal education,” the primary goal may have been to provide everyone with basic literacy in order to become better citizens. Somewhere along the way, educationalists transformed universal education into a one-size fits all socialist indoctrination designed to meet the needs to educators, rather than the population at large. The person who wants to obtain advanced degrees in education must develop a hypothesis about learning, and then publish it. How many persons would put so much work into something like this, only to later repudiate their own hair-brained ideas? And of course, the next generation of candidates for advanced degrees is forced to buy in to the idiocy that has become American Education, and they make it even worse with goofy ideas of their own. Some examples of this would include new math and holistic grading. Now that we understand educationalists perpetuate bad ideas, we are left with one additional perplexing question – and that is, why taxpayers are so ready to cave in to the social engineering that comes directly from these educationalists.

Here is what is missing: the acceptance of the fact by parents and educators that there is a wide range of interests, intelligences, and skill sets – few of which are tapped by anyone involved in the American educational system. The reason for this is simple. In order to teach meaningful topics to students according to their interests, intellectual abilities, or skill sets, it is necessary to establish a pathway – and this means “tracking.” Among socialist educators, tracking is the greatest sin. What results under the present system is that students from economically challenged families are forced to take only “college preparatory” classes when there is absolutely no interest in such curricula, no skill set for these kinds of classes, and no support for them at home. What results is high failure rates and drop out rates on the one hand, and a general “dumbing-down” of curriculum by the educationalist institutions as a “face saving” or “job preserving” measure. In short, the system lacks integrity from the top to bottom.

Not every student should be vectored in to Jefferson’s idea of classical education. Many should be offered educational programs that are best suited to their (1) interest, (2) aptitude, and (3) skill set. This is quite easy to achieve, in my view. Interest and aptitude can be determined through testing and discussing those results with students AND their parents. Skill sets are achieved by actually offering courses that meet the needs and desires to students. Educationalists must STOP telling kids who are interested in drafting, automotive repair, carpentry, or welding that “they’ll never amount to anything without a college education.” But like Weingarten, I believe that nothing will change until parents (who are themselves the by-product of a broken socialist system) become fed-up with what is going on in American education and demand meaningful alternatives for their children.

Classical education would be GREAT for some students, but certainly not all. I would only ask that we not leave a majority of kids behind in the quest for improvements in traditional academic education.

11/23/06, 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Tad said...

1. I'm an instructor at a community college that has grown from 3,000 students to 18,000 in ten years.

2. The amount of new, very classy, buildings for instruction, a huge library, a student "success" center, and all sorts of high tech instructional hard/software, padded chairs, landscaping, and the like....boggles the mind.

3. Financial aid for students comes from the federal government (nation-wide taxpayers) and a variety of other sources...including local taxpayers.

4. The college is an "open-enrollment" institution. Thus, ALL students get in, but are tested. If they cannot meet the minimum standards in reading, writing and algebra, they take "developmental" classes. Most take some, if not all of these before they can move into classes for which they will receive academic credit.

5. Paragraph 4. means that taxpayers are paying twice (or more) as those subjects should have been mastered in K-12. I should add the tests are pretty easy.

6. During the ten years I've been at the college, the pass rate in my classes has not varied much. The usual class starts with about 30 students, and by the end of a 15/16 week semester, the number of students still in my classes is about half - or less - the number who started.

7. Why? Even though they must have passed the reading portion of the entrance tests, they really still do not know how to read. Further, they do not LIKE to read. Added to that, most do not really like to work. OK, many of us do not "like" to work....all the time, but we know we have obligations to the greater body politic whom are bankrolling us. Thus we do our "duty", so to speak. Added to that is the notion that mature intelligent individuals recognize that the "pay-offs" will only accure to those who run the race. You cannot walk around the proverbial track and claim to be a runner.

8. Television and video games are the bane of many students. Add drugs, partying, "hanging out" and all sorts of stratagems to avoid doing required reading, research and writing and one is left with lots and lots of young people who waste gasoline coming to school.

9. I have (roughly) 10-15% that are serious students and come to class prepared and are interested in learning. Many of these are people that are in my night classes. They are older and know the clock is ticking and have seen than having more skills and knowledge will actually improve their lives.

10. I concur with Mustang in that most advanced degrees are mostly worthless. I have three past my BA and only one is of any real value. Education in America has slid from educating/socializing children and young adults....to a multiple billion dollar industry. I would submit that it is Child Abuse. We are NOT demanding that children learn at each grade. They are just passed along. We now have armed police in schools. Kids on drugs. Parents who do NOT parent. Single parent "families". Welfare that rewards negative actions. Note: My students that are married and work must pay full tuition. The girls who are unmarried and have a child or more (See latest stats: 3 of 5 babies born, are born to unwed mothers) do NOT have to pay tuition.

11. Do we, as a society, require our fellow citizens to conform to ANY standards of conduct? As adults? As children? Mostly, we do not. This crazy idea that ALL conduct, demeanor, speech and writing is somehow of equal value and worthiness is flat idiotic. Is this notion bigoted, racist, sexist or something? You decide. Damned if I want a semi-idiot as my airline pilot, heart surgeon or even fellow citizen. Knowledge is literally all around us and available for either no cost or little cost. Still most ignore more opportunity than any group of citizens of any country I can think of. By the way, I number nearly none of my friends in the academic "community."

