Julie (aka Cookie) has an interesting post on an opinion piece written by Newt Gingrich, reign of terror. The subject is how France’s original experiment in Socialism led to the French Reign of Terror. Gingrich is obviously concerned that Socialists in the United States will eventually create similar havoc in this country.
likes to begin her posts with fascinating quotations. Here is how reign of terror begins.
“The secret of freedom lies in educating people,
whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.”
Both in her post and Gringrich in his article make references to education. Gingrich expresses concern about the decline of tolerance in the classroom, “left-wing activists taking over classrooms to prevent conservative voices from speaking”. observes that the government skews education towards the benefit of the “knowledge provider”, that is, towards the benefit of politicians.
The rise of interest in Socialism in this nation indicates a severe decline in the quality of education. How bad is this decline? Consider how Plato defined education in LAWS (Translated By Benjamin Jowett). Here is an excerpt of the dialogue between a wise Athenian stranger and an interested Cretan.
ATHENIAN: You seem to be quite ready to listen; and I am also ready to perform as much as I can of an almost impossible task, which I will nevertheless attempt. At the outset of the discussion, let me define the nature and power of education; for this is the way by which our argument must travel onwards to the God Dionysus.
CLEINIAS: Let us proceed, if you please.
ATHENIAN: Well, then, if I tell you what are my notions of education, will you consider whether they satisfy you?
CLEINIAS: Let us hear.
ATHENIAN: According to my view, any one who would be good at anything must practise that thing from his youth upwards, both in sport and earnest, in its several branches: for example, he who is to be a good builder, should play at building children’s houses; he who is to be a good husbandman, at tilling the ground; and those who have the care of their education should provide them when young with mimic tools. They should learn beforehand the knowledge which they will afterwards require for their art. For example, the future carpenter should learn to measure or apply the line in play; and the future warrior should learn riding, or some other exercise, for amusement, and the teacher should endeavour to direct the children’s inclinations and pleasures, by the help of amusements, to their final aim in life. The most important part of education is right training in the nursery. The soul of the child in his play should be guided to the love of that sort of excellence in which when he grows up to manhood he will have to be perfected. Do you agree with me thus far?
ATHENIAN: Then let us not leave the meaning of education ambiguous or ill-defined. At present, when we speak in terms of praise or blame about the bringing-up of each person, we call one man educated and another uneducated, although the uneducated man may be sometimes very well educated for the calling of a retail trader, or of a captain of a ship, and the like. For we are not speaking of education in this narrower sense, but of that other education in virtue from youth upwards, which makes a man eagerly pursue the ideal perfection of citizenship, and teaches him how rightly to rule and how to obey. This is the only education which, upon our view, deserves the name; that other sort of training, which aims at the acquisition of wealth or bodily strength, or mere cleverness apart from intelligence and justice, is mean and illiberal, and is not worthy to be called education at all. But let us not quarrel with one another about a word, provided that the proposition which has just been granted hold good: to wit, that those who are rightly educated generally become good men. Neither must we cast a slight upon education, which is the first and fairest thing that the best of men can ever have, and which, though liable to take a wrong direction, is capable of reformation. And this work of reformation is the great business of every man while he lives.
In his day Plato saw government as central in the instruction of virtue. The Founders of this nation saw that as a failed experiment. Moreover, they realized that if the state tried to instruct children in virtue they would have to establish a state religion. So they chose to leave instruction in virtue to parents and whatever church parents chose to support.
Unfortunately, starting in about the 1830’s Americans began to seriously experiment with public education. As a result of decades of mission creep, we now have mismanaged mess that generally involves four levels of government: school boards, local government, state government, and the Federal Government.
There are three basic problems with this administrative morass.
- Nobody is in charge because everyone is in charge. Nobody can make the system work properly because no one has sufficient authority.
- We have a socialist education system, government-run and government-controlled. Since politicians pay for it, politicians, not parents and their children, are the customers of this administrative morass. Therefore, the public school system serves various political interests. Politicians, because they have to have their votes, do try to pacify parents, but they work with greater vigor to serve their political donors. Can you guess who they might be?
- As Plato observed, the primary goal of education is to instill virtue in children. Some of our politicians have an interest in that subject, but what is virtuous to one person is evil to another. That’s why freedom of religion requires that we restrain our government.
Without proper instruction in virtue, what do children lack when they grow up? Wisdom. Government exists to provide for justice, as best men are capable of such a thing. Socialists, however, would pervert the purpose of government. One of our presidents put it this way.
Government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. — Gerald R. Ford (from here)
Without the instruction in virtue — the instruction in wisdom — required to understand the danger, our uneducated children will give away their freedom for worthless trinkets. You have a child or grandchild? Is it not time you spoke to your child or grandchild about the pursuit of happiness. It is not found in the accumulation of stuff, the pleasure of sex, the power of the state, or the worship of self. We find happiness in the pursuit of virtue.
Matthew 7:13-14 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Narrow Way
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 [a]Because narrow is the gate and [b]difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
As long as parents were extremely involved, our public system remained somewhat in check… but with the break-up of the family and dual income homes, government schools have had a free pass, and things have gone from tolerable to terrible. Sigh… i taught in public, private and home school… there are many, many wonderful teachers but the public system is a mess. Sigh…
No easy way to fix the public school system. School choice is just about all we can do.
Virtue is a word that is very seldom heard anymore in our contemporary world unless you attend a private school or study philosophy.
Wisdom and virtue are the two most needed course in education, in my opinion.
If you try to use the word virtue in the same sentence with government today, it would be a misnomer.
I do not recall ever hearing the word virtue to describe socialism either.
Finding an appropriate word use of virtuous acts in the news today is a rare occurrence.
Regards and good will blogging.
Ouch! Come to think of it I don’t either.
Thanks for including me Tom in your excellent post— I wrote mine with you in mind as I knew you’d add the best seasoning available!!
All I did was add some fixings to the main course, but I sure thank you for thinking of me and setting me up with a good idea for a blog post.
I think our government is enabling covetousness in our march to socialism.
You have something. I want it because I don’t have it. I advocate for the government to take it from you and give it to me. It starts with covetousness and ends up in theft. But we also seem to have a culture of covetousness.
Thanks for the insight!
The tenth commandment is unique in that the sin is about thinking something, not doing something. It is a warning against even thinking we can get away with starting down the path where covetousness leads us. Many of our politicians and advertisers, however, sure don’t want us to learn that. It is a pity what teaching children that covetousness is okay will do them.
Wow what a great post. I fear our government has been leaning towards socialism for some time. I especially liked the Gerald Ford quote. Spot on.
Probably Ford’s most popular quote.