Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Dispossessed Majority: The Atrophy of Education

Quotes from Wilmot Robertson, The Dispossessed Majority (Howard Allen, Cape Canaveral, Fl., 1981)

See also The Cultural Clash: The Dissolution of Art and The Cultural Clash: The Secularization of Religion

The Cultural Clash: The Atrophy of Education

Education, the third of the three principal combat zones in the cultural clash, is the process whereby man’s most priceless possession, his culture, is passed on to posterity. If the process is tampered with, if the cultural testament of a people or race is altered, so to speak, while still in probate, the inheritance itself may waste away. It is the creeping atrophy of the traditional mechanics of cultural flow from one generation to another which characterizes the present state of American education.

In the terminal chapter of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon said he had described the triumph of barbarism and religion. A future historian completing a survey of the deterioration of American education might say with equal oversimplification that he had described the triumph of John Dewey and Benjamin Spock. Dr. Spock has been singled out because his Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care has sold more than 19 million copies and, except for the Bible, World Almanac, and The McGuffey Reader, may be America’s all-time bestseller. It has been estimated that between 1945 and 1955 one out of every four American children was brought up according to Spockian precepts. Since the home phase of education is as important as any of the later stages, Spock has probably wielded more influence than any other person, living or dead, on American education.

As for the merits or demerits of such influence, one point should be made clear: Dr. Spock is not only a pediatrician, but also a psychiatrist, and a Freudian psychiatrist to boot. Consequently his theories are grounded in such banal Freudiana as birth trauma, infantile sexuality, oral and anal stages, and penis envy. Spock, moreover, centered the child’s preschool education on the child himself instead of on parent and child as a unit - on the link rather than the chain of the human continuum. Self-expression, in Spock’s Weltblick, is more important than discipline, affection more important than guidance. Most important, although he never describes it in exactly these terms, is what might be called the economy of parental worry. Almost nothing will go wrong, Spock promises, if things are allowed to run their course. In this respect Spock’s wildlife approach to pediatrics reduces to a gigantic nostrum for the relief of parental anxiety. In appreciation for lightening their traditional burden of responsibility and pushing a great deal of it off on the child, millions of American mothers have made Spock a multimillionaire.

It was obvious from the start that parents who followed Spock’s teachings would pamper and spoil their children for fear of wounding their egos and implanting neuroses they might carry about with them for the rest of their lives. The fruits of such permissiveness were to be seen in the activities of the ‘flower children,’ hippie cultists, and student insurrectionaries, all of whom belonged to the first Spock-trained generation of Americans. The results are also to be found in Spock’s oldest son, Michael, a problem child and three-time college dropout who spent nine years in deep analysis.

Too late and too half-heartedly, Spock came to see, at least dimly, the error his ways. Admitting he had been ‘over-permissive,’ Spock recanted to the extent of drawing in some of the latitudinous boundaries he had placed on self-expression and in later editions of his book the word discipline is seen more frequently. In 1968, after shifting his sphere of interest from pediatrics to the war in Vietnam, Spock was sentenced to jail for conspiracy to counsel draft evasion. He had finally become a martyr, albeit a short-lived one because the verdict was later reversed.

When Spock began to devote most of his time to protest movements and legal maneuvers to escape imprisonment, his place was filled in part by the Israeli-born Dr. Haim Ginott, described as the ‘Dr. Spock of the emotions.’ Ginott’s principal thesis is that parents should become amateur psychologists in order to ‘decode’ their children’s behavior. Misbehavior may be tolerated but not sanctioned, and a balance between strictness and indulgence is best achieved by a strategy of sympathy.

The minority grip on the upbringing of Majority children has been further tightened by newspaper and magazine pundits whose readers can be counted by the millions. The columnists who hold the most authoritative sway over parental and teenage attitudes are those who deal with personal problems in the form of replies to letters, some of which are bona fide, some obviously planted. The two most widely read ‘sob sisters’ are Abigail van Buren (‘Dear Abby’) and Ann Landers, who are Jewish identical twins. The creator of ‘Sesame Street,’ the network television program that teaches integration to children at the preschool level, is Joan Ganz Cooney, also of Jewish extraction.

Once the child leaves home for school, the dogmatic lures of child psychiatrists, amateur and professional, are traded for those of formal educationists. Here, even in the first grade, children will fall under the long, quixotic shadow of the late John Dewey, the driving force of what has become known as progressive education. To Spock the child was the senior partner of the parent. To Dewey the student was the senior partner of the teacher.

