Thursday, December 15, 2022

The 231st Birthday of our Bill of Rights is a weird thing to be divided over. Enjoy!

231 years ago today, December 15th, 1791, our states united in ratifying the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America! How weird is it that many of the individual rights protected by these amendments as being essential to living in liberty - freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freeing religion from government interference - are what We The People are most divided over, and by, today? 

We should all pay especially close attention to the preamble that I've put in bold below - IOW: if our Founders didn't trust govt led by the Founding Fathers themselves... why should we trust the bunch we've got in our government(s) today?!

It's a convenient turn of providence that the first two amendments originally proposed, weren't ratified at the time (one of those two was ratified in the 1990's), because the keeping of government out of religion and its practice, and barring it from tampering with the freedom of speech, the press (which, BTW, doesn't exclude you), the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances should be the first set of individual rights protected from abuse by governmental powers (even and especially if the We The People are urging it to 'do something!' about something), followed immediately, as it now is, by the right to keep and bear arms in their defense, as the 1st & 2nd Amendments do. 

If you too would like to see our Bill of Rights enjoy many more birthdays, I strongly suggest that you click the links below, and read some of what was in our Founder's minds, when they proposed, debated, and ratified them.

Proposed Amendments and Ratification
1789 Elliot 1:338--40

Congress of the United States;
Begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday, the 4th of March, 1789.

The conventions of a number of the states having, at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added; and as extending the ground of public confidence in the government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;--

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the legislatures of the several states, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all or any of which articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said legislatures, to be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, namely,--

Articles in Addition to, and Amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the Fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Art. I. [Not Ratified] After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than one hundred representatives, nor less than one representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred representatives, nor more than one representative for every fifty thousand.

Art. II. [Not ratified... for two centuries, now the 27th amendment] No law varying the compensation for services of the senators and representatives shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.

Art. III.[1st] Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Art. IV [2nd]. A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Art. V [3rd]. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner prescribed by law.

Art. VI [4th]. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon principal cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Art. VII [5th]. No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual service, in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject, for the same offence, to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

Art. VIII [6th]. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right of a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law; and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence.

Art. IX [7th]. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reëxamined, in any court of the United States, than according to the rules in common law.

Art. X [8th]. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Art. XI [9th]. The enumeration, in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Art. XII [10th]. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states, respectively, or to the people.

Speaker of the House of Representatives.
JOHN ADAMS, Vice-President of the United States,

and President of the Senate. 
Attest. John Beckley
Clerk of the House of Representatives.
Samuel A. Otis, Secretary of the Senate.
Which, being transmitted to the several state legislatures, were decided upon by them, according to the following returns:--

By the State of New Hampshire.--Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the 2d article.
By the State of New York.--Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the 2d article.
By the State of Pennsylvania.--Agreed to the 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th articles of the said amendments.
By the State of Delaware.--Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the 1st article.
By the State of Maryland.--Agreed to the whole of the said twelve amendments.
By the State of South Carolina.--Agreed to the whole said twelve amendments.
By the State of North Carolina.--Agreed to the whole of the said twelve amendments.
By the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.--Agreed to the whole of the said twelve articles.
By the State of New Jersey.--Agreed to the whole of the said amendments, except the second article.
By the State of Virginia.--Agreed to the whole of the said twelve articles.
No returns were made by the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia, and Kentucky.

The amendments thus proposed became a part of the Constitution, the first and second of them excepted, which were not ratified by a sufficient number of the state legislatures.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 5, Bill of Rights, Document 12
The University of Chicago Press
Elliot, Jonathan, ed. The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia in 1787. . . . 5 vols. 2d ed. 1888. Reprint. New York: Burt Franklin, n.d.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Help to keep the 7th of December in the past - Remember Pearl Harbor Day, today

Remember to remember, that while we're preoccupied with our current concerns of the day, the worst of our yesterdays - such as that of 81 years ago today - can suddenly consume our present, especially when it's least expected, which is always: Today.

Remember that December 7th, 1941 dawned as just another morning, when a world of change suddenly came upon the world from out of a clear blue sky.

Sometimes you need a bit of perspective... today, the 7th of December, is a fine day to get it. Don't just recall, which we all so routinely do, but mentally, spiritually, put them back together - Re-member, remember, or you may be doomed to repeat history again after all.

Remember that days like the 7th of December can bring with them a very different sort of crisis, than the sort of thing which our media calls a crisis, today, and every other day. A real clash of cultures rang out eighty-one years ago today, that truly should live in infamy - but it can do so only if we remember to re-member that it was a day that saw two thousand four hundred and three people slaughtered, and which led us into four years of war and the loss of millions of lives worldwide.

Remember that the smoke that rose over our ships December 7th, 1941, led to the smoke over Hiroshima and Nagasaki four horrifically bloody years later, as well as the age of nuclear war that hangs over our heads still today.

Remember that things can become infinitely worse than they are right now, in an instant.

Remember that on December 7th, 1941, in the midst of negotiations to preserve peace, those we negotiated with, attacked us. Remember that sometimes negotiations for peace are simply preparations for war.

Remember and re[member, the 7th of December, for if history becomes only about the past, it will lose all of its meaning, and your children will have to learn its lessons anew.

Remember also that those who serve in our military are always at risk of having the ultimate price demanded of them - and they have agreed up front to pay it for you.

Remember that at Pearl Harbor 81 years ago, Americans were reminded that the freedom to be on the left or right, is not free.

Remember to honor them, and to honor that which you share with them, the liberty and freedom of being an American.

These are lessons to learn, and to remember.

Remember... because it matters that you do.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all

For all my friends and family who understand the importance of talking to each other, and discussing all matters about family and friends, and religion and politics and nutrition, and who know how to disagree reasonably without becoming disagreeable - I give thanks that you are in our lives!
  • I am thankful for the ability to make an error.
  • I am thankful for the desire to correct it.
  • I am thankful for living in a Nation founded upon the understanding that all Men must be free to do both, in body and soul.
The Western world didn't catch on because of its answers... those are still being argued about more than 3,000 years on... but because of its people being willing and able to ask the right questions, with the willingness and desire to compare their answers to reality, and to pursue the questions which those answers will lead to. 

Some questions that will give you so many reasons to be thankful, are:
  • What is real and how do we know it?
  • What is Good? Why should we care?
  • How can we recognize what is not Good?
  • What is a Good life?
  • What is Happiness?
  • Should what is Right and Wrong, guide our actions?
  • What is Beauty?...What is Truth?...What is Justice?
  • What does it benefit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his soul?
Ask the right questions, with those who are willing to question their own answers, and let the Good Lord and reality do the rest.

Question - not doubt, mind you, but question, what you assume to be true, and then what you know, and give thanks for the life you are blessed to build upon that, for it will surely be one that's well worth giving thanks for.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Stuff your pardons, eat the damn turkey, and give thanks for it!

I long for the day when we might have a president again who will look upon such a fine bird and say
"That's a fine looking turkey, thank you"
, promptly wring its neck, and send it to the kitchen to be cooked.

Presidents since JFK, Reagan too, have been 'freeing' the turkey, and since Bush 41, officially pardoning the damn bird... just... WTH?!

Pardon me, but stuff your pardons, eat the damn bird, and give thanks for the opportunity to do so!



Friday, November 11, 2022

For Our Veterans on Veterans Day - Thank You For Persisting 'The Harder Right', Across Time

Commemorating Veterans Day once again, on the “11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month”, with two earlier memories; one from seven years ago now, which was itself remembering this day from 5 years before that, and doing so recalls what persists across time on this day, our fellows who choose 'the harder right' by volunteering to serve in our military. No matter where they may end up being stationed, when they volunteer to serve, they are volunteering to put their lives on the line, period. There is no assurance that they won't at some point be sent to physically put their lives at risk, be injured, or be killed. None. Whether their service ends up being given entirely stateside in administrative duties, or repeatedly at hazard in war zones, the worst case is risked by all at that moment when they sign their lives on the dotted line. In pledging their lives to support and defend our Constitution, they serve to secure to us the ability to live lives worth living (should we choose to).

To all of our Veterans - Thank You.

