Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gloucester Cathedral Choir - In the Bleak Midwinter

We sang this song at my church, St. Michael's Catholic Church, last Sunday as the opening hymn, and I was really impressed with this song. It is a beautiful song and perfect for this frigid midwinter.

In the Bleak Midwinter is wonderful poetry and one of the rare great poems that also makes a great song. It is certainly one of the best poems about the Christmas and winter season.

This has to do with education in the sense that so few Americans are familiar with this great poem by the devout conservative Anglican Christina Rossetti. Why? For the same reason that so few are familiar with their heritage. Liberals in the schools and education schools have pushed horrendous multiculturalism upon students and censored any works with the least bit of religious sentiment. Thus, students are completely unfamiliar with a huge amount of our heritage, especially since the some of the best achievements have been religious in nature.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sense and Social Foundations

Classic literature can be a great place to learn about education policy and philosophy because classic literature by nature has such keen insights into man's behavior and relationships, which is why the literature is considered "classic" in the first place.

For example, Charles Dickens' Hard Times, equally as great as his more famous works, is a terrific novel about the follies of utilitarian and vocational education, which became all the rage among the Progressives (today called "liberals" or "socialists") in the early 1900's, such Columbia's Teachers College's Edward L. Thorndike, whom Diane Ravitch states in Left Back is "broadly recognized as one of the foremost leaders of progressive education" and William Heard Kilpatrick, who literally influenced the entire nation's education philosophy by training nearly all future education professors in the early 1900's from his base at Teachers College. To Kilpatrick, subjects should only be taught if they have socialist utilitarian value. Goodbye to an education in the humanities. Hard Times is an insightful expose into the follies of this utilitarian style of education that has so influenced today's liberals and socialists, including nearly all of the "Social Foundations" professors and other educationists in today's education schools.

Today's liberal educationists are equally as utilitarian as their predecessors in that they believe that all subjects exist only to promote socialism and "social justice." Therefore, math and science are only useful as far as they promote multiculturalism or environmentalism, for example. The Humanities are only valuable if postmodern interpretations can hoisted upon students. Education for its inherent worth is anathema to today's liberals and socialists who dominate education faculties. Their motto: If you can't "deconstruct" it to promote socialism, Marxism, feminism, multiculturalism, gay "rights," and other philosophical errors that they slavishly adhere to in opposition to our classical, Western, and Catholic heritage, it is not worth teaching.

I just finished Jane Austen's wonderful novel Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austin is one of the authors whom liberals and socialist college professors and other shallow, unethical people such as Hollywood screenwriters most absurdly attempt to "deconstruct" and make into a proto-feminist or socialist. In fact, she would be considered a "conservative" or "traditionalist" in today's parlance, which is why she must be "deconstructed" by Orwellian college professors.

Austen in Sense and Sensibility has wonderful insights into education philosophy and how education influences character. Therefore, it is well worth analyzing for students studying education philosophy and policy. She be considered to be a promoter of the type of "character education" that education traditionalists promote and liberals despise.

The shallow, pleasure seeking character of Willoughby is amazingly like what the type of male public schools shape and then put out in droves, and Marianne, who is attracted to and jilted by Willoughby, is exactly the type of female you get from today's public schools. Willoughby and Marianne are entirely influenced by their sensibilities and have very little sense. On the other hand, it is apparent in the novel that traditional morality and a strong academic, humanistic education, combined with virtue--the kind that is sadly absent in most of today's schools--produce people like Elinor and Colonel Brandan, characters with virtue, sense, and charity, exactly the type of individuals that American schools should be forming but aren't.

Austen describes the selfish character of Willoughby through Elinor's perceptions of him:

Elinor made no answer. Her thoughts were silently fixed on the irreparable injury which too early an independence and its consequent habits of idleness, dissipation, and luxury, had make in the mind, the character, the happiness, of a man who, to every advantage of person and talents, united a disposition naturally open and honest, and a feeling affectionate temper. The world had made him extravagent and vain. Extravagence and vanity had made him coldhearted and selfish. Vanity, while seeking its own guilty triumph at the expense of another, had involved him in a real attachment which extravagence, or at least its offspring, necessity, had required to be sacrificed. Each faulty propensity, in leadijng him to evil, had led him likewise to punishment. The attachment from which against honour, against feeling, against every better interest he had outwardly torn himself, now, when no longer allowable, governed every thought; and the connection, for the sake of which he had, with little scruple, left her sister to misery, was likely to prove a source of unhappiness to himself of a far more incurable nature.

Jane Austen could easily be describing, 100 years beforehand, the negative effects of the foremost "progressive" education philosopher John Dewey's education principles: The error that education ought to be based on the "experiences" of the child and governed solely by the interests and whims of the child. He believed this style of education would produce a more just style of government, for him socialism. He is right on the latter (except that socialism is never just), ironically, because his style of education produces, as Austin notes, selfish, coldhearted individuals concerned with shallow pecuniary values (for the good of themselves, not others) and an elite status, exactly the type of individuals who would support John Dewey's socialism--as long as they are in the elite in this socialist government. Everyone gets poorer, but they remain in the elite. It is not surprising that Dewey was a big fan of the Russian Revolution and even visited Russia in the late 1920s.

These type of individuals that Dewey's philosophy and today's public schools, which have been so influenced by him, produce care only about their own pleasures and have no care for traditional morality or other's happiness. Austin writes about Willoughby, "'The whole of his behaviour,' replied Elinor, 'from the beginning to the end of the affair has been grounded on selfishness. . . .His own enjoyment, or his own ease, was in every particular his ruling principle.'" In other words, John Dewey's philosophy that education should be guided by the students selfish whims.

The Catholic belief that Natural Law is unchanging and immutable can explain why Jane Austin a century beforehand so accurately describes the rotten fruits of John Dewey's "education as experience" philosophy and its numerous recycled fads that it has created: "discovery learning," the self esteem movement, learning through projects, students learning "at their own pace, "fuzzy math," and constructivism. No wonder the public schools produce shallow, self-destructive, pop-culture oriented individuals, similar to Willoughby, and those with all sensibility and no sense, similar to Marianne, who self-destructively are attracted to individuals like Willoughby.

When Marianne, through experience, finally gains some sense, she explains how to become a better person. This could easily describe the goal of today's conservative education reformer and traditionalist: "The future must be my proof. I have laid down my plan, and if I am capable of adhering to it my feelings shall be governed and my temper improved. . . .As for Willoughby, to say that I shall soon or that I shall ever forget him would be idle. His remembrance can be overcome by no change of circumstances or opinions. But it shall be regulated; it shall be checked by religion, by reason, and by constant employment."

Religion, reason, and employment (hard work): Exactly the three things "progressives" most deny today's grade school and college students. They get rid of all aspects relating to God in school and society; they destroy reason through their assault on our European, classical, and Catholic heritage and their promotion of barbaric cultures through "multiculturalism." They, through affirmative action and other forms of promotion not based on merit, war against employment and assiduity.

No wonder our society produces so many Willoughbys and Mariannes, and so few Elinors and Colonel Brandons.