The View from the Bridge


REVENGE

SHIP’S (MORAL) COMPASS (above Bridge)

Today I battled manfully, again, with the task of getting a somewhat irregular student to become interested in reading more. I have been working on this task for quite some time. She and her older sister go to a (middling fair) English private school, so you would expect more drive and curiosity than is present there, but they are kind and well-meaning girls even if only lightly-burdened with information about the world’s great issues of the day, and their only wish is to look and act like “celebs” as often as they can get out of school uniform – then of course, everyone will be happy.

I pressed for some minutes, and finally elicited that in “English”, the younger girl’s class have spent the first 6 weeks of term investigating the significance of a book’s “cover illustration” and “what it can tell us” about the “story”. ” (She is 13.) Then, during November, I revert to direct quotation here;

“Well, we’ve been looking at a book, it’s called “Whispers in the Graveyard”, and it’s like it’s about this boy, he’s called Solomon, and like his dad isn’t very nice, and he has dyslexia, so every evening he goes and sits in the graveyard, then so far it’s threse two men, they are from the council, they want to dig it up. (Ed;” do you remember why?”) No. And it’s been found that they buried people there who had smallpox…(Ed; “where’s the boy’s mother in this story?”) Oh, it’s er like his mother’s left him and the dad…..(Ed; “who’s this book by?”) Er, I don’t know, I can’t remember. (Ed; “what is the opinion of others in your English set, of this book?”) I think we quite like it….I’m ot sure…(Ed; what is your teacher’s avowed purpose in class-readng this book for the last 5 weeks?”) I think we are finding like similes and stuff….(Ed; “you mean, figures of speech, such as “metaphors”…) Yes, and humour, and oxymoron……….erm. (Ed; “how far have you got in the book?”) We’ve only read six chapters so far……………..

I’m sorry. For those of you who are still on the compass-deck and have not gone off in boredom, this is typical of the literary fare that English teenagers are fed, even in the “better” schools. I will return to the pretentious nonsense, masquerading as great literature, that they get rammed down their throats in state schools in due time. If you know of better ways of putting semi- or partly-socialised teenagers from an excitement-filled, post-industrial, powerful 1st world country off the great literature of their forefathers, which could help root them to their chairs for a few minutes and concentrate on some idea worth articulating (any idea!) then please convey it to me!

I want to put a proposition to those of you still on this deck. Becuase I want to do something for these wretched, miserable, deprived, robbed teenagers.

Suppose that you had a 700Mb CD-Rom, an ordinary, cheapo unleaded one, and you had to fill it with the world’s greatest and grandest and most exciting literature? Written with either the most soul-shaking prose: Or containing the finest language that Man could utter: Or painting the most noble pictures of heroism in the face of unguessable odds: Or telling an ordinary story in extraordinary ways?

What would you put on MY CD-Rom? What do YOU think would inspire these poor Lancashire adolescents?

I already plan to give them the complete Shakespeare (BUT, it’s searchable for anything INSTANTLY! So they may even go for it. It’s only 6Mb and I have prepared it.) How about, for example, the King James Bible? (They won’t even think of opening it yet, but in time.) The Principia Mathematica? The entirety of the Lord of the Rings, WITH the Silmarillion and “Unfinished Tales” which are the background that make the rest of the work worthwhile? And of course the Periodic Table?

What would any of you add? I’d love to know.

My wife said “The Ten Commandments” and “all information on how to cure any sick-people”.

There’s plenty of room, so please suggest!

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7 responses to “The View from the Bridge

  1. The answer from a libertarian point of view seems obvious to me.

    Nothing should be put in your CD. Your pupil must be left alone. Did she consent to this education bussiness ?

    If she didn’t, then, what’s the difference between the state’s ‘education’ and your brand ?

    Best,

    Juan in South America.

  2. Juan , I take your point entirely at least from a libertarian point of view; however, you possibly do not know any large mass of English children directly, and probably not large numbers of the male variety.

    Fist of all, my pupil consented to have me teach her, or she would not be sitting there in front of me each week!

    Then, English young males have been known for centuries to be pre-socialised, barbaric monsters. For the good of the Natural Rights (the three real ones, which you will know) they must NOT be allowed to exercise anything that you or I would term as “free will” in the matter of what they do or what they learn during highly-structured, quite long daytimes, until they have reached an age, I’d say about 10 or 11, when you can talk to them in an adult way about right and wrong, freedom and tyranny, knowledge and ignorance, and the consequences of choosing one over the other.

