We always think we know more than we do.
Call it the vanity of the modern world: We think we are wiser than our forefathers merely because we have access to more information, but wisdom resides not merely in access to information but in application of information. And in this, we moderns (especially millennials) are sorely lacking.
How, though? How could a generation with instant access to all the world’s information still be so abysmally, unabashedly stupid?
Truth be told, it’s not entirely their fault; they are victims of a pedagogy run amok. Academic post-modernism has successfully destroyed the foundation for proper education, and it has done so intentionally. After all, there is nothing so useful to a politician than a citizenry educated enough to perform a given function but not educated enough to direct itself in its own affairs- and it is politicians that determine policy in public education.
How this has been accomplished is up for debate, but I propose a three-fold theory:
1 Education has moved away from the development of fundamental skill sets such as logic, reading and writing, mathematics, history, philosophy, the natural sciences, and so forth, in favor of newer, more modern skill sets. Classical education, it is argued, has little value in our modern world; what good are Shakespeare and Schopenhauer, after all? Though ostensibly practical, this move in reality has undermined the development of any and all higher level skills because it has removed their most basic foundation: the ability to think deeply, which has always been the goal of classical education, and without which society as such, especially western society, is impossible.
2 As a consequence, education has also abandoned classical measures of excellence such as memorization, testing, etc. These, it is argued, are too constraining, and damaging to our poor snowflakes, because they are not democratic enough. But it is only through great self-discipline that great self-confidence may be developed; the classical method of education results in an appreciation for hard work, for all the blood and sweat that is necessary in order to accomplish a great goal. And no matter how well-meaning the intentions of liberals, they do no good by raising our children to be emotional cripples.
3 Ultimately, these policy decisions have resulted in an inability to effectively reconfigure old information in new ways. Fundamentals, though tedious, must come first; creativity comes last. The desire to cultivate creativity in children by freeing them from discipline actually results in the suppression of self-mastery, which itself a prerequisite for creativity itself. By abandoning the old way, the child is “freed,” in a sense, but never develops the skill sets necessary to do anything meaningful with that freedom. And that is not education; that is intellectual and emotional abandonment.
We owe it to our children to give them discipline- and not only mentally but physically as well- for it is only through external discipline that we develop internal discipline; it is only when we have long submitted to the will of our parents and teachers that we finally learn to command ourselves. It may not be popular to say it, but if we are to enjoy freedom as adults, we must first learn to obey. That is what education is, ultimately: It is not merely about information; it is also about obedience. To teach the former without the latter is disastrous, for when we teach information without obedience, we give power without either the capacity to use it properly or the responsibility for the consequences of its misapplication. Still, we must hold men accountable nonetheless, knowing that in doing so, we commit an injustice of sorts, for it was academia's abdication of its duties that created the problem in the first place. So if entire generations of children now enter into the world ill-equipped to control themselves, that is ultimately the fault of their parents and teachers and not the fault of the students.
This problem cannot be solved by children; it must be solved by parents becoming parents in truth, and by teachers becoming teachers. We have created a monster, and now we must bring it to heel; no one can help solve the problem but us. For we have ignored the words of C.S. Lewis, who once remarked, "Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil."
But the world has plenty of devils; we do not need more.
~ Joshua van Asakinda
7 May, 2018