The subject matter of education, in Dewey’s view, was not as important as the method. Character forming and moral training yielded to problem solving and learning by doing. The use or religious and historical example to instill courage, loyalty, pride, and good citizenship was discouraged. The true goal of education was determined to be the search for a better social order. The study of the classics and of Latin and Greek was dropped and replaced by the social sciences. Classroom discipline was relaxed in favor of teacher-student dialogues. The instructor himself became more concerned with the how of learning than the what.

Predictably, progressive education soon progressed into a state of educational anarchy. It was a noble attempt, as so many of the great ideals of liberalism and democracy are noble in theory before their indiscriminate application makes them ignoble in practice. Unhappily man, who belongs to Homo sapiens, not to a race of gods, is neither mentally, morally, nor physically self-sufficient. The most intelligent, the most advanced, and the most responsible society in history could hardly have profited from such uncontrolled and uncoordinated experimental stabs at the learning process. Yet they were thrust upon increasing hordes of slum-dwelling, uprooted children, whose upbringing, surroundings, and educational capacity were hardly above the Neanderthal level. In no time, all the high hopes and good intentions were reduced to shibboleths of racial and class agitators, while in large urban areas the lack of ethical indoctrination and the incessant depreciation of tested societal values turned out a whole generation of mentally anesthetized, morally disoriented nihilists.

Even Dewey began to see the light in his latter days. Like Spock, he shortened his sails by advocating the reestablishment of a measure of educational discipline. But it was much too little and far too late. The blackboard jungle, student assaults on teachers, campus violence and sit-ins, the senseless destruction of laboratories and libraries - all signaled the death agonies of a once great educational system. If Dewey had lived, he would have been forced, as an Old Believer and an honest pragmatist who knew the proof of the theory was in the testing, to have abandoned almost all his educational ideas. Si monumentum requiris, circumspice.

One extreme example of education failing completely to equip young Americans to meet the trials and tribulations of modern life was the mass murder of eight nurses in Chicago in 1966. A ninth nurse, a Filipino girl, was the only one to escape. It was no coincidence that she happened to be the one who had been least exposed to contemporary educational techniques. She hid under the bed while the others were led off one by one to be knifed to death. The other nurses did not resist because they felt they could reason with the murderer. They thought they could calm him with procedures they had learned in class. According to newspaper reports, they ‘all had psych and they were pretty sharp.’

Although American education is in extremis, there have been few attempts to save it. One proposal has been to bring back the ‘great books’ and let them stand as permanent guideposts for learning. But the problems of American education are much too complex to be solved by the simple substitution of the very old for the very new. Another proposal has been put forward by the ‘essentialist’ pedagogues who describe a common core of learning to be absorbed by everyone, regardless of ability or personal aims. A few educators are turning back to Plato, who believed that education was the drawing out of innate ideas and who could not insist enough on the moral aspects of teaching.

[I]f the question is univerally what considerable advantage the city derives from the education of the educated, the answer is easy. Education is the way to produce good men, and, once produced, such men will live nobly …

Aristotle, once considered the greatest of all authorities on education, has been largely abandoned by Western educationists. It is not hard to understand why. Aristotle asserted that the chief purpose of education was the molding of citizens to fit the form of government under which they lived, to develop in them a sense of affection for the state, and to encourage the growth and unfolding of human intelligence. Still widely prevalent, on the other hand, are the educational theories of Locke, who stressed the teaching of tolerance and civil liberty. Even more popular are the ideas of Rousseau, who abandoned his own five offspring, but whose Ēmile had more influence on child upbringing than any other work until Dr. Spock’s magnum opus. Although Rousseau declared that Negroes were intellectually inferior to Europeans, he is a favorite theorist of those who press hardest for school desegregation. Whereas Plato suggested that goodness be implanted in the student by education, Rousseau decided that goodness was already there and that the teacher’s job was to coax it to the surface.

In colonial times and in the early days of independence, American education was primarily a religious undertaking. It did not become public, secular, compulsory, and ‘universal’ until the last half of the nineteenth century. At present, religious control and sponsorship of education are limited to parochial schools, of which the Roman Catholic church has by far the largest number. Today about one-half of the 11,000,000 American Catholics of school age are in parochial schools, a ratio that is expected to fall to one-third in the next generation. Catholic education is assisted by the fact that tens of thousands of members of religious orders are willing to teach for next to nothing in salary. Needless to say, the steady increase in living costs and the steady decrease in faith seriously threaten the future of the Catholic teaching profession.