    I was one of these monsters myself, possibly until I started going to a 1950s school at the age of almost five. (you still learned things worth knowing, in those days, even as a toddler.)

    The trouble with “no curriculum” if that is what you mean I ought to promote, is that it is effectively what is going on here now, courtesy of the State. Since there is no discipline (mental or social) that is applied or can be by law, and since the “academic” part of the “curriculum” contains no substance whatever, the notion of any learning is effectively absent. All that remains is a sequence of “politically-correct” nostrums and “positions to take”, that are sanctioned by the Government (it is after all Socialist) and able to be promoted by teachers, most of whom are also socialist sympathisers, and nearly all of whom and viscerally anti-capitalist and anti-liberal.

    In this situation, to save some shards of what was once a great Civilisation and its inherited tradition of classical liberal education and store of increasing knwoledge and wisdom (Great Britain), I have to put something else in place, to take root and save these poor people – especially the boys, who suffer more terribly and faster than the girls, under the existing system, and become de-educated, unsocialised beasts, out of all proportion to what you, in South America, would expect. Remember also, that they get next to no help from what passes for or remains of their “families”, this idea and institution having been largely terminated by this government and the last.#

    So, what I am having to do is structure a path of incremental layers of useful and instructive knowledge, with sufficient intellectual stress embedded so as to keep the young male brain (especially) busy and occupied for many hours a day, for 12 years or more.
    When we have fixed Britain, and got us back on the road of civillisation again (becuase we are right now very busy falling off it) then I could think of applying your libertarian solution of “no curriculum” (if that is what you meant.) Until then I thInk you would agree that they little buggers have got to be saved from themselves, and taught SOMETHING – anything other than what they get now.

    Right now, a strictly libertarian approach to the education of youngsters – in particular the difficult ones such as English Boys – would not work in my opinion. Libertarianism is, and always has been, in danger of being thought of as a philosophy only for the Clever and Successful. Then, you also have to ask yourself; how does a human being become clever and successful in the first place? Answer; by haveing been given (at the relevant age, it is “given” and there is no consent involved, and it works) a classical liberal education, as invented by Anglo-European Christian civilisation.

    best rgds. David Davis

  3. David,
    I believe that you want to get rid of socialist education. So do I. But it seems to me that you intend to replace it with conservative education.
    (by conservative I mean the ancien regime. A system based on legal privileges at odds with private property, contracts, etc).
    “Libertarianism is, and always has been, in danger of being thought of as a philosophy only for the Clever and Successful.”
    But that is, as you know, a misrepresentation.
    “Then, you also have to ask yourself; how does a human being become clever and successful in the first place? ”
    To me the crucial point is, How does a human being learn to respect the property of his neigbours ? Perhaps some people are born tresspassers who can’t be curbed no matter how ?
    “Answer; by haveing been given (at the relevant age, it is “given” and there is no consent involved, and it works) a classical liberal education, as invented by Anglo-European Christian civilisation.”
    Well, the problem is of course, what’s meant by a ‘classical liberal education’ ?
    Is being forced to learn Greek, Latin and Shakespeare for 12 years such an education ?

    Best,
    J.

  4. Jackie,

    “Socialist education” is an interesting oxymoron! You and I will, I am sure, agree that it only takes place within polities where the prevailing tyranny wants to bring about some particular political end, via fashioning “The People” in some image or other, so that a new “People” does not have to be elected – such as in R3*, and in today’s UK.

    However, the education in the Soviet Empire was (and I know many (real) people from it) of a very high conservative order; if you are bent on Dominating The West, then you had jolly well better be better educated than it, as a whole, and also you’d better know how it works, and what it believes and reveres.) I was well-impressed with the amount that my (Polish) wife knows about Western culture, history, science and literature.

    Do I mean conservative education (small “c”) ? Yes, I do. I did not know a boy at my school who did not love Greek. I wanted to do it for O-level along with hostory and geography, but I could only choose one from Greek, German, History, Geography. But I made a wrong choice, being allowed to, and did German. Latin does infants and primary-school children no harm, and teaches them grammar and logic. By this means they are enabled to take critical decisions. The bonus is that they can learn French, Italian, Spanish and portuguese in doublequick time.

    The other, more valuable result, is that they can learn how to tell what words in Indo-European (and English, which has been the most flagrant borrower of words ever) mean, and therefore they will NEVER be bamboozled by politicians, ever again. I have to explain, for example, what “Schadenfreude” means (and that it is capitalised as it is a Noun).

