In Today’s Education News

Via Twitter:

First Things has a little piece on the always interesting Camille Paglia – she’s not down with special snowflakes, and thinks kids need to learn some history:

 “‘Presentism’ is a major affliction—an over-absorption in the present or near past, which produces a distortion of perspective and a sky-is-falling Chicken Little hysteria.”

and

[students have not had a] “realistic introduction to the barbarities of human history . . . . Ancient history must be taught . . . . I believe in introducing young people to the disasters of history.”

This only reinforces my bad habit of asking people sympathetic to Marx and Communism if they’ve read or even heard of Gramsci or the Fabian Society. I’ve yet to find one who had even heard of them, let alone was familiar with what they did. (Not hanging out in the faculty lounge these days, I must admit. I’m not entirely sure it would matter.)

And then there’s this, where I back Dr. Paglia by noting that the abundant good times we live in perversely enough seem to get in the way of our recognizing that we live in abundant good times.

Is better education the solution? Can virtue be taught? Whatever else are we supposed to try? A good many saints seemed to have died in something of despair – of this world, not of the next. Still, we’re not allowed to give up – on people, that is. All institutions are as grass, all we think so compelling in this world today withers tomorrow.

And how do we learn this? How teach it?

 

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Science! And Hilarity Ensued

Coincidentally, I was reading about the Permian–Triassic extinction event, where the CO2 level reached something like 2500 ppm, when the news broke that some people on the climate panic side of things were owning up to the reality that the ‘carbon budget’ was not quite so dire, that there’s no way by 2022 the earth will heat up by a total of the 1.5 C that the models predicted . Strangely – or not – this little bit of news, the 2nd item on the Google science news feed when I first saw it this morning, had disappeared entirely from the 20 page 1 science articles by this afternoon.

(Correction: it’s now item #14, but the emphasis has not so subtly changed: the article leading the charge is now We Can Still Reach The Most Optimistic Target of The Paris Climate Deal, Says New Study emphasizing not that the climate models have been wrong for 20+ years, but rather how the new less-panicky conclusions mean that we can still meet the Paris targets! In other words, rather than call the validity of the carbon targets themselves into question, we focus on how the fool’s errand of assuming people can manage world-wide climate now looks more promising, once we acknowledge that carbon dioxide doesn’t affect temperature nearly as much as we thought. The real question: in light of this admission of error new finding, does CO2 within any plausible range over the next century or two actually change anything for the worse? This is not addressed, even though it is surely the question inquiring minds would like to know. )

Wonder why? First off, looking at the bit of the abstract I can find without paying, the devil is in the details I can’t see. Quotes from the scientists involved are not very straight-forward, and are provided by Breitbart, which I gather is a tainted source. Here they are:

Michael Grubb, professor of international energy and climate change at University College London and one of the study’s authors, admitted that his previous prediction had been wrong.

He stated during the climate summit in Paris in December 2015: “All the evidence from the past 15 years leads me to conclude that actually delivering 1.5C is simply incompatible with democracy.”

Speaking to The Times, he said: “When the facts change, I change my mind, as Keynes said.

“It’s still likely to be very difficult to achieve these kind of changes quickly enough but we are in a better place than I thought.”

and

Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at the University of Oxford and another author of the paper, said: “We haven’t seen that rapid acceleration in warming after 2000 that we see in the models. We haven’t seen that in the observations.”

He said that the group of about a dozen computer models, produced by government research institutes and universities around the world, had been assembled a decade ago “so it’s not that surprising that it’s starting to divert a little bit from observations”.

He said that too many of the models used “were on the hot side”, meaning they forecast too much warming.

The reporters comments:

Note the disingenuousness here.

Grubb is claiming that the facts have changed. Which they haven’t. Climate skeptics have been saying for years that the IPCC climate models have been running “too hot.” Indeed, the Global Warming Policy Foundation produced a paper stating this three years ago. Naturally it was ignored by alarmists who have always sought to marginalize the GWPF as a denialist institution which they claim – erroneously – is in the pay of sinister fossil fuel interests.

If the pattern I’ve observed before recurs, the news will reappear once the proper spin has been worked up. (See correction above – they’re getting faster at this!) Or not – kind of hard to spin this, not that I doubt for a moment that it’s being worked on. (I’m wrong again! Spin rules!)

In the Permian die-off, the CO2 levels got very high, but it seems more likely than not that it was an effect, not a significant cause. Things did get hot – seas in the equatorial regions were probably over 100F for many thousands of years. But this was the time the Siberian Traps were forming as well, when a couple million square miles of Siberia were covered by a million cubic miles of lava over a very short time, geologically speaking – which could mess things up, one imagines. Dumping a lot of heat and gas into the air, for one thing.