[And now, back to 2015:]
For Veterans Day this year, I'm going with a re-post from four years ago, which isn't - for me or others - the typical Veterans Day post, but for me it really goes to the heart of the occasion. This post came back into mind a couple days ago when a 'Memories' app popped up some pictures from the 2011 Veterans Day parade in St. Louis that I took part in with Chris & Dana Loesch, "Patch" Po/ed Patriot and our kids [Patch just confirmed my sketchy pictureless memory, Stacy Washington was with us too). The memories were a nice tug - I mostly only see Patch online now, and the Loesch's have since moved to Dallas (catch "Dana" on the BlazeTV), but more than the sentimental value, was the point of this post, well-illustrated in the movie clip, of the importance of choosing the Harder Right - not only in the sense of putting your life on the line for it, but the importance of choosing the harder right to a life worth living, and that is what I associate most with our Veterans.

Our Veterans volunteer their lives onto the line, and in pledging their lives to support and defend our Constitution, they serve to secure to us the ability to live a life worth living, should we also take the harder right, and choose to.

To our Veterans - Thank You.

[And now, back to 2011:]
For Veterans Day, a clip that doesn't at first appear to have anything to do with Veterans or Veterans Day. It's the climactic scene of a movie that's really grown on me over the years, The Emperor's Club. In this, the point of not only an Education, but of a life well lived - or squandered - is conveyed in just a few moments.

The now aging Mr. Hundert, a Classics Professor, is found in the restroom after a debate competition, by his former student, Sedgewick Bell, who is now grown and launching a campaign for the Senate. Bell was a student he'd tried far more than he should have to help, and Hundert has realized that Sedgewick has yet again cheated in the "Mr. Julius Caesar" debate, which Mr. Hundert was moderating.

He lets his former student know that he knows he tried to cheat, again...
Mr. Hundert:"I'm a teacher Sedgwick, and I failed you. But I'll give you one last lecture, if I may. All of us, at some point, are forced to look at ourselves in the mirror, and see who we really are, and when that day comes for Sedgewick, you'll be confronted with a life lived without virtue, without principle - for that I pity you. End of lesson."

Sedgewick Bell:"What can I say Mr. Hundert? Who gives a shit. Honestly, who out there gives a shit about your principles and your virtues. I mean, look at you, what do you have to show for yourself? I live in the real world, where people do what they need to do to get what they want, and if that means lying, and cheating... then so be it.
So I am going to go out there, and I am going to win that election Mr. Hundert, and you will see me EVERYwhere! And I'll worry about my 'contribution' later.
(Sound of a toilet flushing, stall opens, Sedgewick's little boy comes out, stares at his dad in disgust)
Sedgewick Bell:"Robert? Robert...."
(Robert turns and leaves)
Sedgewick stares after him, stares down, glances at Mr. Hundert, and leaves.
What Mr. Hundert has, he has without need of power, position or wealth... what Cedric threw away, he can't replace through any amount of power, position or wealth.

The best things in life are free... but you've got to earn them, and sometimes fight for them; and some worthy few even choose to risk their lives for your chance to enjoy them.

Thank you to all those who chose the harder right, and especially the Veterans who agreed to risk their lives for it, if need be.

UPDATE - Pictures from the St. Louis Veterans Day Parade
Special thanks to Dana Loesh for inviting us to march with her crew in the parade, my daughter & I were honored to show our support.

Dana Loesh (in a strep throat burqa), Me, Patch Adams and Chris Loesch , ready to roll

... coming around the corner... (pic swiped from Patch Adams)
Parading past Soldiers Memorial
The best message of all!

Patch posted a video that should be an alarming shame in contrasts to all. For those who did turn out for the parade yesterday, thank you, your quality isn't questioned, but for the quantities of others who couldn't be bothered, shame on you.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

The Real Red Wave

Without wasting more time on the yet to be 'decided' races, the nature of the candidates, or their supporters, the fact that these supposedly deeply divided elections are coming down to mere percentage points of differences, indicates that the real battle is less at the ballot (or mail) box, than the classroom.

More to the point: Our political battles are rooted between the ears of every American, in the soil of what they understand that 'being an American' means. If the tree of liberty that should grow there is not healthy, then you can be sure that a very real red wave is coming, and in more ways than one.

And if you think that battle can be won politically, you'd best be prepared to be swept away.

If you really want to 'do something!' to help, spend some time considering what 'We hold these truths to be self-evident' actually means, and how 'We The People' are to live under a Rule of Law that respects and reflects that - and most importantly, find others to consider and discuss that with.

Our Foundational Documents aren't magic talismans folks, they are the expression of a particular set of ideas, and if we forget their meaning, nothing built upon them can possibly remain standing.

Way it is.

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Educational talk in Washington MO

If you're in the Washington MO area this weekend, I've been invited by We The People of Franklin County to speak on SEL, Common Core, and how our educational system got to this point.

Come on out this Sunday Nov. 6th, from 5:00-7:15 p.m., for a good discussion, dinner, and a raffle - if you're in the area, I hope to see you there!

Moe's Restaurant
499 Grand Ave, Washington, MO

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

How important is how you know what you know, to what you know?

Here's an odd question: Do you think that knowledge is relevant to Education? Odder still, how you answer that question puts you on one side or the other of a wide Grand Canyon-like divide in epistemology. Epistemology being:
"...the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity."
And if you hadn't noticed that there was a divide, allow me to point out that if you think that 'Knowledge' indicates something that can be objectively known to be real and true, that puts you on the traditional side of that divide, and then way, way, over on the other side of that divide - where your schools are - are claims such as this:
"...Given that the transmission of knowledge is an integral activity in schools, critical scholars in the field of education have been especially concerned with how knowledge is produced. These scholars argue that a key element of social injustice involves the claim that particular knowledge is objective and universal. An approach based on critical theory calls into question the idea that “objectivity” is desirable, or even possible..." Sensoy, Ozlem, and Robin DiAngelo. Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education, first edition. Teacher’s College Press: New York, 2012, p. 5, then 7
SoOooo... the Woke believe that 'Knowledge' matters, that it matters how it's 'produced', and that it is unjust to teach that knowledge has an objective meaning (a meaning that is objectively true for you, true for me, and true for anyone else, no matter their feelings or prejudices) to your kids, in our schools.

The Epistemological Drama
Do you think that that matters? To put the matter in a more familiar context, here's a statement that depends upon a traditional epistemology:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"
, and here's a very different claim that depends upon a very different epistemology than that of our Founders:
"We support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion"
These two examples represent two entirely different epistemologies, and they are entirely incompatible with each other - each is a refutation of the other - don't you think that you should understand whether either of those statements are true, or false, and how to justify one or the other?

If you know nothing about epistemology - yours or theirs - how are you going to argue the point?

Note: The question is not 'should you use an epistemology?', but rather 'Are you aware of the epistemology that you are using?!' You are using a form of epistemology in evaluating what is 'claimed to be known', and in justifying what you think is worth knowing, but if you aren't at least somewhat familiar with the uses and misuses of how such matters are justified and verified, then your thinking will be muddled, and the other side will roll over your 'b...b...buh..but!'s like a tank.

What does it mean to say that something is justifiable? Ironically, even asking the question means assuming the existence of the same objective truth that the Woke despise, but handily enough for them, denying it also 'frees' them from any such logical concerns, yet it doesn't do away with the fact that the traditional view is not only what our nation was founded upon, but is the True North which our ideas of Education were once rooted in and oriented around. And neither position frees you from the responsibility of consciously considering whether or not "... that particular knowledge is objective and universal...", and whether or not understanding that it's true "... is desirable, or even possible..." - and evaluating how to understand and affirm or deny those questions, is what epistemology does.

The fact is that epistemology sets the tone for every claim - sensible or nonsensical - in our culture, politics, law, and the education of those who go into each of those fields. Sound epistemology is critical to being able to identify and orient towards True North, and unsound epistemology is what we all use to justify wandering off of the straight & narrow, whether that be the sloppiness of slightly astray, or the deliberate thumb in the eye of a 180* turn in the opposite direction.