    Shakespeare? He is possibly the greatest writer in the history of the modern world. You must agree how beautiful and timeless his prose and poetry are. I am sure you know lots of it. How can you and Juan deny me the opportunity of SUGGESTING to these people that they might like to sample his work? They might reject it. OK, I will not force them to read it – wuould you like to be forced to read Simon Armitage, Ted Hughes, his suicidal wife’s stuff, and stuff by unknown “modern” “poets” that they are (forced to read) ( = given) in the “poetry anthology” that I am (forced to teach) ?

    Jackie, actually I was being a bit mealy-mouthed. I should have gone much further in the first reply. At this time I truly believe that libertarianism IS only a (usable) philosphy for the clever and successful.
    I will bet you 50p that there are no persons on the LA mailing list who do not, at least in general terms, qualify for this description. No, I will make it £5. I will not widen the category, since I know a number of sound individuals in Lancashire who you and I on the surface might qualify as libertarians in almost all respects, but who would allow the State the power to hang people that it tries, and also the power to raise taxation.

    Why is my position, exactly, a “misrepresentation” of the situation that actually exists, at this time in the world, for libertarianism?

    At the end of the day, how many hairless knifing young male criminals (who can grunt well but can’t say anything other than f*** or “wha~ever”, pronounced “WO – Evva”) do you find in British cities, who have had a “conservative” education?

    All best rgds, DD

    *R3 is a pejorative shorthand for the Third Reich, when I blog about it on Eurorealist. It did the second largest amount of damage to civilisation after the USSR, corrupting with its ideas, as it did, the heart of conservative Civilisation, the wannabe-Christian nations of W Europe. You can have R1, R2 and R4 also; I’ll let you predict what R4 is.

  5. David,

    I don’t know English children first hand, yet I’m not willing to accept the assertion that they are natural -savages. That sounds to me like Hobbes’ argument for absolutism. Your premise seems to be that the ‘grown-ups’ are sensible and capable of ‘socializing’ or educating children. However, the current totalitarian and lawless climate in the West is direct responsability of those grown ups. I believe that children and youngsters are more honest and good natured than adults. They naturally believe in Natural Rights. However, as a result of being mistreated by adults and their nation-states they loose this virtue.

    The curriculum of a conservative education is better that what children now get at school. I don’t deny that. But the problem I see is that children will resent being coherced into reading Shakespeare anyway. I think children must be allowed to choose what they want to learn. Would you call that “no curriculum” ?

    Perhaps there’s a misunderstanding. If you are saying that the state schools will be more useful if they had a non-socialist curriculum, I’m afraid I isagree. If state schools hade a decent curriculum, they would look better, but in reality they would fail just like any other statist enterprise. However, If you are proposing a free market for education and saying that your school would be conservatice, then fine.

    “However, the education in the Soviet Empire was (and I know many (real) people from it) of a very high conservative order; ”

    So the soviet elites had a conservative education, and at the same time murdered some 30 million people ?

    “At this time I truly believe that libertarianism IS only a (usable) philosphy for the clever and successful.”
    “Why is my position, exactly, a “misrepresentation” of the situation ”

    Hmm – I might have misunderstood you. If you mean that libertarianism can only work if people have reached a certain moral standard, then I agree with you. But I don’t think that cleverness and success define that standard. Libertarianism is a philosophy for honest people, in my opinion. A man may not be very clever, or very succesful, but he may a good intuitive understanding of natural rights, i.e. be honest.

    Best,
    J.

  6. In a message dated 29/12/2006 18:01:42 GMT Standard Time, jldanicki@yahoo.co.uk writes:

    I don’t know English children first hand, yet I’m not willing to accept the assertion that they are natural -savages.

    (JACKIE, I ONLY CAPITALISE SO YOU CAN SEE WHERE I COMMENT.)

    YOU SHOULD COME HERE AND MEET SOME WITH ME.

    That sounds to me like Hobbes’ argument for absolutism. Your premise seems to

    be that the ‘grown-ups’ are sensible and capable of ‘socializing’ or educating children. However, the current totalitarian and lawless climate in the West is direct responsability of those grown ups. I believe that children and youngsters are more honest and good natured than adults. They naturally believe in Natural Rights.

    I DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU GOT THAT IDEA. THEY DO NOT BELIEVE ANYTHING OF THE KIND. YOU ARE MISTAKEN. I (TRY TO) TEACH THEM.