At any rate, it seems sometimes that people need to be reminded that Star Trek was a fantasy. Socialism doesn’t really work. Oh, and the science was make-believe, too.

Some Links & Thoughts

A. Here is a collection of quotes from writers about their education. Some are better than others.  Here are a couple I like:

“Schools and schoolmasters, as we have them today, are not popular as places of education and teachers, but rather prisons and turnkeys in which children are kept to prevent then disturbing and chaperoning their parents.”  –George Bernard Shaw

 

“Let none say that I am scoffing at uneducated people; it is not their uneducation but their education that I scoff at. Let none mistake this for a sneer at the half-educated; what I dislike is the educated half. But I dislike it, not because I dislike education, but because, given the modern philosophy or absence of philosophy, education is turned against itself, destroying that very sense of variety and proportion which it is the object of education to give. No man who worships education has got the best out of education; no man who sacrifices everything to education is even educated. . . . What is wrong is a neglect of principle; and the principle is that, without a gentle contempt for education, no gentleman’s education is complete.”  –G.K. Chesterson in The Illustrated London News, 1930

 

“You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices. They may like Henry James, but what if you don’t want to write like Henry James? They may like John Irving, for instance, who’s the bore of all time. A lot of the people whose work they’ve taught in the schools for the last thirty years, I can’t understand why people read them and why they are taught. The library, on the other hand, has no biases. The information is all there for you to interpret. You don’t have someone telling you what to think. You discover it for yourself.”  –Ray Bradbury, in an interview with Sam Weller

Bradbury was my favorite writer in grade school and into high school; Chesterton is probably my favorite writer now.

It’s interesting to note that paeans to one-room schools exist in some numbers, as mentioned by Wayne E. Fuller in this book. (1) Country kids often remembered their non-age-segregated, highly personalized and relevant schooling, schooling most often managed by an amatuer over many fewer hours than now, with great fondness. Does anyone in the last, say, 50 years write about how wonderful were his experiences at PS Whatever? Praising a particular teacher or coach, sure, but the experience as a whole? Maybe kids away from the big urban centers?

B. I’m getting a little bit of a jilted lover thing over SciAm’s enthusiastic backing of gender theory, which is somewhat less scientific than phrenology and astrology and much more virulent & harmful. SciAm – I used to love you! Why? WHY? But mostly, I have a sort of bitter admiration of the ability of the anti-science Marxists – but I repeat myself – to take over a venerable magazine with just the right name from a propaganda perspective and turn it so deftly. It’s akin to my dark admiration for Rahm Emanuel, LBJ and J. Edgar Hoover – vile men, all, but remarkably good at what they did and do. What they did and do will most likely end up with them rotting in Hell, but, boy, are they good at it.

The argument fails at every point – is the subject matter amenable to study using the scientific method? No. Or, to put it another way, are the conclusions something that could even in theory be produced using science? No. Handwavium all the way down.

But millions will  be swayed and have their feelings on the subject validated. In a better world, people committing this sort of abuse of the word ‘science’  would be locked up as enemies of the Republic and peace. They are enemies of truth.

C. Quoting William Tory Harris & myself from a few months back, but this just needs to be harped on:

Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.

This wisdom comes from William Torey Harris, the fourth United States Commissioner of Education, from 1889 – 1906. Note the phrase “subsumption of the individual” – Harris was an enthusiastic Hegelian, and subsumption is a term of art.  In a dialectic, the thesis and antithesis contradict each other, and the contradiction is not logically resolved but rather ‘subsumed’ in a dialectical synthesis – they remain in contradiction, but, in the synthesis they exist in a new creative tension that is revealed in concrete History to be true in some greater sense, the law of  noncontradiction be damned (explicitly – see Hegel’s Logic).

In this case, the contradiction to be subsumed is between the idea that people, including children, have rights, among which is the right to pursue happiness however they see fit, and the idea that, in the words of Trotsky, the individual is nothing, only the goal – conforming to the successive unfoldings of the Spirit for Hegelians, the Worker’s Paradise for Marxists – gives any meaning to any individual’s life.

Harris, and all Hegelians and Marxists, needs to have the concept of individual rights eliminated – subsumed, in their usual dishonest and evasive language – in order to achieve the great future History they have been so privileged and enlightened to see. They thank their gods they are not like other men!

