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The Price We Pay For "Enstupidation": Reflections On A Confederate Schooling
Toogood Reports ^ | February 10, 2003 | Fred Reed

Posted on 02/10/2003 9:58:48 AM PST by Stand Watch Listen

Yesterday I listened to a discussion, aired by the radio station of the University of Guadalajara, on how to get Mexican children to read more, which it seems theirs don't either. A group concerned with the question had compiled a solid list of suggested reading for Mexican students (including Dumas and Robert Louis Stevenson). I wish them well.

What caught my attention was that, as Mexico tries to raise its standards, we have sought to lower ours, with notable success. It seems a perverse thing to do. My daughters recently graduated from high school (and do read) so I have an idea of the state of bookish affairs. By all reports, even smart children today read little, and still less that is worth reading. I have seen the science fiction and political correctness required of them. It is sorry stuff. They have missed, I think, an important boat.

The wonderful children's books of the past were not merely for children, and were not in the least dumbed down (I prefer "enstupidated") or unsophisticated. Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner are delightful things, notable for the sheer quality of the writing. Through the Looking Glass and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland are not easy books, unsurprising since Dodgson was a mathematician, and swam in deep philosophical waters. The Wind in the Willows likewise bears rereading by grownups and, may I emphasize, isn't easy reading unless a child has truly learned to read. These required of children a mastery of the language that adults now do not have.

Kipling's classics — The Jungle Books, Just So Stories, Under the Deodars, Stalky & Company — were neither sappy nor condescending, and taught an easy fluency of reading and a love of good prose. The only recent work of the same stature is Tolkien's trilogy with its quietly elegant English and fine story. It is a good read for a fourteen-year-old; and also for a reader of fifty who can appreciate the unerring weave of Carolingian myth, the northern sagas, Arthurian legend, the Jewish golem and English rural life, all wrapped in a complexly ordered philological backdrop that delighted the literate.

The illustrations accompanying many of the old books were not the grinning pabulum of Hollywood, but as good as the writing. The illustrators, if commercial artists in that they earned money by their work, were also fine talents who cared about their work and evoked worlds that those who read them never forget: Tenniel, Rackham, Shepard. To read The Jungle Books, to savor Shepard's illustrations, and then to see what the cultural cockroaches of Disney have done to them, is to yearn for a horsewhip.

We pay a price for enstupidation. There floats around the Internet what purports to be, and probably is, an eight-grade exam from a school in Kansas in 1895. Most graduates of today's universities could not pass it. One of the questions requires the giving of the principal parts of the verbs "lie" and "lay." I can do it instantly: lie, lay, lain; lay, laid, laid. I know what both mean and when to use them. I don't have to think about them.

I can do these things not because of any particular acuity, but because I went to Robert E. Lee Elementary in Virginia long ago, and then to the junior high of Athens, Alabama in 1957. We were expected to know what principal parts were, to memorize vast numbers of them, and to diagram (I was sure at the time) every sentence ever written.

Diagramming is now equated with deadening mindlessness. No. I learned how my language worked, what a subjunctive was, the difference between a direct object, an indirect object, and a predicate nominative. One reason why Americans in Mexico have such a terrible time learning Spanish is that they know none of these things.

The effect of learning how a thing ought to be done is that it becomes painful to see it done badly. The misusage one hears today is awful: "I was laying down." "For he and I." "There's six on the table." The abominable and increasing, "Me and him was talking." "If someone comes into the ladies' room, tell them to fix their hair themself." The appalling confusion of "its" and "it's," "your" and "you're." Once is a typo. Five times in a few paragraphs is semiliteracy.

Grammar is not the only decedent. Words that meant different things no longer do. "Sensuous" does not, or should not, mean "sensual," or historic, historical, or militate, mitigate, or tragedy, disaster; or stoic, stoical; or oversight, supervision. The result is that writers have to use circumlocutions if they want to be sure that younger readers grasp their meaning.

Those who cannot read cannot write. A common complaint of professors old enough to be fully literate is that their students aren't. They cannot spell, or organize a coherent paragraph; they think that a verb agrees with the object of the nearest preposition, and lack a gerbil's grasp of the simplest principles of composition.

They don't know, and don't know that they don't know. Here is the nut of the matter: once a generation loses all cultivation, no one remains who remembers what it was, and there is no one either to teach it or remember why it was a good idea. We are there.