    “NATURAL RIGHTS” IS A HIGHLY-EVOLVED, INTRICATE AND ABSTRACT CONCEPT, ONLY CAPABLE OF BEING UNDERSTOOD BY INTELLECTUALLY-INCLINED ADULTS WITH TIME TO READ AND COMTEMPLATE. I DO NOT SAY THAT IT IS NOT CORRECT AND ABSOLUTELY AXIOMATIC THAT IT EXISTS – MERELY THAT IT DOES not EXIST IN “unsocialised” POPULATIONS OF YOUNG MALES (ESPECIALLY) IN PLACES WHERE socialists HAVE HAD FREE REIGN FOR MORE THAN ONE GENERATION OF PERSONS, EG THE UK INNER CITIES, WHERE THEY HAVE SET UP ROTTEN (AND POCKET) BOROUGHS. I TAKE IT FOR GRANTED THAT YOU KNOW WHAT A ROTTEN (AND A POCKET) BOROUGH IS.

    However, as a result of being mistreated by adults and their nation-states they

    loose this virtue.

    The curriculum of a conservative education is better that what children now get at school. I don’t deny that. But the problem I see is that children will resent being coherced into reading Shakespeare anyway. I think children must be allowed to choose what they want to learn. Would you call that “no curriculum” ?

    CHILDREN, NOT HAVING BEEN INSTRUCTED IN WHAT A CIVILISATION IS, LET ALONE HOW TO PRESERVE IT AND EXTEND IT, CANNOT KNOW WHAT TO LEARN, ABOUT IT. DID YOU KNOW WHAT TO LEARN WHEN YOU WERE 6? OR 5? OR 7? OR 11?

    I AGREE THAT THE GUMMENT CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO TELL THEM WHAT TO LEARN, IF IT IS SOCIALIST OR UTOPIAN, WHICH IS A FICTION IN EITHER CASE.

    Perhaps there’s a misunderstanding. If you are saying that the state schools will be more useful if they had a non-socialist curriculum, I’m afraid I isagree. If state schools hade a decent curriculum, they would look better, but in reality they would fail just like any other statist enterprise. However, If you are proposing a free market for education and saying that your school would be conservatice, then fine.

    I WOULD COLSE ALL TEACHER-TRAINING COLLEGES (ANOTHER OXYMORON) AND ONLY ALLOW PEOPLE TO TEACH IF THEY HAD QUALIFIED FOR THE OLD ROMAN SENATE. CLEARLY THIS WILL NOT PROVIDE ENOUGH TEACHERS SO i WOULD ALSO SAY THAT ONLY conservative men over 55 WOULD BE ALLOWED TO APPLY OUTIDE THE SYSTEM.

    ALL MEN OVER 50 BECOME conservative, AS THEY WILL BY THEN HAVE BEEN MUGGED BY REALITY, MANY MANY TIMES.

    “However, the education in the Soviet Empire was (and I know many (real) people from it) of a very high conservative order; ”

    So the soviet elites had a conservative education, and at the same time murdered some 30 million people ?

    I TALK ABOUT THE COLD WAR. I AM NOT REFERRING TO THE LENINO-STALINISTO-KRZHUSZCZOVIANO-BRZEZHNEVIANO TERROR. THEY ALSO WANTED TO WIN.
    IN THE ARMY, I WAS TAUGHT THAT THE SOVIET SOLDIER KNEW HOW TO DO 11 THINGS, AND SO WOULD BE EASY TO DEFEAT.
    NONE OF US SOLDIERS BELIEVED IT FOR A MOMENT, FOR WE KNEW “HIM” PERSONALLY, HAVING “MET” HIM ON “EXERCISES”, AND SO WE never UNDER-ESTIMATED HIM.

    “At this time I truly believe that libertarianism IS only a (usable) philosphy for the clever and successful.”
    “Why is my position, exactly, a “misrepresentation” of the situation ”

    Hmm – I might have misunderstood you. If you mean that libertarianism can only work if people have reached a certain moral standard, then I agree with you. But I don’t think that cleverness and success define that standard. Libertarianism is a philosophy for honest people, in my opinion. A man may not be very clever, or very succesful, but he may a good intuitive understanding of natural rights, i.e. be honest.

    HOW CAN MAN LEARN TO BE honest ( I accept your definition) IF HE /SHE HAS NOT BEEN TAUGHT A CERTAIN MORAL STANDARD WITH WHICH TO COMPLY?

    REMEMBER, I AM DEALING WITH (S0ME) CHILDREN WHO HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN any any any MORAL COMPASS. IF I DO NOT ACT, THEN SOME COULD JOIN EXECUTION SQUADS IN EINSATZ VANS, AND NOT KNOW THAT THEY WERE DOING WRONG.