And this need to destroy the individual is alive and well TODAY. There was never a reform of the reform, where Harris and his evil ideas were rejected. Woodrow Wilson, an elitist, racist pig if ever there were one,  was down with this, as was Dewey, a ‘can’t make an omelet’ apologist for the slaughters of the Russian Revolution, as were and are all the major gatekeepers to power in the education system. Gender theory is just a flavor of Critical Theory, which is just applied Marxism. As mentioned in an earlier post, Freire’s application of critical theory to education is required reading in all the prestigious schools of education. After the usual fluff, wherein Freire tries to gain our sympathy and tells us how much suffering will be alleviated if only we follow his plan, he gets around to mentioning that, of course, there are no such things as innate human rights, that people who reject and oppose Marxism have by that fact alone no rights, but that people who accept Marxism gain rights in proportion to the degree of their enlightenment. Thus, with perhaps a mitigating tear in our eyes, we can do anything we want deem necessary to our opponents in order to further the revolution – take their stuff goes without saying, but locking them away or murdering them are options completely on the table.

You want to be a teacher today? Chances are you’ll be required to study Freire by enthusiastic acolytes, and it’s a given that you superiors will either actually believe this or, at best, be exactly the kind of useful idiots such a system requires.


The thing missed today is that IT WORKS! We peons are not of the 1%, but are of the 99%! WE are the automata, “careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom”. Sure, many of us have our doubts and even rebel on some level, but it’s pretty depressing to see how much we all – most definitely including me! – fall in line. With alarming frequency, we identify as members of a political party; we don’t talk about things we know we’re not supposed to talk about, and remain silent in the face of things that should call us to arms, at least figuratively. We accept random things as Gospel – both Chesterton and Lewis point out that it’s the assumptions of schooling that we absorb and make foundational more so than anything actively taught.

We send our kids to school.

D. Finally, all this has me thinking of 1984. Two things: Winston Smith is made to say that 2+2=5, not because his torturers believe it, but to make sure he will agree with anything they say. That’s the level of control sought – total control.

Finally, Orwell, though a socialist himself, was not blind: he names the government under Big Brother Ingsol – short for English Socialism. I’ve long thought and said that it’s a tragedy that we paint all Nazis as monsters – sure, plenty of monsters at the top and even among the rank and file. But the vast majority were not materially different, morally, than you and me. But if we somehow absorb the idea that because the person in front of us does not appear to be a monster, he simply cannot be promoting or supporting evil, we become ripe for supporting evil ourselves. A bunch of perfectly nice people – your dentist or college professor was as likely as not a Nazi if you were a German in 1935 – enabled the Holocaust. That’s the real lesson to be learned.

So Orwell makes Big Brother the end game of what he saw among the people – English Socialists – that he most likely knew best! It’s not going to be skinheads or even Antifa that enable the evil – it will be college professors and doctors and (understandably) frustrated Bernie supporters who open the door for growing evil.

Man, I need to take a walk!

  1. The blurb from One-Room Schools of the Middle West: An Illustrated History: “The Midwest’s one-room schools were, Fuller observes, the most democratic in the nation. Located in small, independent school districts, these schools virtually wiped out illiteracy, promoted democratic values, and opened up new vistas beyond the borders of their students’ lives. Entire communities, Fuller shows, revolved around these schools. At various times they were used as churches, polling places, sites of political caucuses, and meeting halls for local organizations. But as America urbanized and the movement to consolidate took hold in rural counties, these little centers of learning were left at the margins of the educational system. Some were torn down, some left to weather away, some sold at auction, and still others transformed into museums. Despite its demise, Fuller argues, here was a school system that worked. His book offers a timely reminder of what schools can accomplish when communities work closely together to educate their children.” Yep.

Science! Puuuuleease! SciAm Done Circling the Drain, Now Exploring Sewer Pipes

I’ve mentioned before, the second subscription I ever got was to Scientific American back in the 1970s, and I used to read pretty much every issue cover to cover for the next 25+ years. Once I got a job that required some travel, always threw it (and SF&F!) into my computer case when I went on business trips, and read it on the plane. So, yea, a big fan.

But it became less and less fun over time. I could understand a certain amount of dumbing down, but – not that dumb. I kinda liked it when the articles were over my head a bit – stretch the mind a little.

Then, sometime in the 90s, read an article on nuclear war that pretty much dispensed with the science entirely, and went straight to advocating for some political policy or other. What? SciAm was my go-to science read – there are plenty of sources to turn to if I felt the need to be politically harangued. 