Speaking of which, as we like to look back on the 1940s and 1950s as being fairly solidly patriotic decades in America, have you ever wondered how it was possible that John Dewey's people were able to send an official invitation to the members of the Marxist Frankfurt School, to come to America and set up shop at Columbia University (more on that invitation in coming posts)? Do you suppose that their cool German accents charmed everyone and got them a free pass? Or... was it that those at the heart of our school systems who were exceedingly familiar with the meanings and justifications of epistemology, even then, understood and welcomed such a radically incompatible set of Marxists into America, knowing that their intention was to undermine and subvert the ideals that America was derived from, and confident that they could get away with doing so?

And yet most Americans, and certainly most students, were unable to recognize what those beliefs meant to their own lives, and to the lives of their children, and grandchildren, and because they didn't recognize the threat, and wouldn't have been able to defend their beliefs against them if they had, we are in the position we are in today where it's not only Academic America that is rabidly and openly anti-American in their beliefs and actions.

If we don't learn to recognize and defend the ideas of those truths that we hold to be self-evident, from the supporters of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion who mean to eradicate them, what effect do you suppose that will have upon your children, and grandchildren, and nation tomorrow?

The fact is that the values and rules of behavior that a society develops, are based upon what they're able to agree upon as being right and wrong, and for that to be possible, they first need to be able to say that something is (which is Metaphysics), and from there we must give consideration to how we know what does and does not qualify as knowledge of it and how to verify it (Epistemology), because only then can anyone have anything meaningful to say about what is right & wrong to do in light of what is known to be true (which is Ethics).

When arguing with someone (which does not mean either fighting or debating) who disagrees with you, you're engaging in a process of reasoning with them by identifying what each of you see from your varying perspectives, and then comparing your initial mental sketches to what you both can see of the actual landscape, and that often involves (and requires) congenially directing and shifting your vantage points this way & that to see things from the other person's point of view so as to compare and find what landmarks you can agree upon - or the lack of them -between your wordscapes and the actual landscape that you both inhabit. Progress in an honest argument isn't marked by a win or a loss, but by finding that your sketches have revealed something clearer - whether that be a mere glimpse or full scenic view - of what can be agreed upon between you, and better understood about each other, and verified, as being real and true, and that is employing and practicing the epistemological process that was implicit in the traditional reasoning that our Founder's era was familiar with.

Under that traditional view, notions typical of its adversary in Social Epistemology, such as 'what's true for you, may not be true for me', would be dismissed out of hand as being unserious and potentially dangerous sentiments that undermines and outright attacks our ability to reason together towards some mutual understanding. It's not looking for an honest (meaning what?) argument, even as it demands the results of one with your agreement (or compliance) without its cause: having reasoned towards a mutual understanding of what is real and true. What they want to avoid at all costs, is an honest argument. Statements such as that are not a call for truce, but a passive/aggressive attempt to verbally overpower your moral objections to their position, which gives them a foothold in your own mind, from your having implicitly legitimized their falsehoods by accepting them as possibly *true* (meaning what?), when in fact what is real and true, are obstacles to the wordscapes they expect you to either accept, tolerate, or submit to. When you nod along with such statements, you're missing the fact that whatever you had thought was important to adhere to, has been reduced to their level as a now meaningless *truth*, as you've surrendered the epistemological battle you didn't even realize you were fighting.

Solzhenitsyn's call to 'Live not by lies' is truly meaningless, if you cannot recognize or defend what is and is not true.

Prior to modernity, the process which epistemology now refers to wasn't seen as being so distinct, intricate, or confusing enough, to warrant being designated as a distinct field of study, as other than a handful of outright cynics and skeptics which most reasonable people generally dismissed out of hand, the fundamentals of philosophy - metaphysics, logic, ethics - already covered what could be known and how we could know it, as naturally followed from Aristotle's first rule of thought, from his metaphysics, essentially that:
a thing cannot both be, and not be, at the same time and in the same context.
, the ability to give reasonable consideration, and the ability to apply the logical method, follows from understanding that, and through that understanding, a person can be expected to reliably come to know the nature of what they do and do not know, and to understand how they know it, which forms an informal epistemology of how 'you know what you know', and the ability to logically verify it. As a result of attempting to deny that first rule of thought, we now have not only a field called 'Epistemology', and something called 'epistemic adequacy' (that you know that 'it is what it is'), but wildly divergent systems of epistemology which accept and justify 'concepts' that are in conflict with that first rule of thought, and any thought which follows from it. That is of course still the basis of a valid epistemology, and any claim that denies, or attempts to spin that statement, is invalid and an unjustifiable epistemology, as are those ideals and ideologies that are built upon them. And yes, if you know that, and know that their claims are based upon invalid epistemologies, all you need to do is expose that, and their game of ideological Jenga comes tumbling down.

A good first step in that direction: 'What do you mean by 'True'?

We tend to marvel at people not being reasonable today, but anyone who fails to engage in reasoning without anchoring their effort in the reality below their thinking, and with truth as the star above that guides it, cannot reasonably be expected to maintain even the appearances of being reasonable for long. Without a regard for what is real and true, the need to find mutual understanding and a connection to what is true, all 'arguments' and statements must devolve into either conveniences of mutual admiration, or confrontations which can only be 'resolved' through some contest of power, whether that be by tallying up the quantities of 'likes' and 'dislikes' for it, or by physical force or the threat of it, and as Thrasymachus put such notions of 'Might makes Right' to Socrates:
'...I proclaim that justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger'.
Reason without truth is ideology, its aim is power, and its means are the politics of force, which require that the laws of right reason be transformed into arbitrary rules to be obeyed without question, or else. We'll begin taking a deeper dive into what this is, and isn't, and how your ability to know can be undermined, in the next post.

Monday, October 31, 2022

The Power of Ignorance: 'Back to Basics' Reform

As Americans hurried into the opening of the 20th Century, most did not notice that the old ideas which ever fewer Americans were still being educated well enough in to understand, were being left ever further behind with each new reform, and with each new graduating class. In defense of the students' parents, keep in mind that the 'norms' of today - grades, graded tests, textbooks, standardized tests - these were still new ideas to most people of the time, and they were dazzled by the claims that the 'new!' and 'better!' ideas of 'progressive education', would be able to more 'scientifically' measure & guide their student's progress and ensure them a better life. As noted in earlier posts in this series, there were those who did see what was happening, people like Charles Dudley Warner, Alfred Jay Knock, and Irving Babbitt too, and many others who fought long & hard against the tide, but they were mostly dismissed as being 'old fashioned', especially by those who were busily congratulating themselves for being 'pragmatic!' and modern.

As the reform pattern of 'reform, endorse, excuse and reform again' was busily churning out one new 'plan' after another over the course of the 19th Century and into the 20th - from the Boston Public School Plan, on up to the St. Louis plan, the Cincinatti plan, etc., - individual complaints about their graduates' level of knowledge and competence, would periodically garner an uncomfortable amount of negative public attention. When that happened a little something extra was needed to reassure the public that their schools would 'get back to basics!', and justify doubling down with still larger reform efforts. During one of those peak periods of complaints, the NEA approached Harvard's longest serving president in 1892, the education reformer Charles W. Eliot, to head up a task force of scholars for their recommendations on how best to go about 'fixing secondary education'.