    I CAN’T MAKE THESE INTO LIBERTARIANS AS EASILY AS THE ENGAGED ONES, BUT I COULD IF I OPENED THEIR HORIZONS TO THE BROAD SWEEP OF ANGLOSPHERE (the best sphere – either we are right or we are wrong, but if the mohammedans think they are so right then why not us too? In the terms of their supporters here, this is a multi-culti world after all!) AND THE CULTURE THAT THEY COULD HAVE AND BENEFIT FROM RIGHT NOW HERE.

    I DO NOT KNOW, BUT I SUSPECT THAT THERE IS A TRAGIC FLAW AT THE HEART OF LIBERTARAIN PHILOSOPHY ABOUT WHAT CHILDREN THINK ABOUT THEIR EDUCATION.

    CHILDREN DO NOT KNOW HOW THAY OUGHT TO BE EDUCATED, BECAUSE ADULTS WHO KNOW HOW TO EDUCATE THEM ALSO KNOW THAT THE CHILDREN ALSO DO NOT YET KNOW HOW TO LEARN HOW TO BE EDUCATED. THE TURNOVER AGE IS ABOUT 5, AND

    TO SUCCEED……………

    THE AGE WHEN YOU HAVE TO get them out of the orbit of popular (state) culture (football, murders, computer games, playstations, celebs, BBCnews, etc etc etc etc etc) is about TWO.

    BEST RGDS, dd

    Best,
    J.

  7. David,
    There seems to be some ‘technical’ problem. You’re atributing my comments (I’m Juan) to Jackie. There seems to be a mailing list runing ‘parallel’ to the blog ?, but I’m not subscribed to the that ML.

    Back to the discussion…

    D: “Natural Rights” is a highly-evolved, intricate and abstract concept, only capable of being understood by intellectually-inclined adults with time to read and comtemplate.

    J: That may be true from an academic/philosophical point of view. At the same time millions of people who never heard about Spencer’s Social Statics or libertarianism, behave according to libertarian rules such as do not kill, steal, or lie.

    D: Natural Rights do not exist in “UNSOCIALISED” populations of young males (especially) in places where socialists have had free reign for more than one generation

    J: Well! That can be easily construed as proving my position. It turns out that natural rights do not exist where the spontaneous order of society has been forcefully suppresed by the state. Colectivism is not natural because human beings naturally exist as individuals, not as ‘colectives’. You need to use violence to disable natural rights.

    J: So the soviet elites had a conservative education, and at the same time murdered some 30 million people ?

    D: I talk about the cold war. I am not referring to the lenino-stalinisto-krzhuszczoviano-brzezhneviano terror

    J: So the soviet elites had a conservative education but their centrally planned economy was pure rubbish ? Did their conservative education prevent the fall of their ‘empire’ in the 90s ?

    D: How can man learn to be honest ( I accept your definition) if he /she has not been taught a certain moral standard with which to comply?

    J: In two ways. Firstly, I think that morality is part of ‘human nature’. I think people have an intuitive understanding of right and wrong. I admit that not ALL people have it, and that at times it seems as if the majority is hoppelessly wicked. Still, there were times when people seemed to be civilized, say, 19th century UK. Or the States before the Secession War. Even most of Europe at that time.

    So, some people are spontaneously good natured. You don’t need to ‘teach’ them anything. For the other people who do not realize that they should not kill, steal or lie, there is retaliation, private police, insurance, etc. People trying to behave rudely in a civilized enviroment won’t get very far.

    Also, perhaps there’s some misunderstanding with the word ‘teach’.

    You can teach me physics. You can not teach me morals, at least in the same abstract way that subjects are taught in school or the lab.

    D: I do not know, but I suspect that there is a tragic flaw at the heart of libertarain philosophy about what children think about their education.

    J: Well, do you think that the critic of interventionism on the market that libertarians so relish is valid ? Do you realize for instance that if the govt, be it either SOCIALIST or CONSERVATIVE, tampers with prices it will never achieve the ends it claims it wants ? Price controls do not produce cheaper goods, price controls produce shortages. That’s a natural law This libertarian analysis is indeed flawless

    Now, the same thing applies to education. You’re seeking an end – civilized children. My libertarian philosophy* tells me that the means you seem to favour, coercion starting at 5, will never yield the results you want.

    *mostly good old logic.

    Best,
    J.