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It's Official: Left-Islamist Alliance Against the West The Lesson of New Orleans

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Filling the Education Vacuum

by Christopher Chantrill
August 28, 2005 at 9:17 am


HERE WE are at back-to-school time, and all across the nation colleges are prodding our children into freshman orientation. Today, of course, that means catechizing the young into the religion of “anti-racism.” And instead of inducting our kids into the cult of Americanism, they humiliate them into the “cult of multiculturalism,” according to college senior Kevin Carter.

Humiliation? Isn’t that what they do at army boot camp and white-boy fraternity rushes? But humiliation is now at the center of modern freshman orientation. Kevin Carter’s began with a video on the Matthew Shephard killing and then a “lecture from a supposed expert on ‘hate.’” After a ritual humiliation of the white guys in the audience, it was back to the dorm “to break up into focus groups so that we could have a ‘dialogue’ on how to fight “‘hate.’” The freshman orientation turned out to be a bonding experience, but not in the way that the powers-that-be had intended. After it was over the white guys got together and angrily exchanged “offensive” jokes using “insensitive” language all night.

So the liberals are doing a good job at turning off white guys. Maybe that explains why boys don’t do well in high school, and are heading down towards 40 percent of the college student body.

But when our young boys are not moldering away in the bums-on-seats prison of liberal-run schooling they are putting enormous energy into their first-person shooter video games and into racing up the multiple learning curves of today’s networked world. Of course they are also wasting enormous amounts of time in internet chat rooms in the eternal search for “hot” babes. (Reckless prediction: they are building a subculture that will rival the baby boomers’ Sixties culture).

Why exactly do we condemn our children to all those years of bums-on-seats government education? Can’t we think of something better for our children to do? We used to. Back in the nineteenth century most children went to school for four or five years. Then they went to work. They had to, because their families needed the money. Anthony Drexel went to work as a clerk in his father’s ramshackle bank at age twelve. As an adult he taught rich-kid J. P. Morgan the banking business as senior partner in the firm of Drexel and Morgan.

Today, we don’t need the money. And because we can’t think of anything better for our children to do, we let them goof off in government warehouses for most of their childhood.

What exactly is education for? Back in the nineteenth century the elite wanted a top-down universal education to teach morals to the lower orders and lower the crime rate. Meanwhile the people built a bottom-up education in the three Rs to get their children out of the mill and the mine. Today the elite wants to grab our children and teach them to hate the Four Horsemen of the Modern Apocalypse: Racism, Sexism, Classism, and Homophobia. We, the people of the twenty-first century, dislike the elite’s program, but not enough to put a stop to it.

Why are we pumping more and more money into a K-12 education system that delivers less and less? Why are we ratcheting up the subsidies for universities every year when most kids major in drink and sex—or “extracurriculars” according to recent Harvard grad Ross Douthat in The Atlantic? We do it because we don’t have a better idea.

It’s time for conservatives to fill up the educational vacuum. But let us rise above a shameful program of “reducing crime” or “anti-racism” that is really a mask for imposing our values on the rest of the nation. We are better than that. Let our program just be this. We don’t know how other parents ought to educate their children; that’s their business. But we demand, as an ancient and immemorial liberty, the right to educate our own children according to our lights.

What should our lights, our educational philosophy, be? We could start with the sensible ideas of mystery novelist (and Oxford educated) Dorothy L. Sayers in Education in a Free Society, ed. Anne Husted Burleigh. Brilliantly anglicizing advanced continental developmental child psychology into three Ages, “the Poll-Parrot, the Pert, and the Poetic,” she proposes a return to the medieval Trivium. The first stage, Grammar, matches the child’s Poll-Parrot Age when memorization is easy and pleasurable. The second stage is Dialectics and matches the child’s Pert Age, “characterized by contradicting, answering back, liking to ‘catch people out.’” The final stage is Rhetoric and matches the Poetic Age, striving for independence, creativity, and finding a m├ętier.

It would certainly be an improvement over today’s program of “anti-racism” and multiculturalism that seems to be arrested, like the left-wing blogosphere, in the adolescent Pert Age.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity

Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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