Sidebar: If that 'old and outmoded' thing seems to make some sense to you, keep these points in mind:
1) our Founders Era was closer in time by several decades to the Progressive Era, than the Progressive Era is to us today,
2) the Hi-Tech of the pre-manned-flight age (the Wright Brothers 1st flight was in 1903, Dewey & Co began making this idiotic 'argument' in the 1890s) being the telegraph & mechanical processes of the Industrial Age, would have been far less mysterious to any of our Founders, than the internet, and digital Tech, and commercial space flight of our day would be to someone like Dewey
3) So given that these 'progressive' ideas are older and more outmoded to us, than the Founders were to them, how do you justify treating such 'old and outmoded' ideas as Dewey's, as having any credibility today?
It's an argument without an argument, and you should distance yourself from it
The 'Committee of Ten', as it came to be called, dutifully convened, and deliberated, and studied, sent many letters back and forth over the need for more centralizing of power (some of that captured here), as well as trivializing traditional literature into factually identifiable trivia which he promised would strengthen 'traditional scholarship', while also raising the profile of the new methods (elective classes, textbooks, testing, etc.), which, echoing the rhetoric of Pro-Regressives such as Teddy Roosevelt & Woodrow Wilson, was just the sort of thing that helped folks to feel very modern in comparison to our bewigged Founding Fathers of 'a century ago!'. The report they returned, was full of what once would've been considered an insult to any self-respecting school teacher, that "...The principal end of all education is training....". He added several other such efficient observations, as:
"...As studies in language and in the natural sciences are best adapted to cultivate the habits of observation; as mathematics are the traditional training of the reasoning faculties; so history and its allied branches are better adapted than any other studies to promote the invaluable mental power which we call judgment..."
, and so on. As comparatively good as that passage might sound to us today, a closer look reveals how far the shift away from True North had already gone - notice that the statement doesn't mention anything about truth or understanding; instead, it aligns more with the belief that 'knowledge is power', which was Thomas 'life is nasty, brutish and short' Hobbes' summary of the views of his master, Sir Francis Bacon. Interestingly, Elliott was the one who first promoted the pre-cursor of a 'Great Books Program', with his famous 'five foot shelf of books', but his purpose in both was not to promote or revive the traditional understanding that 'knowledge serves understanding and deepens virtue and wisdom', but that 'knowledge is power' in everything from being useful cocktail party banter, to technical knowhow, to acquiring rhetorically 'useful things to know', which came to be seen as the uses of 'The Classics', views which would later be easily made to serve postmodern & critical studies attacks upon them as 'meaningless knowledge' - not because Elliott would have agreed with the post-modernists, but because the absence of truth & virtue that he promoted, reinforced the vacuum that would become most useful to them.

As far as the NEA was concerned at that point though (Samuel Blumenfeld's book 'NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education' is an eye-opener (available online here)), what the Committee of Ten had proposed was old news which they'd already normalized, and what they wanted was not more of the same 'our new methods help promote traditional scholarship', but something much more 'New! Progressive!'. And so, as with our periodic 'rediscovery' that Phonics works better than 'look-and-say' which prompts new studies that divert public attention and are soon forgotten, the NEA first promoted the Elliot Commission's recommendations, then let them fade from memory with no action taken. In just a few years though, in that fateful year of 1913, they organized yet another new effort in the 'Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education', a.k.a. The Gang of Twenty-seven. The new commission no longer felt the need to bother too much with the stodgy 'traditional scholarship'  of scholars like Charles W. Eliot, who still pretended to value education in the old sense, and instead loaded itself up with mostly educational bureaucrats who were after 'progress!', at all costs. Emphasizing their break with the past, as The Gang of Twenty-seven looked upon 'The Committee of Ten', and, in Richard Mitchell's words in The Graves of Academe, they had:
"... found that proposal an elitist's dream. They concluded, in other words, that precious few schoolchildren were capable of the pursuit of knowledge and the exercise of the mind in the cause of judgment. That, of course, turned out to be the most momentous self-fulfilling prophecy of our century. It is also a splendid example of the muddled thought out of which established educational practice derives its theories. The proposals of the Eliot report are deemed elitist because they presume that most schoolchildren are generally capable of the mastery of subject matter and intellectual skill; the proposals of the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education, on the other hand, are ``democratic'' in presuming that most schoolchildren are not capable of such things and should stick to homemaking and the manual arts...." [BTW, if you noticed how that last line sounds a lot like Equity in action, good for you, 2 points to Hufflepuff]
, and so rather than fussing on about 'rigorous training of the mind in college', their final report, issued in 1918 as 'Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education', Mitchell observed:
"... It rejected the elitist and undemocratic education of the dark past and provided in its place ``preparation for effective living..."
, where 'effective living' meant keeping your mind free of 'elitist' notions of 'inalienable truths', 'individual rights', and those stuffy 'old & outmoded' works of literature that might put such notions in your head, so that 'we' could focus instead on more useful skills to 'get a good job!', and helped to usher in ever more 'useful classes' to further edge out those paths to an actual education which still remained (such as Latin and Logic which were still common classes at the opening of the 20th Century), while expanding the power of those who know best, to keep those who don't, comfortably ignorant. Doing so also ushered in important new "...objectives of education...", which began with... Health.

When they say the silent part out loud - listen
Funny how the 'progressives' always had an inkling that 'health' would help in building a royal road to power. Elwood P. Cubberley, again, was a leader in proposing schools to wield 'Health' with official authority in the community,
"...The work of health supervision in our schools is as yet, generally speaking, only in its beginnings, but that the service will be very materially extended in the future seems practically certain. The argument that it invades the rights of the home is on a par with the arguments against compulsory school attendance and prescribed courses of study. A generation ago compulsory school attendance was regarded as a meddlesome interference with the rights of parents to do with their children as they saw fit, and a million illiterate adults among us today stand as a witness to the value of such a theory..."
, which prepared the foundational assumptions that would prepare the way for SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) being written into federal law in the 1990s.
Today's 'norms', are old 'Progressive' reforms 
Fellows like Elwood P. Cubberley are among the forgotten founders of our modern educational system who should not be forgotten - not of course because their efforts were good, but because of how consequentially bad those changes they'd fostered were, and still are... and have become what today are taken as 'norms' (see 'Battle for the American Mind'). Cubberley did much to help fuse the 'German Method' with the new Pragmatic American Method, by establishing the model plan for school superintendents, the consolidating of school districts, and laying out the policies required for their following the industrial school design. As I've mentioned often, it was Cubberley who boasted out loud back in 1909(!), what was and has too often been left silent & deadly, that:
“Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.”
That is the education reformer's primary goal, and we wouldn't be so surprised by it today if we'd pay closer attention to what reformers - from Rousseau, to Marx, to Dewey, to today's gender bending mutilators - have been reforming us towards along, as when Horace Mann said as much sixty some years earlier in 1848, in his 'Lectures on education', that:
"...We, then, who are engaged in the sacred cause of education, are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages to our cause;..."
Neither should we be surprised to learn that additional health based powers are beginning to be realized through our schools by way of 'Trauma-Informed SEL'. As described by leading SEL survey data-miner Panorama Ed, and as implemented in Washington State K-12 (I highly recommend listening to New Discourses Bullets: 'Systemic Trauma and Harm'), it began with promoting the idea that 'microaggressions' can be considered a form of violence, perhaps even warranting educators to facilitate government intervention, or, saying the quiet part out loud: Helping the child to come to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent. .

The reformers of education have always fervently believed that their 'good intentions' are just the ends they need to justify whatever means they deem as being necessary 'for the greater good' as they see it. And though they occasionally do say the silent part out loud, there's another aspect of their purposes that we've been deafened to, and that needs to be stated as loudly as possible today, that these reformers who delight in the child coming to belong more and more to the state, are people who increasingly have no fondness or desire for anyone reasoning well in a state of liberty, preferring instead to instill in their students a zeal for 'organized social action' under the auspices of the state - same goal, different path.

“[The] erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.” — H.L. MENCKEN, The American Mercury, 1924
The wise person who desires the liberty of living a good life in society with others, is who traditional education's methods of learning grammar and studying literature through identifying plot, theme, etc., were designed to benefit. But, as seen in the previous post, valuing liberty and the individual choices that lead to a life worth living, are what Dewey & Co. saw, and his successors today still see, as being 'anti-social', and so they used our educational systems to progressively eliminate the thinking and behavior that concerned itself with liberty and individual rights, by developing an Americanized form of Fichte's scientific method for preventing 'too much thinking'.