And it got worse. Finally, maybe 15-20 years ago, I let the subscription lapse. Who needs that nonsense? Since then, SciAm has become the poster-child for putting on the lab coat of Science! in order to promote a particular brand of – let’s just say it = Marxism. I’d generously assume that the useful idiots outnumber the murderous scum actual Marxist, but by now? Who knows?

This springs to mind because it seems SciAm has now gone all in on Gender Theory. Before we start, a recap:

Gender Theory is a branch of Critical Theory.

Critical Theory is Marxism applied in an ‘academic’ setting.

Marxism says science is a tool of oppression in all cases where it can’t be bent to support Marxism. See: Lysenko.

Trofim Lysenko portrait.jpg
Trofim Lysenko. No trace of barely-contained fanaticism in that face, no sir! 

Marxism starts with its conclusion – that all evils are to be understood as caused solely by some oppressor/oppressed dynamic – and backfills with whatever it can find and ignores or excoriates any contrary evidence via an ad hominem/Kafka trap of some kind. This is the practical meaning of the Marxist formulation of dialectic materialism: the contradictions of the thesis and antithesis are suspended but not resolved within the synthesis. The only truly important thing is the synthesis, which is a historical development beyond the reach of mere logic in any meaningful sense. Contradicting the synthesis proves you wrong, no matter how nonsensical and self-serving the conclusion held by Marxists are.

So, under gender theory, the goal is first and foremost to identify an oppressor/oppressed dynamic that will explain everything. Turns out that identifying people as men or women is oppressive, because, um, something something. A man claiming today to be Napoleon is crazy; the same man claiming to be a woman is oppressed. Don’t bring any of that evil patriarchal logical consistency into it.

Then, having discovered such a well-suited stick, you start beating people with it – the BAD people!!!

Anyway, the article at the Federalist does a good job of exposing the nonsense. Check it out if the whole subject isn’t too depressing to consider.

I didn’t think SciAm could sink much lower. I was wrong.

 

Crazy People By the Numbers & Finding Your Guy Fawkes

Quick review:

Current Estimated Population of America:                                    325,000,000

Est. Number & Percent of Sociopaths:                                             3,250,000 – 16,250,000: 1% – 5%

Est. Number & Percent of Schizophrenics:                                    1,125,000: 0.5%

Est. Number & Percent of Americans w/ Bipolar Disorder:        3,325,000 – 9,975,000: 1% – 3%

And so on, through a menagerie of psychiatric disorders. These were just the ones that came to mind first. Not in any way making light of the horrible suffering endured by those afflicted with these disorders and by those who love them. Merely pointing out how common people who have severely crippled grips on reality are. Not to mention the milder but still debilitating forms of delusion, such as socialism and political partisanship.

With this in mind, I was actually a little surprised that only a few hundreds showed up for that demonstration and counter demonstration that I’ve been diligently ignoring. The organizers could not have been trying very hard if what they wanted was a good show of numbers – there’s a large pool of potential participants. If that’s indeed what they wanted.

Guy Fawkes, aka Guido FawkesThe more interesting issue for me has been tracking the efforts of the suicidal narcissists to find, or, if necessary, produce their Guy Fawkes. As long as your opponents keep appearing sane, non-violent and, you know, human, violence against them tends to backfire in the court of public opinion. That’s why any and all opposition is labeled ‘Nazi’. Trouble is, those enemies keep screwing it up by not acting at all like Nazis, and keep pointing out that the inflammatory rhetoric, threats and violence are all coming from the other side.

Thus, the search is on for a useable Guy Fawkes. In a country of 325 million people, millions of whom are certifiably off their rockers, that doesn’t take long.

Keep in mind that, as with the historical Fawkes, the goal here is establish a pretext to silence and eventually get *you*, the calm and rational opposition. Nobody sane objects to locking up dangerous loonies, after all.

The Benighted Rich

Several topics obsessively addressed on this here blog have walked together luminously over the last few days.

“Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.”  ― G.K. ChestertonA Miscellany of Men

I here point out the dominance of the tech industry by obsessive college dropouts, each brilliant in his own very narrow way. While many – Jobs, Gates – are literally drop outs, others – Page, Brin – merely dropped out in spirit, after the fashion described by Chesterton above.

