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School daze

Kathy Shaidle has been grousing that none of the young guys killed in the West Virginia Tech shooting did anything to resist getting blown away and young conservative guys are defending them.

She touches on part of the explanation in her most recent comment, to the effect that you don’t have to be a highly-trained expert to be effective in an emergency. I’d put the point more strongly: the more formal study you’ve had the more flat-footed you’re going to be when something comes up you weren’t trained for. Since advanced education trains you to do very few things of immediate practical use a country in which everybody goes to school for a long time is going to be a country in which people aren’t able to do much for themselves. They’ll all rely on people with special training.

The graph on the right shows the steep rise in formal education in this country over the past 60 years. People claim the rise has to do with the need for highly-trained personnel in a complex global whatever. I’m doubtful, though. A lot of what passes for education does more to deprive people of what they have than teach them anything worthwhile. Surveys show that today’s college students are barely more knowledgeable than high school students of 50 years ago, and my guess is that normal everyday functioning has gotten worse. Maybe things would be different if higher education were normally classical education, which (it may be) adds an additional dimension to normal ways of functioning rather than trying to replace them with something new and improved. The effect of modern educational ideals though is that people get trained out of their common sense in favor of what experts say, which is rarely of equivalent value.



We should be most concerned with what this particular lack of resistance shows about our overall will to fight and survive. Compare this situation with the decreasing will to resist the danger currently posed by Islam. We are relying on our leaders to take a stand even though they have clearly shown us that they are not on our side or absent from the fight. I used to think that most Americans held the view that survival trumps all. I’m not so certain anymore.

It seems to me that formal education and other mass culture institutions are designed to train normal responses to fundamental human situations out of us. The basic reason I think is that strong responses by individuals and informal groups to basic things, e.g., fundamental human ties and loyalties or threats from outsiders, makes them much less manageable.

The problem (at least one problem) is that the idea they can manage everything goes to people’s head. Management is a kind of technology, and we know that technology can do anything. If people think they can train the sexes to be the same they think they can do anything. So how can e.g. Islam possibly be a problem when the example of the Episcopal Church shows that religion can be redefined to mean the UN Millennium Development Goals if that’s what the higher-ups want?

Rem tene, verba sequentur.

Rem tene, verba sequentur.

“Rem tene, verba sequentur”

Sorry Dr. Kalb, I’m a bit slow on the uptake at times. I’ll pay closer attention in the future.

Poyius sero quam numquam