From 1965 to 1976 the number of nonpublic schools declined from 19,946 to 17,950 and nonpublic enrollment from 6.3 to 4.8 million. Most of this loss occurred in Catholic parochial schools, even though the number of minority students in these schools increased by 67,000. The number and enrollment of other private schools, especially Christian academies in the South, have shown a marked increase in this period, as white families move their children from desegregated public schools. Jewish school enrollment, on the other hand, declined to 360,000 (from 600,000 in 1963).

As suggested previously, a decline in formal religion does not necessarily result in a nation of atheists. The religious instinct does not mortify. It flows into different channels in the search of different divinities. In the school system, as in so many other American institutions, Christianity is simply being phased out by the modern religious syncretism of democracy, equality, and minority racism. Anyone familiar with contemporary school and college curricula can hardly fail to detect a theological tone in much of the subject matter. Whatever else they may be, political science lectures are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from sermons.

No attack on American education - not even the bombings, the schoolyard drug traffic, or the incredible vandalism - has been as shattering as school desegregation. The 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka may some day be ranked as the Fort Sumter of the Second American Civil War. Although the Constitution says nothing about education, the Court ordered the desegregation of all public schools on the ground that segregation denies equal opportunities to minorities. Even if school facilities were equal - as some were, but most were not - the very fact of separation, in the Court’s view, was generating in black children ‘a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in ways unlikely ever to be undone.’ The Court built its case on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

In reaching its decision the Court took judicial notice of sociological evidence that had not been heard in the lower courts and that was introduced during the hearings by a legal technicality known as the ‘Brandeis brief.’ Normally, appeals courts do not permit the injection of new facts or new evidence. But Brandeis, when a Supreme Court Justice, broke this longtime precedent by encouraging the admission of briefs containing materials which he considered unquestionable and not openly prejudiced against either side of the dispute. As it turned out, the ‘Brandeis brief’ heard by the Supreme Court in Brown was simply the repetition and elaboration of the liberal-minority thesis of racial equalitarianism. The genetic aspect of the argument and the effect of integration on the education of white children were totally ignored. The defense was permitted no ‘scientific’ rebuttal.

Because desegregation led to social mixing of whites and Negroes, resistance to the Supreme Court’s ruling flared up immediately in the South. It took longer to develop in the North, where de facto segregation in the ghetto areas gave authorities the chance to look the other way. In both the North and South, however, integration meant abandoning the concept of the neighborhood school, since it could only be accomplished by the educational gerrymandering of entire school districts and by forced busing. Once such steps were undertaken or considered seriously by local school boards, the North often became more uncooperative and hostile than the South.

School desegregation, slowed by massive white noncompliance, has provoked a white exodus to the suburbs. In the birthplace of integration, Washington, D.C., the public school system is now almost entirely black. Although it might be expected that the government sponsors of desegregation would at least make a pretense of doing what they are trying to force others to do, there are only a very few authenticated cases of highly placed white members of the executive, legislative, or judicial branches sending their own children to desegregated public schools.

Preliminary to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Bakke case, it was shown that less qualified black and Hispanic applicants to the Medical School of the University of California at Davis had been accepted and much more highly qualified white applicants had been rejected. The learned justices admitted this was wrong but did agree that race could be taken into consideration by the admissions boards of institutions of higher education. As a result, these boards pursue the same racial admissions policy as before, although they are now careful not to rely on fixed quotas, preferring to call them goals. Flying directly in the face of the Constitution, the Supreme Court had made race a factor in college admissions.

In the once all-white schools where about half of the nation’s Negro pupils are now enrolled, the results have been far from gratifying. Students of each race have tended to adopt the worst customs, habits, morals, and speech of the other. Bright pupils, black and white, have either left or attempted to leave, and in many schools all social activities have had to be abandoned. Classroom violence and vandalism have reduced the quality of education as much as they have raised its costs (about $181 billion in 1980-81).

The steady decline of national averages of the Scholastic Aptitude Tests taken by millions of college applicants is a dramatic example of what has happened. In 1962 the national average for the SAT verbal was 478; in 1979-80, 424. The national average for the SAT math test dipped from 502 to 466 in the same period. Anyone with the faintest understanding of racial differences in intelligence could have predicted these results, but the experts came up with every reason except the true one. The decrease in these examination scores over half a century was almost exactly proportional to the decrease in the percentage of Majority members taking the test.