The purpose of the educational system reforms which began to be developed here in the early 1800s, was (and is) to prevent, or at least reduce, occasions of 'wrong think' (AKA: consideration of timeless truths) in students' lives in and after graduating from school. Doing so required 'installing' the 'answer that killed the question' into student's thinking through uninteresting materials and tests which students would find answers to that were satisfying enough that they wouldn't feel the need to give such matters further consideration for themselves. To do that required reversing what had been our school's primary task of introducing students to that literature which led them past easy answers and into questioning their way out of those caves of ignorance that are otherwise too easily imposed upon us, and instead it became priority #1 of the schools to gradually, progressively, sideline all vestiges of Homer, The Bible, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Virgil, Cicero, Dante, Milton, Shakespeare, etc., as being 'elitist', boring, and useless to 'the greater good', while quietly removing them from the curriculum and the school library (what remains in yours?), while simultaneously promoting counter-literate schemes such as the 'Look-And-Say' method of reading, which lamed their students' ability to read such literature in a thoughtful manner on their own (detailed in the previous post).

Accordingly, the curriculums that schools replaced the jewels of Western Civilization with, were an uninteresting assemblage of issues, key facts, names and dates, presented in the mediocre and stultifying language of textbooks written by committees of experts, whose pre-chewed answers and 'right responses' are what are installed by training students to memorize them for answers to tests, rather than bothering to come to their own conclusions about them. Answers and attitudes that are reinforced through successive quizzes, tests, and standardized testing ranging from the local varieties, to the state, and national level, with ACTs & SATs of today. Elwood P. Cubberley, again, was one of the founders and earliest promotors of national Standardized Testing, and I assure you, he did so with the conviction that it would serve his and the State's purposes for your child coming to belong more to the state, than to their parents.

The reformers were and are very much aware that the 'Straight A!' students which their educational system seeks to produce are not what our 'anti-social' Founders would've regarded as being educated, neither would Albert Jay Knock's visiting Italian nobleman (who'd asked why he'd met no educated Americans, who were educated after 1895). Of those most successful in our schools today, it is becoming expected that the
"... “Valedictorians aren’t likely to be the future’s visionaries . . . they typically settle into the system instead of shaking it up.”..."
, as the grades and test scores of 'Straight A!' students, SAT/ACT stars, and Valedictorians, incline them towards 'organized social-action' by being the most malleable and conformist to those 'key facts' required for benefitting 'the greater good'. Our 'best and brightest' are smoothly enter into the approved ranks of power and influence, unlikely to rise too high within them, while efficiently continuing to promote the organized social actions of those who know best.

In just three generational steps away from our Founding Reformers in Webster & Dr. Rush, their good intentions of 'Go to school, get good grades to get a good job!', had enabled first Horace Mann, then Dr. Elliot, then John Dewey & Cubberley, to implement enough 'practical' changes that our schools key lessons teach us to forego wisdom and truth for apparent utility, which led to the mistaking of information for understanding, data for principles, quantity for quality, and to mistake the recalling of other people's answers, as being the same as understanding the questions which they were answers to, so as to persist whatever seemed most useful upon society for 'the greater good'.

Those three generations of reformers took us from being the people that Jefferson presumed to be so familiar with Aristotle, Cicero, and other classics that the Declaration of Independence needed only to evoke the '...harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right...' for them to recognize what the gathering threat that tyranny poses to the liberty they valued, into being a people for whom it had become common to speak of 'Educators' as being the active hand of 'democratic government' in every home and association in your community (see Dewey's 'Democracy and Education' which was adored in the early USSR), and in that context, the knowledge, content, and individuality which the original Founding Reformers had intended their reforms to strengthen, were summarily dismissed by the new reformers, using the very means - education - that our Founders had trusted their preservation to. Dewey expressed that sentiment with:
"...Each generation is inclined to educate its young so as to get along in the present world instead of with a view to the proper end of education: the promotion of the best possible realization of humanity as humanity. Parents educate their children so that they may get on; princes educate their subjects as instruments of their own purposes..."
The new reformers - and whether they're Progressive, Socialist, Marxist, Crony-Capitalists of the Left and Right, are distinctions without a meaningful difference here, which is why I use Pro-Regressive for short - saw 'We The People' as creatures in need of their expertise, and used lowly parents & powerful princes desire for their kids to 'succeed' and be useful, as a means for experts such as themselves to shape 'We The People's lives to fit within their vision for them. Reason and history both show that only inhumanity can follow from that, but that's something which pragmatic materialists who deride principles and truth, are unlikely and unwilling to grasp.

Similar ideals and interests drove what Woodrow Wilson was promoting when still president of Princeton University in 1909, when he told the Federation of High School Teachers, that critical to the purpose of teaching:
"...We want one class of persons to have a liberal education and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks..."
My Troll and I both agree that that speech should be read carefully, but where we disagree, is in taking his words at face value. He'd like you to go no further than the seemingly sensible, even conservative sounding lines, whereas I think you should refuse to sever those phrases from their roots in his wider views and writings, and if you pay attention to how the oft repeated theme of 'we want' pervades this speech and his wider writings, you'll begin to notice what it is that those who view themselves as being 'those who know best', desired (for you, who don't know enough). They have always intended to decide who to staff the nation with, because, as Wilson repeatedly points out in his speeches and books, the 'people' cannot be trusted to decide what to do with their own lives (and people thinking of their 'own lives', is something that he, and Dewey, and the rest, viewed as being 'anti-social' by nature), but lucky for us he knew that they were just the right people to 'help' determine who of us should go where, do what, and how and when they might permit our doing it, 'for the greater good' they had in mind for us.

In classic reformer manner, the 'innovative' classes of 'Home Economics', 'Shop Class', 'Automotive', which they'd added into the course schedules in the early 1900s, in order to force out still more of the 'useless' classes in literature, history, and Latin, from the schools' schedules, until decades later those same classes, which were at least of some practical reality based utility in themselves, have themselves been forced from the course schedules in favor of more activist oriented classes on 'life skills', or STEM offerings to raise test scores, which has not only contributed to the current crop of illiterate social justice warriors that we're contending with today, but to a backlash of calls for 'back to basics!' with Home Ec. and Shop Classes, which is but the rinse & repeat of the school reform cycle.

Neither should it be surprising that our Founding Reformer's paths of good intentions have led to such a very different destination than they'd intended, for knowingly or not they attempted to reverse cause & effect, and so introduced the pursuit of power where the love of wisdom should have been. The logical progression of effects to those causes led directly to the point where someone like James E. Russell (another weasel extraordinaire), when as head of Columbia University Teachers College, used his 1905 address, "The Trend in American Education", to tout the European, and particularly the Prussian and German methods of public education, as he fretted about what might result in our 'Social Democracy' from 'the wrong' sort of students being 'led out' (educare, educate, 'to lead out') of the cave (where he thought they belonged), and into the ability to know their own minds and make their own choices (*gasp* - what if they 'choose wrong!?') and interfere with the ordered society which he, they, were using education to create amongst us. Pay attention:
"...How can a nation endure that deliberately seeks to rouse ambitions and aspirations in the oncoming generations which in the nature of events cannot possibly be fulfilled? If the chief object of government be to promote civil order and social stability, how can we justify our practice in schooling the masses in precisely the same manner as we do those who are to be our leaders?..."
Again, as with Wilson's speech, if you read past the sensible sounding distractions and pay attention to what the sum of it must mean in practice, you'll find that they - Wilson, Russell, Dewey, along with the many more once famous names & plans of Lester Ward, Cubberley, and on back to Fichte before them - although they're mostly forgotten now, it is still their ideas that are aiding their successors today in determining who should be permitted to have hopes & dreams, and what they should and should not be. The sum of those 'fogotten ideas' are actively orienting us towards a very different star than the 'True North' of what is right and true which America was founded upon and through, orienting us away from liberty, and towards that sulphureous destination of good intentions which is incompatible with the ideals that American society, our Constitution, and the Rule of Law, depend upon, and cannot continue for long without.