The promiscuous reading that once was common among intelligent children provided an unordered but broad schooling that the schools couldn't, and were not expected to. Much of it was of no lasting value, as for example the literally dozens and dozens of Hardy Boys, the old and new Tom Swifts, the Nancy Drews, the Plastic Man and Wonder Woman and Classics Illustrated comics that we inhaled by sheaves in drug stores. They taught speed and fluency.

Yet much of it in its sheer un-thought-out profligacy did teach things of value. At perhaps age seven I went on a fairytale kick, reading Grimms, Edith Hamilton (I regarded myths as fairy tales), Andersen, Bullfinch, The Tanglewood Tales, the Jatakas, and a book of Hawaiian mythology in which I encountered Pele, the goddess of volcanoes. (I understand that she later played soccer for Brazil.) It was worth doing.

A peasantrified population is, among other things, politically malleable. A bright child of seven who reads turns into a kid of eighteen who thinks, at least during moments of hormonal respite; who graduates to serious history and literature and, when lied to, will go to the library and check out a book. Those who live for television will believe what they are told, having no inkling that they are being bamboozled. Is this intended, or just incidental to the larger aims of our cultural vandals? I don't know.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS: educationnews
Here are links to various education threads (also containing numerous helpful links)


Walter E. Williams: Inferior Education of Black Americans; Published: February 05, 2003; Author: Walter E. Williams

Union Fraud Underscores Need for School Vouchers
Source:; Published: February 05, 2003; Author: Linda Chavez

Time for public schools to throw in the towel?
Source:; Published: January 27, 2003; Author: Dr. Laura Schlessinger

My Classroom From Hell
Source: The Wall Street Journal; Published: January 24, 2003; Author: Joshua Kaplowitz

Can more money make schools better?
Source:; Published: January 21, 2003; Author: Phyllis Schlafly

Are public schools constitutional?
Source: NewsWithViews; Published: JANUARY 20, 2003; Auythor: Lynn M. Stuter

The intellectual rape of Oakland's schools
Source:; Published: January 17, 2003; Author: David Horowitz

Hip-hop hogwash in the schools (Michelle Malkin)
Source:; Published: January 15, 2003; Author: Michelle Malkin

Dumbed Down and Dumber Still
Source: The American Prowler; Published: January 15, 2003; Author: By George Neumayr

Washington's education establishment
Source:; Published: January 8, 2003; Author:Walter Williams

NEA Hastens Death of American Education
Source: INSIGHT magazine; Published: January 6, 2003; Author: Ralph de Toledano

White Teachers Fleeing Black Schools
Source: Newsmax; Published:January 1, 2003; Author: Chad Roedemeier

Fiddling whilst Rome burns
Source:; Published: December 26, 2002; Author: Walter Williams

Government School Monopolies Leave Children Behind
Source: Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty; Published: December 4, 2002; Author: Clint Green

The silence of the lambs: McMillan blasts bureaucrats for destroying public education
Source:; Published: August 15, 2002; Author: Craige McMillan

Taking Charge: Let's Stop Aiding and Abetting Academicians' Folly
Source: HOME EDUCATION magazine; Published: July-August 2002; Author: Larry and Susan Kaseman

’Open Directory’ --Society/Issues/Education/Education_Reform

Deconstructing Public Education
Source:; Published: July 26, 2002; Author: Diane Alden

Specious Science In Our Schools
Source: Toogood Reports; Published: July 9, 2002; Author: Alan Caruba

SYMPOSIUM Q: Is the National Education Association Being Fair to Its Religious Objectors?
Source: INSIGHT magazine; Published: June 10, 2002; Authors NO: Stefan Gleason ////\\\\ YES: Bob Chase

Public Sector Subverting Productive Industry
Source: Toogood Reports; Published: May 16, 2002; Author: Henry Pelifian

History of America's Education Part 2: Noah Webster and Early America
Source: Sierra Times; Published: March 27, 2002; Author: April Shenandoah

How Communist is Public Education?
Source:; Published:March 22, 2002; Author: Chuck Morse

History of America's Education Part 1: Johnny is in trouble
Source: Sierra Times; Published: March 20, 2002; Author: April Shenandoah

Audit rips Georgia schools' curriculum
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Published: March 11, 2002; Author:JAMES SALZER

Why schools fail: Samuel Blumenfeld warns Bush's education legislation is ineffective
Source:; Published: March 2, 2002; Author: Samuel Blumenfeld

