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Sunday, April 26, 2009

RE: Another perspective on Susan Boyle and true education.


Nonetheless, he (“Spengler” or Goldman) says some truths about industrial Britain, particularly Scotland, though perhaps he tenda to be pessimistic. He seems not to know mainstream America. He also has a prejudice that ‘educated immigrants’ are necessarily better than ‘uneducated immigrants’.

Of course none of my grandparents could read or write English and had almost no formal education whatsoever and yet they made a very positive contribution to America. We were once undesirable too. Mere cannon fodder for Pommie Officers on a hundred foreign fields Our women mere drudges and servants for rich English women and Yankees. But I may add, never their whores.

Goldman recently wrote and article in FIRST THINGS about the demographic collapse of the West. Japan is moving into shutdown and China? Has a surplus of 32 million males youth age1-5 .

Nonetheless, people who aren’t educators or who are Ivy League snobs think that in education 2+2 always equals 4. This is not so.. Critics often have a hard time believing Shakespeare with his mediocre provincial education of little Latin and less Greek (as far as we know he read what classics he did read in translation such as Plutarch and Vergil) actually wrote his plays and composed his sonnets. After all Shakespeare was just a semi-educator actor! That’s why they believe such nonsense that some other nobleman wrote his works or even Francis Bacon who was after all university trained and a lawyer.

Those who believe that the forces and results in individual cases and in the cases of regiments or nation are ALWAYS CALCULABLE are, I think wrong. There is always the ineffable, the unexpected, the mysterious.

I was not a distinguished soldier by any means in my lifetime but it was my pleasure to know many distinguished soldiers and Marines personally. Some were more articulate than others and others were reticent But I learned from all of these men. I learned that there is something in a Highland soldier or Marine which makes them great fighters, and disciplined soldiers who are almost entirely reliable and loyal to the death. And that thing is not authority or fear of authority. It is not merely training. That thing is not having the best weapons . It is this sense this almost physical sense that you are as it were One Body. Christians call this spirit the Body of Christ. Highland soldiers called it the Thin Red Line. Each man knows he is a ‘bearer of tradition’ and this inculcates a pride and positive group indentify based not on some ephemeral thing but on history, glory if you will, honor, if you will, and the joie de vive of the camaraderie of the present AND the PAST and the FUTURE.

The French –cleverer in their way than the Germans- call it Esprit d’ Corps.

Many minorities be they Blacks, Hmong or Latinos –especially fatherless males- often display an uncertain self-identity and a fragile morale which collapse amidst negative peer pressure and distractions. Low value public schools are ineffective in this sort of situation. But curiously, the Marines, for example, are able to turn young boys like that into men of honor who would not swear in front of women or children and who ALWAYS SALUTE and stand at attention for the superior officers.

It should be no surprise that the number one epithet of disdain is “school boy”. It is the moral equivalent of (I beg your pardon) , “fag”, “Uncle Tom or “Sissy”(there are Spanish equivalents). Given a choice most young boys, unsure of their masculinity prefer cussing to civility and defiance to obedience and dropping out to “school boy” achievement. And they do not fear this life. They have never known hunger –there is always the welfare state –subsidized housing and free food to be had. What they don’t get for free they will steal by force. Why?

Because at least then –with their negative identity and false pride- they feel like men in a world dominated, in their view by catty women and wimp effeminate flabby males, who let’s be blunt, disgust them.

The WWF , playboy athletes, hip-hop rap artists and movie stars excite them. They may be tawdry, wife-beating Don Juans, tasteless foul-mouthed crooks and cheats but THEY ARE MEN. (not I quickly add men of honor but we have to be honest and recognized the exaltation of wild maleness).

Highlanders speak of mire-catha –the ancient blood lust, the battle frenzy and of course know that this is perhaps an atavistic instinct to fight, to kill and utterly destroy the prey, the enemy or die. And enjoy it. It is good that war is so terrible a wise man once said or we would learn to enjoy it too much. That was spoken by an experienced combat soldier and commander. And those who are men of faith speak with shame because they enjoyed it. Killing –like stealing- can be thrilling. I have spoken with many soldiers and Marines. They treat killing with great respect and caution because they know it can become a habit, an addiction. The man of honor, the true Marine only kills in the line of duty and does not boast of it. They know it is a sin and they know they are marked with the mark of Cain. But they gave their oath and have a job to do so they do it in a manly way and carry their burden inside.