Knowledge, Power, and Corruption
You've probably heard the famous phrase:
"...Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely..."
Where that phrase comes from, is a letter that the historian Lord Acton wrote to his friend Bishop Mandell Creighton, who was the editor of the English Historical Review, and its warning against the corrupting nature of power wasn't confined to only those who'd amassed political power. The reason for the letter that Acton wrote, was to criticize how Creighton had treated the abuses & crimes of popes & kings less harshly than those of other men, and Acton was adamantly opposed to his doing so. The passage the phrase comes from, is:
"...Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it..."
While Acton explicitly referred to the corruption of popes and kings through using the power & influence of their office for improper ends, he was also implicitly warning the Bishop against using the power & influence of his own office as editor, to affect the judgement of the readers of the English Historical Review - not so much because its readers might be getting historic facts wrong, but because what Creighton found pleasing to impart to his readers was historically irresponsible (as Knowledge, with some of its truth deliberately removed, always is) and could negatively influence their present and future thoughts and actions by presenting that misrepresentation as a valid lesson of history, and that lesson of history is one that is still very applicable to our day.

There are plenty of political figures today who deserve to be condemned for abusing their power and influence, but we should be at least as much if not more concerned with how our mostly anonymous academic men with pens are abusing their power and influence by deliberately omitting or altering the content and context of our school's textbooks & lessons, as they've done in everything from the 1619 Project, to the malicious stocking of school libraries bookshelves, to the mind altering lessons of social & emotional 'competencies' and math that doesn't add up, in order to ideologically influence how students will think and behave when living their lives out in the real world.

These 'education professionals' who wield a power of influence that's no longer limited by either a regard for what is true, or the preferences of the community they supposedly represent, have cast off western civilization's history & literature so as to fill our schools' textbooks & lessons with only those 'key facts' that they've deemed to be worthy of being known, while making degrees and diplomas subject to testing that shows how well their narrative has been ingested, in a process that corrupts not only themselves (absolutely), but also their hapless students, and our society at large. Doubtless it's the most clever and attentive of our students that are most at risk of becoming corrupted in how they go about their thinking - how many of those who listened to their parent's advice to 'study hard in school to get a good job!', are the ones today who condemn those speaking out about our schools' hostility to freedom of speech and hyper-focus on race & sex, as being the actions of violent and terroristic extremists, while excusing and even promoting the physical violence of their likeminded fellows when rioting in the streets, as being a protected form of 'speech' which everyone else must be forced to accept and endure?

We need to look past the headline making distractions of lies and crudities that are present in our schools and their libraries, and give greater consideration to why those lies and crudities are there - and what isn't there because they are. Ignorance of Western Civilizations' means of thinking upon and being guided by timeless truths, is the logical and intended outcome of an 'education' that does not educate - the issue is less about what they are being exposed to, than what they are not, and why.

What purpose does education serve? Unless we correct our answer to that 'Why', nothing will meaningfully change, because it cannot. Unfortunately, the relationship between the 'what', the 'how', and the 'why', is usually lost on us today, Left & Right, as can be seen in most peoples' enthusiastic 'thumbs up👍!' to a phrase often attributed to John Dewey (his actually went further & was much worse), or Margaret Mead, but regardless of who first said it, it's made it into common wizdumb:
'Schools should teach children not what to think but how to think!'
, not noticing that what a student is taught, is a means to teaching the student how to think - and both 'what' and 'how' are chosen to serve a purpose, and unless the correct 'why' is also supplied, we'll only fool ourselves into thinking that the problems of our educational system have actually been 'fixed', and as we congratulate ourselves and return our attention to other matters, that guiding purpose will quickly reassert itself and new 'what's and 'how's will begin being taught in service to it, as it has, over and over and over again, over the course of over two hundred years of 'education reform!'. You might think the folly of that would have been demonstrated to us by now, but that is the power of ignorance - not simply error, but the absence of understanding - and that power too, corrupts absolutely.

No matter how pragmatically sensible that "...teach not what to think but how to think..." might appear ("...Memorization of facts is pointless in a world where everyone carries around the entire knowledge base of the human species on their person..."), the activist pro-regressive agenda is installed into students' minds by making a muddle of how they think; crude and pornographic materials are made available to underage kids in order to affect how they think; and the fewer accurate facts and clear principles that they are given to think with, the more easily manipulated by unsound and emotionally targeted propaganda, they will become - our schools are focusing on how to think, and that's a big part of the problem!

The 'why' that's structured behind that 'how', is what we'll begin taking a closer look at in the next post.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Experimentally reading ourselves into illiteracy

“...They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect
that no one will need to be good.
But the man that is will shadow
The man that pretends to be...

T.S. Eliot, The Rock
While walking through the problematic nature of Pragmatism's focus on 'what works' rather than on what is true (and right to do) in the previous post, I mentioned Samuel Blumenfeld's 1985 Hillsdale College address 'Who Killed Excellence', which goes into the educational disaster that followed when a co-founder and leading exponent of Pragmatism, John Dewey, became the leading voice in education reform. Dewey didn't kill it alone of course, and even though much of this took place a century ago, we need to pay attention to who else was involved and what they did, because their 'work' is so deeply embedded into the foundations of not only our schools, but through them into all of our society today, that attempting to fix the outrageous policies we see on the surface, inevitably results in new and more vicious weeds sprouting back up in its place, as CRT & SEL soon followed our attempts to remove Common Core, and as Common Core soon followed earlier attempts to remove Outcome Based Education before that, and so on, and so on, on back to their day, a century and more ago.

That issue of 'fixing it just makes matters worse' is a feature that's built into the nature of the 'school reform' cycle; to escape that cycle we need to pull the whole process out by its roots, but we can't do that, if we aren't able to identify those roots for what they are, and wherever they are. You'll soon see what I mean by that, as we take a closer look at a few of the other key names that Blumenfeld raised in his address, as having played a significant role in 'killing excellence' in education, those being Edward Thorndike, James McKeen Cattell, and Wilhelm Wundt, the last of whom was the father of experimental psychology in Leipzig Germany. Wundt was a radical materialist, a proponent of the 'scientific'/deterministic view which sees human beings as being little more than animated meat-sacks, and he held that the scientific expert's duty was to conduct experiments that prodded those meat-sacks through the trial and error of stimulus-response, so as to discover more efficient and useful behaviors which they could be made to perform, for the benefit of society.

For at least the first half of the 1800s, it'd been popular amongst American intellectuals to 'take the European tour' which centered on the new German universities (see this post), James McKeen Cattell did that, then studied for a couple years in Germany, and returned again to become not only one of Wundt's star pupils, but his first assistant.

Experimenting with Literacy
During that time he'd taken an interest in some recent fads in learning words by memorizing their appearance rather than by reading their letters, and so he began conducting experiments in the field of reading - not with what to read, mind you, or why to read it, but with how it was that accomplished readers read - typically by recognizing the whole word, rather than sounding it out - to see if new readers could be trained to read in the same way. The fact that even experienced readers do sound out unfamiliar words, did not concern him, nor that they are able to gain an understanding of a new word's meaning through its prefixes, suffixes, etc., as well as the grammatical structures which authors use to convey their meaning through the words they use. Cattell wasn't seeking a new way of learning to read because there was any evidence that reading phonetically limited a person's ability to read and understand what they read, far from it. But if new readers could be trained to 'read' words by sight and shape without having to 'waste time' on learning to understand the phonetic basis of the letters which words are formed from, and the nature and rules and logic of reading - such a 'thoughtless' approach to reading would greatly advance Cattell's materialist ideals (which included Eugenics), and not surprisingly he found that his experiments 'proved' his expectation that students could be trained to guess a word from its shape and contextual clues alone, faster, more efficiently, and was therefore 'better' than 'old fashioned' phonics & grammar.

On the basis of those intentions and experiments, the initial 'scientific' reading method of 'Look-And-Say' (or 'Whole Word') was developed, which would quickly be proclaimed as being a more modern and efficient method for learning to read from, than that 'old fashioned' phonics (a 'flat-earth view', as a later 'expert' would put it).

As it turns out, this 'new!' scientific method for teaching students to read, wasn't actually effective in teaching students to read - which was something they knew fully well, as Blumenfeld notes:
"...What is astounding is that by 1908 Cattell and his colleagues were very well aware that the look-say method produced inaccurate readers. In fact, Huey argued in favor of inaccuracy as a virtue!..."
, but that didn't dissuade Cattell or his fellows from continuing to promote the 'Look-And-Say' method, and as Blumenfeld mentions, his colleague Huey, and many others, even viewed those readers difficulties as a plus! At the very least, this should give you a huge clue that the education, and system for delivering one which they were fashioning, was not pursuing - in either results or purpose - what most people still assume it is (Blumenfeld's book (available online) 'Trojan Horse in American Education' has a great deal more information on that).