The mixing of white children with blacks two to three years behind them in educational level and fifteen to twenty points lower in I.Q. scores has not only substantially slowed the progress of students as a whole, but increased the number of dropouts by pressuring Negro students to perform beyond their ability. The celebrated Jensen study, which claims that heredity accounts for about 80 percent of individual I.Q. variations, concluded that Negro pupils, while as adept as whites in rote learning, are much less adept in cognitive learning. Although these findings clearly call for different curricula for black students, the drive for nationwide educational conformity goes forward unabated.

To help them ‘catch up,’ Negro students are frequently promoted on the basis of age, not achievement, with the result that some students with a third-grade reading level are found in the ninth and tenth grades. As for higher learning, only about one-half of black high-school graduates are fully capable of handling a college curriculum. Once they get to college, Negroes may be given two grades higher than whites for the same work. One professor has been known to pass everyone in his class because he will not fail a Negro student. This same two-tier grading system is applied by other teachers to forestall accusations of racial prejudice. The envy, frustration, distrust, and cynicism aroused by such practices, including widespread cheating, are more noticeable in those universities and colleges which, in their race to enroll Negroes, have dropped their traditional entrance requirements. Minorities are now insisting this practice become universal and actually closed down City College of New York to enforce their demands. Mayor John Lindsay and his Board of Education surrendered, and an open enrollment policy for City College was begun in 1970. Any New Yorker who finished high school, no matter what his grades, was qualified to enter. In 1978, after City College had become an academic monstrosity, the door was partially closed on open enrollment. High-school graduates with mathematics and reading skills below the eighth-grade level were excluded!

Admission to college without proper academic credits is a new idea in American education. If pursued, it could lead to certain complications, particularly in the area of scientific studies. If students can enter college with insufficient preparation, will they then be given degrees even though failing most of their courses? And if given such degrees, can they then use them to obtain employment designing skyscrapers, bridges, and aircraft? The answers have a direct bearing on national security, since Soviet engineers are still awarded degrees on the basis of their grades, not their race.

The Negro invasion of American education has brought with it Black Studies programs, which teach minority racism in classrooms where Majority racism is forbidden. But the injection of minority racism into college and high-school curricula is not exclusively the work of Negro groups. Jewish and Hispanic organizations are also on the lookout for ‘racial slights’ in courses and textbooks which do not elaborate fully on minority contributions to American history or on the persecution of minorities abroad. At their insistence, which often borders on outright coercion, many such textbooks have been rewritten, and more have been replaced. Concurrently, public educational facilities have been put at the disposal of minority groups for research projects highly critical of Majority institutions.

Although minorities generally supported the British or were neutral in the War of Independence, a reading of recently published school and college texts would indicate that without minority assistance Americans might now be swearing allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II. Crispus Attucks has become such an important figure in American history that an illustrated child’s history of colonial times gives him more space than George Washington. Haym Salomon, a Polish-born commission merchant, is another recently discovered minority ‘hero’ of American independence and has been awarded an article under his own name in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, although he was more than once welcomed behind the British lines. On the other hand, those Negroes in the War of Independence who supplied British warships off the Southern coast and who remained on board as volunteers arc seldom featured in the ‘new history.’

Whatever may be said about American education, its present state is a far cry from the 1660s when the entire student body and faculty of Harvard conversed freely in Latin. It is an even further cry from the onetime disciplined earnestness of Western education as summed up by the Latin admonition with which Winchester School greeted its new pupils six centuries ago, Aut disce aut discede; manet sors tertia caedi. There was an air of Melville’s Benito Cereno about the armed band of black militants who occupied Cornell University’s student union center for thirty-four hours and then marched out, guns at the ready, to receive a general amnesty from administration and faculty. There was an air of surrealism about Princeton making Brent Henry a trustee after the twenty-one-year-old Negro senior had distinguished himself in the seizure of a campus building.

If the purpose of education is the transmission of culture, as the greatest modern poet has opined, then the duty of educators is the safeguarding of culture. Here the failure of American education is most glaring. One of the many instances of this failure is the career of Dr. Hsue Shen-tsien. With the help of scholarships paid for in part by the American government, Dr. Hsue received his master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. He then returned to his homeland where he was put in charge of the design and production of rocket systems for Red China’s new H-bombs.