11/23/06, 7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Jason!

Keep them coming!

I check your website daily for the latest!

11/24/06, 10:19 AM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Previously, I wrote that an objective way to estimate the percent of those who value wealth, or honor, or wisdom, is to do so for our political leaders. Yet there is a more quantitative analysis, namely how much people pay to experience each type. For example, we can estimate the price to watch a football game or dancer, or to listen to an entertainer or politician. We can compare that to the price to listen to a man of honor, perhaps one who has performed heroic deeds. Then we can compare this to the price for attending a lecture of a man with wisdom.

As a clue to the preferences, I attend some of the meetings of the Foundation for Economic Education. They have presentations by scholars in economics, history, political science, world affairs, etc. Over the years, the audience was comprised of comparatively few people, often about 30 of us who would sit around a large table. Recently, there are about a hundred attendees. Most significant is that *these lectures are free*, and we are given appetizers, cold drinks, coffee and desert.

I wish we would appreciate the Churchills (i.e., our betters) who can absorb a classical education. However, their status is well below that of people of honor, and far lower than that of people of wealth.


Mustang notes that our education system “lacks integrity from the top to bottom” but that “nothing will change until parents…become fed-up with…American education and demand meaningful alternatives.” Well said, Mustang.

Tad notes that “most advanced degrees are mostly worthless…We are NOT demanding that children learn at each grade…We now have armed police in schools. Kids on drugs. Parents who do NOT parent. Single parent "families". Welfare that rewards negative actions.” He then asks “Do we, as a society, require our fellow citizens to conform to ANY standards of conduct?”

Of course we do, since political correctness is obligatory. To violate it an iota can lose an election, ruin a business, or destroy a career. Perhaps I would add only one word to Tad’s sound commentary: “Do we, as a society, require our fellow citizens to conform to ANY *civilized* standards of conduct?”

11/24/06, 10:42 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Mustang mentions the excellent point that a liberal education furthers the needs of becoming better citizens, which is part of character building.

I’d also add that this should be done on the high school level. At that level there is still a need to stay general by focusing on fundamental skills and knowledge that everyone needs to participate in a free society. There are some who don’t have the interest at that age and there’s no reason that they shouldn’t enter the workforce and, if they are so inclined, return when they are mature (as Ted points out with reference to night students.)

I don’t assume that all institutions of higher learning should be the same. Some might focus on a classical education; others might be (what was once called) technical institutes. When I was young I would have chosen the latter but I have full respect for the former. And, of course, others should choose a trade school, which there were many when I was young.

The most important thing, which is totally lacking today, is honesty. If a person doesn’t know the subject it is dishonest to give them a passing grade. If a student learns nothing in their four years then it is dishonest to give them a degree that implies they have knowledge. Ted, Mustang, and Allan are right, the false notion that everyone can and should learn the same subject conflicts with reality. To cling to the egalitarian notion, educational institutions institute a policy of dishonesty.

However, if the culture was healthier with a broad appreciation of learning (which as Ted points out is far from the case today), we could see a significant implementation of a liberal education at the secondary school level. Sadly today, it would be impossible to achieve that at the college level. The first order of business is to face reality. Presently, only a few could benefit from a classical education, but that will benefit all of us. And it can inspire the next generation.

11/27/06, 8:39 AM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Jason has given a fine summary, including "The most important thing, which is totally lacking today, is honesty. If a person doesn’t know the subject it is dishonest to give them a passing grade."

Yet let us also be honest in noting that the result of a government education has been indoctrination. It is true that the reality is that this form of education will not only continue, but will increase, so there is no realistic chance of restoring a system financed solely by parents of those who receive the product. Even vouchers would not remove government influence, but would extend it.

Nonetheless, it pays to point out that government education indoctrinates. In one way it does so better in our society than in totalitarian countries. In the Soviet Union, some people recognized that they were receiving propaganda; in America we generally believe that our education is balanced.

Consequently, when people tell me how the government saved us in the Great Depression (or how regulations protected us from the meat-packing industry, or how all peoples are equal, etc.) my response is as follows: 'Yes, you have learned many arguments for your point of view, but have you ever studied the opposing point of view?"

What generally follows is a recognition that there are scholarly approaches that they have never heard of, in their "balanced education". They become aware that they are akin to jurors, who have heard the case for the prosecution, without a word for the defense.

So it is fine to advocate reform for our educational system, but worth noting that this will not make a dent in indoctrination.

11/27/06, 9:34 AM  
Blogger Cubed © said...

Despite the success of the Hegelians in wresting control of the education system, there is still hope; take a look at Lisa VanDamme's school at:

http://www.vandammeacademy.com/

I sure wish she'd consider franchising. . .

11/29/06, 8:14 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

I noticed some encouraging developments over at van Damme’s including some novel ideas about how to teach physics. I'd like to hear how that goes. As more people leave the government school systems, there should be some interesting alternatives.

11/30/06, 11:36 AM  

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