04 November 2011

Two of the Last Hopes to Preserve Civilization: Homeschooling and the Internet

The full article from which I publish excerpts below comes from LewRockwell.com.  Fred Reed writes, in his typical style muy-irreverente, about the twilight of Western civilization.  He ignores the essential guardian of civilization, the Catholic Church, but he gets many of the symptoms and mediate causes right.

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A Culture in Regression

by Fred Reed

The night closes in. Read the surveys of what children know, what students in universities know. Approximately nothing. We have become wanton morons. As the intellectual shadows fall again, as literacy declines and minds grow dim in the new twilight, who will copy the parchments this time?

No longer are we a schooled people. Brash new peasants grin and peck at their iPods. Unknowing, incurious, they gaze at their screens and twiddle, twiddle. They will not preserve the works of five millennia. They cannot. They do not even know why.

Twilight really does come. Sales of books fall. Attention spans shorten. Music gives way to angry urban grunting. The young count on their fingers when they do not have a calculator, know less by the year. We have already seen the first American generations less educated than their parents. College graduates do not know when World War One happened, or what the Raj was. They have read nothing except the nothing that they read, and little of that. Democracy was an interesting thought.

Ours will be a stranger Dark Age than the old one. Our peasants brush their teeth and wash, imagine themselves of the middle class, but their heads are empty.

And they rule. We have achieved the dictatorship of the proletariat. Hod-carriers in designer jeans, they do not quite burn books but simply ignore them. Their college degrees amount to high-school diplomas, if that, but they neither know nor care.

[...]

Yet ours is a curious bleakness. Good things of everywhere and all time lie free for the having. [...] This is news to no one. Yet it may prove important in ways we do not think.

[...]

It is literally true that the better is suspect. If you correct a high-school teacher's grammar, she will accuse you of stultifying creativity, of racism, of insensitivity. If you reply that had you wanted your children brought up as baboons, you would have bought baboons in the first place, she will be offended.

Home-schooling, it seems to me, becomes a towering social responsibility. I have actually seen a teacher saying that parents should not let children learn to read before they reach school. You see, it would put them out of synch with the mammalian larvae that children are now made to be. Bright children not only face enstupiation and hideous boredom in schools taught by complacent imbeciles. No. They are also encouraged to believe that stupidity is a moral imperative.

Once they begin reading a few years ahead of their grade, which commonly is at once, school becomes an obstacle to advancement. This is especially true for the very bright. [...]

[...]

In an age of blinkered specialization perhaps we should revive the idea of the Renaissance man. Today the phrase is quaint and almost condescending (though how do you condescend up?), arousing the mild admiration one has for a dancing dog. A time was when the cultivated could play an instrument, paint, knew something of mathematics and much of languages, traveled, could locate France, attended the opera and knew what they were attending. They wrote clearly and elegantly, this being a mark of civilization. I think of Benvenuto Cellini, born 1500, superb sculptor, professional musician, linguist, elegant writer, and good with a sword.

If there is any refuge, it is the Internet. Let us make the most of it.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

A good article, I think which in its entirety supports the author's final statement much more clearly than the excerpts above.

This week our boys checked out from the library "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", a #1 New York Times bestseller by Jeff Kinney. It was not long before I realized what trash these books are. Needless to say, they will be returned at our next opportunity. But talk about dumbing down our children! These books, written about middle-schoolers, for middle-school aged children, are written and illustrated for the lowest, intellectually. On the literary food pyramid, they are the Pop-Tarts. Ten and 11 year old boys will surely laugh at them; parents should be disgusted and appalled. And THIS is what gets some 300 5-star reviews for great reading on Amazon. Pretty scary.

Homeschooling, indeed. And vigilant parents.

AMDG

Methodist Jim said...

Timman . . . you've gotten old in a hurry.

Anonymous said...

Hey, wait a minute, AMDG. When you're talking down Pop Tarts, hoss, you're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.

Take it back right now.

Sincerely,

Proud SLPS Parent

P.S. And for all right-thinking Americans out there (clearly not AMDG), is there anything better than an unfrosted blueberry or strawberry Pop-Tart slathered with butter? I think not.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

I used to be subject to the sugar laden Pop-Tarts for breakfast when i was a kid, before my mom began realizing that we actually needed nutrition to be healthy. And, she had us put fake butter on everything too. Now, I feed my children real food and real butter too. But for a snack, an occasional toasted buttered Pop-Tart wouldn't be so bad but I never noticed any plain nowadays.

Pop-Tart, Fruit Loops Kid

Anonymous said...

amdg,
Your children may read beyond grade level and be highly intelligent, but there are thousands of children who are not. The Wimpy Kid books are of value to them. And, they are read by pre-middle schoolers and enjoyed.

bard

Anonymous said...

Bard,

Regardless of reading level, I don't think there is any value in encouraging our young boys' natural propensity to have potty mouths. These books are filled with bathroom humor, both written and illustrated, disrespect for parents and school teachers, and bullying, all of which I have a hard enough time combating in our boys without it being very much encouraged through the books they read. 

I'm all for giving the kids books they will read and enjoy. We have a reluctant reader, so when he curls up with a book (as he did the Wimpy Kid), the last thing I want to do is discourage him. But content matters at every reading level, and our kids' willingness to devour every page does not justify the anti-virtuous content found in this series.

That 'thousands of children' are growing up reading these books, and that this fact is being celebrated by adults, is further evidence of the decline of our culture spoken of in thetimman's original post.

AMDG