Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Does Education Exist?

Not having internet access on the weekend does have its downside. Of course, we have to measure this against the obvious benefits that it does leave you a little time for yourself in which you can accomplish such frivolous things as cooking, cleaning, going to church, sleeping, eating, and so on. (We won't mention that many of these take a backseat when a "concert hell weekend" comes along, as it did this past weekend, and you get stuck singing four concerts in 24 hours.)

Anyway, we wrote yesterday's response to RW before we saw a comment on the Just Third Way blog on this past Friday's post and followed the URL (it's not a link, unfortunately — but THIS is) to its source. The poster is an educator in Fairfax County, Virginia (USA) who is in the process of completing a temporary teaching assignment at a grade school.

As we mentioned yesterday, we like responding to questions, because it lets us off the hook for writing a separate blog posting. For today, then, we're just cutting and pasting yesterday's response to the teacher:

Dear Teach:

As they say, evidently great minds do run in the same channel. (Of course, they also say, "Fools think alike.) Your efforts to inculcate basic principles of existence into your students, however temporary your position, are one of the few bright lights in an otherwise dim prospect for public schooling, and (increasingly) even in private schooling. This is in accordance with your career decision not to continue working for a company that violated the most basic precepts of justice — thereby giving the lie to the claim that we cannot know the nature of justice. Within the framework dictated by moral relativism, your act and your subsequent career choice were those of a fool. Within the framework of the Just Third Way based on the absolutes of the natural moral law, they were those of a hero - that is, a normal human being. This you communicate to your students, both by precept and by example.

As you engage in a search for another, possibly more permanent position, now that the temporary assignment is completed, remain confident in your principles, and do not be discouraged by the antics of the educational establishment. Keep in mind that, especially in these harsh economic times, many people in presumably secure positions feel extremely insecure in their jobs. To the scarcity/Malthusian mentality, any and every newcomer is a threat to job security. Add to this the fear and mistrust of "new" ideas such as truth, love, and justice, and what may come across as hostility or indifference is simply evidence of people who are baffled by modern life, and who have yet to come to terms with what Pope Leo XIII called "new things," much less Pope Pius XI's breakthrough in moral philosophy and the act of social justice.

Whether they realize it or not, most people remain trapped in an idealized and extremely artificial 18th century attitude similar to that which paralyzed Henry Adams as related in his navel-gazing autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams. There is no more perfect recipe for individual and social disaster. Can you truly blame them for not grasping the significance of Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler's principles of economic justice? Their educational and social thinking is centuries out of date. How can their political, economic or even financial thought be any different?

You therefore face a most difficult task. You have to present the truth about life to people who are badly frightened by it before you can even begin to convince them to allow you to teach children. They will resist. Always, however, keep in mind number 17 of the CESJ Code of Ethics: "There are three keys to gaining acceptance of revolutionary ideas: Persistence, Persistence, and Persistence."

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