Most Americans have no idea how much danger they are in. The day this massive cohort of lumpen proletarians finds a purpose –perhaps fundamentalist Islam perhaps Marxist Leninism the USA could , as foreseen in the new Russian novel THE LAST MASS OF NOTRE DAME, just fall apart in a orgy of crime, killing, murders, rape, arson and violence. In the end there would be nothing left but a few lost golf balls.

In the Marines they learn that gentlemen and Marines DO NOT USE profanity or threatening language in front of children, women and girls, elder people or in public situations or job interviews. They learn to be punctual and respectful. In the Marines they get discipline and the kind of self esteem that only comes from REAL ACHIEVEMENT and a POSTIVE GROUP INDENTITY. And I might add they get the philia love of camaraderie and if they are lucky will find a good woman. It is no surprise to me that many Marines marry women Marines or Navy –they have the same ethos- or foreign women at a rate much higher than that of average Americans.

I have heard it over and over that today many American women are too bossy, too coarse, too unfeminine and too demanding and do not appreciate a good man. I have heard that they do not make good wives. My own son expressed the same feelings –he dated dozens of American girls over a ten year period and DID NOT FIND A SINGLE ONE HE WANTED TO BE WITH MORE THAN 24 hours and like his father before him he is marrying a foreign woman with more traditional mores and values. Men will always vote with their feet. I tell my own daughters that no man has to marry them. They have to be worth it and bring something into the marriage and be prepared to make sacrifices as a good man will make many sacrifices for his wife and family. And if he is a good man he will be patient and wait. A man who won’t treat his woman with patience and kindness is not worthy of even a kiss. And I also tell them mucho mejor vestir santos que desnudar borrachos –it is better not to marry at all than to marry poorly. But then ‘tis a poor marriage indeed that is not better than hard service [dubh-chosnadh] (Is bochd am posadh nach fhearr na ‘n dubh-chosnadh). Traditionally, hard physical, outdoor work and dangerous work was not consider desirable for a woman nor for her beauty.

And then American baseball coaches call the ineffable the ‘10th man”. There is no question there is a certain team dynamic ; the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. As a teacher I see this in classrooms, too or on competition teams.

I personally saw the 1969 Mets win the World Championship over one of the greatest managers and greatest teams of all-time, the Baltimore Orioles under Earl Weaver. The Orioles were at least a match for the Mets in pitching and were heads and shoulders above the Mets in every other category. On paper the Mets should not have won more than one game. But when it was all over the Mets beat the Orioles four games to one. There is always the unexpected. There are those things which people of faith call miracles. Looking back I think the Mets had an equally great manager Gil Hodges –a man who had played the greatest teams of all time on one of the greatest teams of all time and knew baseball talent. And they had the unexpected. The Orioles had never played them and probable did not scout them until the very end of the season so they probably knew the Mets less than any other team. And of course the Mets had a real ace in the hole –the man who, in the playoffs against the Braves, struck out a great hitter Rico Carty on a 3-2 count just after Carty had hit a ball into the upper deck and was foul by just a few feet. I will never forget when Gil Hodges removed Gary Gentry on a 3-2 count and brought in a then relatively unknown rookie pitcher named Nolan Ryan. So the Orioles had all the big names and the Mets had little names but in retrospect they had just the right mix of great young talent and veterans plus what the French call je ne sais quois.

This is why scientism in education is often so wrong (and so boring and dead). I point out to my students, at least once a year, that the great indispensible authors are, Dante, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Goethe, Vergil, Homer and in my book Robert Burns. I have delivered a few Immortal memories in my time and have known the poet since I was a wee. True education is much bigger than schools. Schooling is not education only a part of it.

But not a single one had an elite education or was university educated. We know little about Homer’s personal life but we know historically the Academy and Lyceum were still centuries in the future when he thrived and many scholars speculate that Homer –like Ossian- could not write at all. I also add that some of the most influential thinkers and teachers of all time wrote nothing Socrates and Jesus of Nazareth. And we could go on. Leonardo da Vinci. Isaac Newton was the son of a north country farmer and was considered a mediocre, dreamy student.

I shall never forget the lines of poet John Masefield:

I have seen flowers in stony places

And kindnesss done by men with ugly faces

And the gold cup won by the worst horse at the races

So I trust , too.

For what it is worth the musings of a rural school master.

Richard K. Munro


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