Public School Isn't Like I Remember It
Source: Too Good Reports; Published: February 28, 2002; Author: Phyllis Schlafly

What Is Lacking In Our Educational System
Source: Too Good Reports; Published: February 28, 2002; Author: Ben Cerruti

The charade of education reform
Source:; Published: February 2, 2002; Author: Dr. Samuel L. Blumenfeld

American public schools: Working just as designed
Source:; Published: January 21, 2002; Author: Vox Day

High Schools Fail Thanks To Grade Inflation And Social Promotion
Source: Toogood Reports; Published: December 5, 2001; Author: Vin Suprynowicz

Source: Accuracy in Media; Published: December 4, 2001; Author: Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid

The Failing Teacher and the Teachers' Code of Silence
Source:; Published: December 3, 2001; Author: Glenn Sacks

Time for outrage! Linda Bowles reports latest results in America's public schools
Source:; Published: November 27, 2001; Author: Linda Bowles

Illiterate in Boston: Samuel Blumenfeld explains U.S.'s ongoing reading problem
Source:; Published: July 20, 2001; Author: Samuel Blumenfeld

NEA - Let our children go!
Source: WorldNet Daily; Published: June 23. 2001; Author: Linda Harvey

Source: Accuracy In Media; Published: June 5, 2001; Author: Cliff Kincaid

Why Do Schools Play Games With Students' Minds ?
Source: The Detroit News; Published: April 1, 2001; Author: Thomas Sowell

The Public School Nightmare: Why fix a system designed to destroy individual thought?
Source:; Author: John Taylor Gatto

Dumbing down teachers
Source:; Published: February 21, 2001; Author: John Leo

Free Republic links to education related articles (thread#8)
Source: Free Republic; Published: 3-20-2001; Author: Various

Are children deliberately 'dumbed down' in school? {YES!!!}
Source: World Net Daily; Published: May 13, 2001; Author: Geoff Metcalf {Interview}

Could they really have done it on purpose?
Source: THE LIBERTARIAN; Published: 07/28/2000; Author: Vin Suprynowicz

New Book Explores America's Education Catastrophe
Source: Christian Citizen USA; Published: April 2000; Author: William H. Wild

Deliberately dumbing us down (Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt's, "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America"
Source:; Published: December 2,1999; Author: Samuel L. Blumenfeld

Deconstructing the Western Mind: Gramscian-Marxist Subversion of Faith and Education
Source: www.petersnet; Published: Winter 1997; Author: Frank Morriss

Littleton Crisis to Government Control

The UN Plan for Your Mental Health

Lexington Institute

NonPartisan Action For a Better Redding

Quality of Education Commentary, Opinion, and Book Reviews

1 posted on 02/10/2003 9:58:48 AM PST by Stand Watch Listen
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To: Stand Watch Listen
Is this intended, or just incidental to the larger aims of our cultural vandals?


2 posted on 02/10/2003 10:07:29 AM PST by NativeNewYorker (Freepin' Jew Boy)
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To: *Education News
3 posted on 02/10/2003 10:07:41 AM PST by Libertarianize the GOP (Ideas have consequences)
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To: Stand Watch Listen
Anyone want to freep a poll sponsored by the liberal Kentucky Education Association?? I don't know if you need a "registered account" to vote, but they have a question on their home page as to whether you are coming to Frankfort, the State Capitol, tomorrow to support them in whining for even more taxdollar-support in the public schools. Right now, the poll shows that over 80% of visitors to the web page support their grab for more taxdollars. What they are doing in the Kentucky schools is outrageous. They are planning an Education Rally, as they call it, for more tax dollars to be spent on the corrupt public education system in Kentucky. At first they tried to scare the teachers in Kentucky by telling them that salaries, aides, librarians, books, etc. were going to be cut, if public school funding was not increased. And that is why they cancelled school in many counties across Kentucky for tomorrow.

And today the liberal Courier Journal even ran a story admitting that the State House Budget Spares Schools
In fact, Rep. Harry Moberly, D-Richmond, and chairman of the House budget committee, admits that schools will get a $27 million increase next year over the budget that the legislature proposed last year!! Anyone else outraged by the Kentucky Education Association's money grab ??

4 posted on 02/11/2003 11:21:29 AM PST by RonPaulLives (Virgil Moore/Don Bell For Kentucky 2003)
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