These men, who found fabulous success at ridiculously young ages, did consume enough conventional schooling – Stanford! Harvard! Can’t get any more conventional than that! – to embrace two notions without which much of their current behaviors and attitudes would be nearly incomprehensible: that you, the students, are the best, most well-educated, open-minded and moral people to ever walk the earth, and that the foundational virtue is to be one with the group we assign you to. These poor souls therefore believe both that they are wise, good and open to new ideas and that the tribe they find themselves a part of is, definitionally, the font of all virtue and right thinking. The comfort that comes from establishing themselves among only people who agree with them is only exceeded by the evident panic induced by the vigorously resisted realization that that little group is immersed in an ocean of people who don’t.

If a new idea was so reckless as to wander into their purview, an idea new enough (to them, anyway) to challenge the established, visceral idea feeling dogma that they are on the good team, and that they hold the right beliefs, their lack of meaningful education and their bullet-proof self-esteem has no way to accommodate it.

It is a sign of a cultivated mind that it can entertain an idea without accepting it.        – Aristotle

It is likewise the sign of an uncultivated mind that it cannot entertain an idea it has not already accepted. Modern schooling assiduously lets young minds remain fallow – they are not cultivated, not tilled nor sown nor reaped. The ‘A’ in the SAT stands for ‘achievement’ – in the eyes of the schools, the SAT tests achievement, the specific achievement in view being the ability to do well on the SAT. That’s why there are SAT classes and sample tests, and existential panic over the results.

Actual achievements – fluency in a foreign language, say, or mastery of calculus or welding – don’t get anywhere near the emphasis the SAT does. Given the years and hours dedicated to schooling, often an order of magnitude greater than was typical 100 years ago, one might expect 10 times the actual achievements to be achieved. We should be flooded with multilingual kids who play several instruments, can design and build in many different media, who can manage a business and build relationships and laugh and love. Instead, the pinnacle of achievement is to be the sort of crippled adolescent who, sitting atop a mountain of money, has a good cry with his friends when the wrong candidate wins an election.

And then fires people whose agreement with his positions isn’t sufficiently enthusiastic.

I’ve written on how the vast increases in wealth over the last century allows for the survival of many people whose fundamental beliefs and behaviors would otherwise get them killed. In the past, you could not be detached from all family relationships and expect to get fed and housed; someone who railed against the foundations of society – family, for example – would at best be shunned and, if he kept it up, banished or even killed in an act of societal self-defence.  No responsible father, at least, was going to marry his child off to such a one.

Now, we are ruled to a growing extent by people who believe their suicidal nihilism is sweetness and light itself, that if we only flatten the moral universe enough, we will see that surrender is victory and life is death. Any defense of the virtues of each man’s hearth is a vicious attack on someone who hates that hearth, who hates the idea that a man and a woman might find their deepest human happiness gathered with their parents and children and friends before the fire in their own home.  All ideas that surround and support such a vision of happiness offend, while any that celebrate its destruction are a cause of rejoicing.  That our society was built by men who shared that vision of family specifically to support that vision only means that society must be destroyed.

I take some comfort in the realization that the rich tend to fall fast and hard. When considering how I might speed that process along in my own small way, saw this instant classic of an ad:

So, see? I can still laugh. Think I’ll go sit with my wife and children tonight and watch an old movie.

Wednesday Thoughts

Image result for thinker
Maybe I wouldn’t be so cold if I put some clothes on? There’s a thought!

A. Have we reached peak ‘because I can code, I know everything’ yet?

B. I keep wanting to remind people to stop worrying, because we all died back when Reagan started WWIII – at least according to the same sources who are doing their best to whip up panic at the moment.

C. The idea that Politics is Everything is simple insanity, an idea most beloved by those lacking normal healthy relationships to other people.

D. Isn’t the idea that everyone should have a college education just supply side economics applied to labor? Since white-collar workers tend to have college educations, we will turn everybody into a white collar worker? Or what?

E. In the modern world, it is simple dogma that a thing I do at most once or twice a year  – vote – defines me as a person more than things I do 24/7/365 – acting as dad, husband, friend, employee, church member.  Thus, depriving anyone of the right to vote is about the highest crime imaginable (besides hurting their feelings), while destroying or damaging the relationships wherein a person actually expresses his freedom is collateral damage at best, if it’s even acknowledged. Social issues are discussed not in terms of how they affect the interpersonal environment in which we all severally and together live – family, village, church – but how they may affect exercise of individual rights considered in a purely hypothetical vacuum. The point that individual rights are only meaningfully exercised within our families and among our friends is lost. People don’t usually march their placards up and down the living room, but rather take to the public streets.  No wonder they are eternally frustrated.

F. Can’t even read the news except for That Which Cannot Be Avoided. Anything interesting happening?