Not to read but to follow
These 'educators' weren't concerned that a student might not understand and learn how to read with 'Look-And-Say', because having a student understand what they were reading was not their goal, training them to follow instructions, was - remember Fichte - what excited them was that if 'most people' could be trained into attaining a functional (il)literacy of understanding those words that were most useful for following instructions with, then that would serve their educational and societal purposes just fine (the most useful 220 words for that would become known as 'The Dolch List', which, by the way, nearly all schools still use today).

It was with those same purposes in mind that Cattell, who became head of Columbia's Dept of Psychology in 1890, and was involved in its Teachers College, had helped to recruit one of the co-founders of Pragmatism, John Dewey, away from the University of Chicago's Teachers College in 1905, to help spread their new views of education through the flagship Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City, and while how to teach students to become literate was a focus of theirs, having students actually become literate was not, as Dewey wrote in 1898:
"The plea for the predominance of learning to read in early school-life because of the great importance attaching to literature seems to me a perversion."
, which was a perspective that went well with his view of Knowledge, which was that unless it served 'social utility', it was a problematic waste of time. As he explained it:
"...The mere absorption of facts and truths is so exclusively individual an affair that it tends very naturally to pass into selfishness. There is no obvious social motive for the acquirement of mere learning, there is no clear social gain in success thereat...."
, meaning that they saw no social gain in having knowledgeable individuals, and our schools systems have been fashioned accordingly.

Follow the Social Science
The new, 'modern!' view of education that they were spreading did not see the schools' primary purpose as being to develop the student so as to be a benefit to their own lives; the modern, pragmatic, 'progressive' pro-regressive purpose of school, as designed, is to pragmatically develop students to take socially useful actions in society - they are in short: 'following the social science', or as Dewey put it in his "My Pedagogic Creed":
"I believe that education is a regulation of the process of coming to share in the social consciousness; and that the adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness is the only sure method of social reconstruction."[BTW, if you don't see the foundations of 'SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) in that, you need some new philosophical lenses)]
Helping them to implement that process, was a student of Cattell's at Columbia, Edward Thorndike, who was also a former student of Wilhelm Wundt's, as well as a former star pupil of another of the co-founders of Pragmatism, William James. Reflecting those same shared views, Thorndike further developed them into 'teaching strategies' which aimed at the same new purposes of education (conforming to the group, over individual learning), an approach that's clear in what Blumenfeld quotes of him here:
"Thorndike wrote: “The best way with children may often be, in the pompous words of an animal trainer, ‘to arrange everything in connection with the trick so that the animal will be compelled by the laws of its own nature to perform it.'”
, and in his 'Elementary Principles of Education (1906)' Thorndike applied that approach to dismissing those subjects traditionally taught as the 3R's,
"...Despite rapid progress in the right direction, the program of the average elementary school is too narrow and academic in character. Traditionally the elementary school has been primarily devoted to teaching the fundamental subjects, the three R's, and closely related disciplines. In representative schools to-day, more than half of the time is spent on reading, writing, spelling, and other language arts and arithmetic. These subjects are taught, moreover, in a too restricted and formal fashion. Artificial exercises, like drills on phonetics, multiplication tables, and formal writing movements, are used to a wasteful degree. Subjects such as arithmetic, language, and history include content that is intrinsically of little value. Nearly every subject is enlarged unwisely to satisfy the academic ideal of thoroughness. ..."
, and together through their flagship Teachers College, they exerted their influence over the lesser Teachers Colleges across the nation (greatly aided by most states having passed progressive legislation requiring teachers to graduate from them, in order to be certified to teach), injecting their new 'progressive!' methods of reading and thinking into each new generation of teachers and through them, the new 'key facts' focus of the modern and scientific-ish method of 'progressive education' spread out across the nation (with additional help from a few millionaires like Rockefeller's "...General Education Board (GEB), in encouraging vocationalism in education..."). As Blumenfeld notes in his address, concerning Dewey, Thorndike, and Cattell:
"...By 1908 the trio had produced three books of paramount importance to the progressive movement. Thorndike published Animal Intelligence in 1898; Dewey published School and Society in 1899; and in 1908 Cattell produced, through a surrogate by the name of Edmund Burke Huey, The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading.

Dewey provided the social philosophy of the movement, Thorndike the teaching theories and techniques, and Cattell the organizing energy. There was among all of them, disciples and colleagues, a missionary zeal to rebuild American education on a foundation of science, evolution, humanism, and behaviorism. But it was Dewey who identified high literacy as the culprit in traditional education, the sustaining force behind individualism. He wrote in 1898:
My proposition is, that conditions—social, industrial, and intellectual—have undergone such a radical change, that the time has come for a thoroughgoing examination of the emphasis put upon linguistic work in elementary instruction….
The plea for the predominance of learning to read in early school-life because of the great importance attaching to literature seems to me a perversion."
[emphasis mine]
Surprising? Really?...!
If you're at all shocked to learn that your educational leaders would promote a 'scientific!' method for learning to read, that not only wasn't effective at training students to read, but was actually harmful to their doing so, it's because you still think of education's purpose as being for the benefit of the child, and you're assuming that those running our schools think so too, but they were and still are using education as a means of accomplishing what they believe is for 'the greater good', that being putting society under the power of experts. There is no reason to be surprised that the 'thinkers' of education reform would promote methods that would ruin their students ability to read, that's long been their stated goal! The fact is that we have been continually, repeatedly, 'discovering' that the 'scientific' reading method of 'Look-And-Say' (and all of its related versions) doesn't actually work, and yet over a century later it's still being used today. How do we dare claim to be surprised by this?

C'mon man! Rudolf Flesch's 'Why Johnny Can’t Read' came out in the 1950s, and 'Why Johnny Still Can’t Read' came out in the 1980s! In Chp. 3 of that, Flesch notes:
"...When I wrote my book Why Johnny Can't Read in 1955, I [29] listed eleven studies that had been done up to that time. All of them gave results in favor of phonics-first; not a single one favored look-and-say. The scientific proof was complete and overwhelming..."[emphasis mine]
Even recently, just a few years ago, NPR (again) noticed that the 'scientific' method of reading had been scientifically shown to be making our student lab rats functionally illiterate:
"...And yet, "this ill-conceived contextual guessing approach to word recognition is enshrined in materials and handbooks used by teachers," wrote Louisa Moats, a prominent reading expert, in a 2017 article...."
Cattell's role in devising 'Look-And-Say' should earn him the right to justly be called the father of Illiteracy and dyslexia (a title he should share with his colleague Huey, who, as Blumenfeld notes, seems to have done most of 'the work'), but it hasn't, and it says a lot about our schools and the educational reforms that they fostered, that it hasn't. What should make that even more, is that if you do a quick search today (one of the 1st links to pop up for me on typing 'kindergarten' into my browser), you'll find far more hits for current programs that are teaching your kids to learn to read with the 'whole word' 'Look-And-Say' method that was designed with illiteracy in mind (and although most pepper their programs with the word 'phonics', few do so with any seriousness).

If you want to ask yourself why that is, first ask yourself, what happens when parents and community leaders become aware of their child's lack of reading skills. They demand that schools 'do something!' about falling grades, right? There are at least two things to notice in their response to that problem:
  1. They aren't asking why their students are unable to read and benefit from what is right and true - what they want is for their schools "to 'make it work' so that their students will get good grades and get a good job!" Well... surprise - that response is 100% Pragmatic Progressivism - so why the surprise when we get more of what we asked for?
  2. As those parents and community leaders demand more effort be made to teach students how to read, the administrators reply that 'Well, if you can get us the budget (maybe pass a funding measure, larger libraries, etc.,) then we can ramp up reading programs...' and... you guessed it... the reading programs they provide to boost literacy, are the very same programs and 'strategies', that destroyed literacy in America.
Are you starting to see the problem here? If you aren't aware of the forgotten names and aims of those who reformed our educational system, then you cannot escape from being caught up in their webs, and even help in spreading them, because being ignorant of them blinds you to their dangers and ensures that you're own efforts to do what you think is right, will actually bring about more of what was designed to undermine and eliminate everything that you think of as being right. See your local 'Reading is Fundamental!' school library for reference.

