The View From 1776
Monday, November 12, 2012
Reform Education If The Constitution Is To Survive
Traditionalists (conservatives who wish to preserve our original constitutional ethos) need to create a long-term strategy to reclaim education from the liberal-progressive-socialists.
Most parents want their children to become sufficiently proficient in the 3Rs to get a personally rewarding and well-paid job when they leave the educational system.
Equally important, transmitting the ideals of religious morality via education is society’s only effective defense against political tyranny.
In his “Paideia: the Ideals of Greek Culture” (1933), Werner Jaeger capsules the classical Greek conception of education, a standard against which we can measure present-day secular education ideas. He wrote:
“The ancients were persuaded that education and culture are not a formal art or an abstract theory, distinct from the objective historical structure of a nation’s spiritual life. They held them to be embodied in literature, which is the real expression of all higher culture.”
Professor Jaeger continues: “...Education is the process by which a community preserves and transmits its physical and intellectual character…. men can transmit their social and intellectual nature only by exercising the qualities through which they created it: reason and conscious will. Through the exercise of these qualities man commands a freedom of development which is impossible to other living creatures, if we disregard the theory of prehistoric mutations in species and confine ourselves to the world of experience.”
Contrast this to the liberal-progressive-socialistic practice of multi-cultural education, designed expressly to degrade and erase the foundational traditions of Western civilization, particularly Judeo-Christian morality.
The concept of moral and cultural Ideals and their transmission through education is a distinctly Greek contribution to the Western world.
The Greek term that comprehensively embodied the spoken and written Ideals of their culture is paideia, of which the Wikipedia says: “Paideia” is found in the word “Encyclo paedia .” The Greeks considered Paideia to be formed by the aristocratic class, who were said to have intellectualized their culture and their ideas. The culture and the youth are then ‘moulded’ to the ideal. The aristocratic ideal is the Kalos Kagathos ; “The Beautiful and the Good.” This idea is similar to medieval knights, their culture and the English word gentleman.”
This classical ideal is not even on the radar of present-day liberal-progressives.
Like Soviet Communists (see Milan Kundera, “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting” and “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”), our present-day public educators wish to obliterate the inconvenient, two-hundred-eighty-year-old traditions of American political society.
In Kundera’s novels (which are based on historical experience), Czech youth grew up under Soviet-controlled education believing that Czechoslovakia always had been part of the Soviet Comintern. They were entirely ignorant of the real history and traditions of their homeland. Kundera’s characters in the novels muse about retouched official photos from which now out-of-favor, but formerly important, Czech socialist party leaders had been erased; how their names were removed from all news archives, text books, and official records, making them “non-persons.”
Rather the same process has been applied to our text books by the liberal-socialist committees of educators who slithered into the tent of education after President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society began, for the first time, to fund local schools under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The founding fathers are more or less marginalized as hypocritical slave owners, while obscure women and people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds are more prominently featured. Such people, of course, deserve credit for the real contributions they made to the survival and growth of the United States. But without the founding fathers, the United States simply would not exist today.
Without knowledge of them and of the Western European, and especially English, historical background, it is literally impossible to understand the United States. Thus today we get Ivy League cum laude graduates who are ignorant of American history, have no idea where Omaha, Nebraska, is to be found, nor have the slightest understanding of international capital flows. All they “know” is that the United States is a greedy, capitalistic, racist, and imperialistic nation that is responsible for all the world’s troubles. They freely denounce people as Nazis or Fascists without the slightest specific knowledge of the socialistic political systems described by those terms.
Small wonder that Americans have near the lowest level of personal savings in the world and some of the highest rates of illegitimate birth ever recorded. Such markers of social disintegration can be correlated directly with the capture of our educational system by liberal-socialists intent upon indoctrinating students with secular materialism. Liberal-socialists regard high cultural ideals as unacceptably elitist; theirs is the vision of reducing everyone to the lowest common denominator of economic, social, and political rank, which they call social justice.
And, in the midst of the hedonistic orgy, at the very time when national politics has assumed more the characteristics of a holy war than of a debate, we confront a rising tide of immigration, much of it from Latin or Asian societies with cultural traditions very different from ours, traditions that encompass no experience of democratic self-rule comparable to ours.
Returning to high educational standards and the late-19th century “melting pot” conception of education is almost our only hope if the United States is to remain united. When education ceases to preserve traditions of morality and civic virtue, societies begin to fracture into warring camps. In such disorder, a tyrannical leader like Napoleon, Franklin Roosevelt, or Adolph Hitler always steps forward to restore order at the expense of political liberty.