What they mean by educating your children, is harming your children
Remember that in Pragmatism, 'truth' is nothing more than what works, and it can only be determined at the end of the process being worked out. What that means in practice, is that failure and 'falsehood' are not indications that the process is headed in the wrong direction, but only that it has not yet reached the expected completion. Take another look at the previous post for what mainstreaming that notion into popular thinking, has done to the world, let alone to education. Remember the 20th Century's pragmatic philosopher Richard Rorty's comment mentioned in that post, that "...To know your desires is to know the criterion of truth..." and that “...the truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with...”, coupled with Dewey's own view that 'there is no clear social gain' in turning your students into knowledgeable individuals, what more could be expected, than what we have today?

For the pragmatic progressives, turning the process of reading into a burdensome effort for students that leaves them mostly illiterate, was always a feature, never a bug, in the process of developing their goal for social unity. Illiteracy is a pragmatic value in pursuing what they see as being the purpose of school, and what works is 'true', right? As long as we let them get away with making our children into less than knowledgeable individuals, they will continue using our schools to do exactly that, for our own good, of course.

The Progressives (rightly) believed that the ability to read, coupled with a thirst for quality literature, produces intelligent individuals who value living in society with their fellows in liberty, which is what Cattell, Dewey, and Thorndike, recognized as being threats to the progressive revolution they were instigating to replace our society with, often complaining that:
"The last stand of oligarchical and anti-social seclusion is perpetuation of this purely individualistic notion of intelligence."
They fully understood what they were doing, and what their purpose for doing it was, and they very deliberately designed the nature of our modern educational system so that it would be mistaken for an institution that was doing what parents would assume it would - to better their children's lives, while all the while it was deliberately eradicating every aspect of the knowledge and understanding - philosophically, socially, and morally - that is required for that.

Modern education is intended to be political, not educational (C3 Social Studies bible has grade level expectations for social activism beginning in kindergarden, noted here), and their political aims are not compatible with the principles that America was developed from, they very seriously believed that liberty is anti-social, a point Dewey makes clear in his derisive rehearsing of Lockean ideas of individual rights in 'Liberalism and Social Action':
"...The whole temper of this philosophy is individualistic in the sense in which individualism is opposed to organized social action. It held to the primacy of the individual over the state not only in time but in moral authority. It defined the individual in terms of liberties of thought and action already possessed by him in some mysterious ready-made fashion, and which it was the sole business of the state to safeguard. Reason was also made an inherent endowment of the individual, expressed in men’s moral relations to one another, but not sustained and developed because of these relations. It followed that the great enemy of individual liberty was thought to be government because of its tendency to encroach upon the innate liberties of individuals. Later liberalism inherited this conception of a natural antagonism between the individual and organized society. There still lingers in the minds of some the notion that there are two different “spheres” of action and of rightful claims; that of political society and that of the individual, and that in the interest of the latter the former must be as contracted as possible...."
Of course those inalienable truths which he is mocking and deriding in that passage, individualism and liberty, are the ideas they wanted (and want) to leave behind and have be forgotten, so as to eliminate them from society. They desire that, because he, they, pragmatically, have an entirely different view of what 'individualism' is and should be, rejecting the 'idea' that an individual person can be thought of as an individual person - in their view an 'individual' is only a part of the societal matrix. From Dewey's 'Individualism old and new':
"...When the patterns that form individuality of thought and desire are in line with actuating social forces, that individuality will be released for creative effort..."
, meaning that it's only when the 'individual' is reflecting what the group believes (got any 'project learning' activities going on in your schools?), that they can become 'one' with, or an individual aspect of, the collective, and only then do they have a useful value in taking those actions which the experts have deemed necessary and worthy. In the pragmatic view the individual can only experience 'liberty' once they've merged into the expectations and realities of their collective society, as he ends his book with,
"...To gain an integrated individuality, each of us needs to cultivate his own garden. But there is no fence about this garden: it is no sharply marked- off enclosure. Our garden is the world, in the angle at which it touches our own manner of being. By accepting the corporate and industrial world in which we live, and by thus fulfilling the precondition for interaction with it, we, who are also parts of the moving present, create ourselves as we create an unknown future."
, or IOW you are only 'you' as a result of them, or 'Students of the world unite!'. That is what the reformers mean by reform. And whereas the True North that guided the founding of America was that liberty led to deeper and more meaningful societies filled with a wealth of social interactions, what Dewey meant by 'organized social action' was actions that followed & abided by the collective plans of experts such as himself. America's orientation towards True North is what Dewey was expressly opposed to, and the old promise for an education and the benefits - knowledge, virtue, wisdom - to be expected from one, ran and still runs contrary to their every pro-regressive ideal, which is why they were so deliberately replacing every aspect of the old True North understanding of Education, because those maps wouldn't lead to where they intend us all to travel to.

Lessons not yet learned, which we very much need to learn
The truth is that illiteracy is a feature in progressive education, not a bug, as people who no longer can read, or who dislike reading, or read only to retrieve what experts have deemed to be 'key facts' or useful 'informational text', are unlikely to have any regard for, or use for, those self-evident truths and inalienable rights that America was founded upon, and which our Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian civilization values and depends upon. And that is the educational direction that the maps of Dewey & Co. have been leading us by.

However good their intentions initially were, what we are dealing with today, is the logical progression of events that were sure to follow from the initial reforms begun by our Founding Reformers. While it may not have been obvious that the changes they initiated would lead to where we are, they started the process rolling downhill when they unwittingly reformed the purpose of education, from that of benefiting the student, to benefiting society, and from gaining wisdom, to being useful. And catastrophically, they did this at the same time that Philosophy was being transformed by Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Marx, Peirce, James, and Dewey, from the love of wisdom, to being how smart people can change the world for 'the greater good'. From those two very different pursuits,
  • Wisdom respects, values, and acts upon what is timelessly true.
  • Pragmatism values what has the power to further the experts immediate interests - that defines something as 'being true.
, two very different views of people, and of society, must follow. Our schools today are deliberately less educational, than informational, and the innovations that were introduced into it over the 19th century, were less concerned with any one student's education, than with the political process that their educations could be used towards. That outlook was carefully tended to over the course of the 1800s, until it exploded into the 20th Century with the creation and expansion of school districts, and the consolidating of them into ever larger systems, adding new superintendents and ever more staff to more efficiently manage them as a means of producing a 'new man' within the 'old fashioned' constitutional system which America was founded upon.

Dewey's admirer and educational Field Marshal, Elwood P. Cubberley, described their vision for public schools, in his 'Public School Administration' (1916) as being:
“...Our schools are, in a sense, factories in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life. The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of twentieth-century civilization, and it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down...”
, and the leading products which rolled off of that production line, were designed to be ever more illiterate students, to help in slowly, progressively, transforming our society into something it is deliberately not; a process which was solidified by Horace Mann, and radically perfected by John Dewey, and which made it possible for, and still sustains, the radical Marxist programs (SEL, CRT, DEI) of today. That is our system of education in America. What 'school reform' do you suppose can 'fix' that problem when most of your neighbors are sending their kids to school to study hard and get a good job? If you think that School Choice will, you need to re-read the two-step scenario I sketched out above. Choosing your own poison, doesn't make it any less poisonous.

What you can do about this today, is to get involved in your schools and school boards to slow down the harm that they are doing through your political representation and tax dollars, but first and foremost, get your kids out of the establishment minded schools, and just as importantly, make sure that the alternative form of education you choose for them is truly educational.

Our educational system has been reformed to inject a stimulus of illiteracy into our society (not jsut the inability to read, but the lack of interest in doing so), and the only logical response (outcome) to be expected from that, is ignorance. It seems to me that you have to fight pretty hard to avoid coming to the conclusion that the reason for doing so, is that an ignorant populace is especially useful to those who attain power over them, which is what we'll begin looking at next.