The concept of American education as a denationalized data bank whose deposits belong to everyone and should be passed on by everyone to everyone is not very realistic - especially in a world where most nations have a totally different idea of the learning process. The Communist countries hold to the old-fashioned view that the job of education is to strengthen the state and that all instruction, a Marxist synonym for indoctrination, should ultimately be directed toward that end. This attitude is essentially Aristotelian (Politics, 1337), in spite of what the heirs of Lenin may say, and is shared by those members of American minorities whose cry for special educational opportunities is really a demand for power, not learning for learning’s sake.

The Soviet Union coddles its minorities or non-Russian nationality groups by giving them their own schools and universities where they may pursue the study of their history and literature in their native languages. No matter what his origin, however, every student must take the same required basic courses in Marxism-Leninism, in line with the dictum of the Eighth Party Congress (1919) that Russian schools be transformed into a ‘weapon of the Communist rebirth of society.’ Aside from this political indoctrination, applied sciences and vocational training are given preference over academic subjects in the Soviet educational system. One consequence has been that the U.S.S.R. claims to have many more scientists and engineers than the United States. The teachings of Freud, which have assumed such importance in the American educational process, are hardly known in Russia.

There are some who ascribe the crisis in American education to the generation gap, a social phenomenon which has always existed to some extent in fragmenting societies. But in contemporary America the gap is more publicized than real. Those who do fit the description of belonging to an alienated younger generation have not so much turned, as been turned, against their parents -- often by minority intellectuals old enough to be their grandfathers. It was the septuagenarian German refugee philosopher, Herbert Marcuse (1907-79), who gave most of the ideological impetus to that segment of the teaching profession which seeks not only to set Majority students against their families, but also against their history, their institutions, their race, and even against themselves. Having decided that revolution is no longer possible according to the old Marxist formula of class war, Marcuse proposed building a new revolutionary base on an alliance of students and blacks. He further proposed withdrawing the Constitutional right of free speech from those advocating war, racism, exploitation, and brutality. Another equally venerable, equally professional, and equally Jewish leader of ‘revolutionary youth’ is George Wald of Harvard, born in 1906.

In spite of intensive brainwashing by their Marcusean-minded social science departments, 22 percent of American college students were not afraid to identify themselves in 1970 as ‘right of center.’ It was obviously not this group that provoked the campus violence that descended on the country. Nor was it always the radical students. Students did not seize a New York University computer and threaten to destroy it unless $100,000 was given to the Black Panthers. It was, according to the New York District Attorney, the act of two minority professors, Robert Wolfe and Nicholas Unger. A student shotgun did not shoot down a judge in San Rafael, California, in an abortive courtroom kidnapping. It had been bought two days previously by black philosophy instructor, Angela Davis, whom Marcuse had described as his ‘best’ pupil. It was not the student body as a whole which turned the University of California at Berkeley, once the pride of American public education, into an intellectual skid row. It was a mindless clique of nonstudents, minority students, dropouts, radicalized faculty members, and spineless administrators.

It is not difficult to find a better explanation than the generation gap for the change that has come over American education. In the year preceding the student deaths at Kent State, minority enrollment in Midwest colleges jumped 25 percent. The faculty at Harvard, one of the greatest centers of unrest and agitation, is now ‘dominated by Jews’ and 15 to 25 percent of the faculty or other leading universities are Jewish. Jews now comprise 25 percent of the undergraduates at Harvard, 18 percent at Yale, 15 percent at Princeton, and 40 percent at Columbia.

By way of summarizing the present state of American learning, one point should be stressed. Like established institutions everywhere, the American system of education was the outgrowth of a specific concrescence of people, environment, and history. To suppose this system would function efficiently, or at all, under different conditions and for different ethnic groups is asking man to construct timeless macrocosms out of ephemeral microcosms. A multiracial state, especially one which both permits and advocates cultural pluralism, would seem to require a multiracial educational program, not only because population groups differ in learning capacities but because they differ in learning goals. To force-feed minority and Majority students alike on a thin, curricular soup of one part liberal dogma, one part Majority belittlement, and one part minority mythology is to provide little educational nourishment for anyone.

Some Negro separatists, to the confusion and dismay of black and white desegregationists, call for more, not less, educational segregation so they can more fully develop their racial and cultural identity. Acceding to this proposal could lead to the establishment of separate schools and colleges for all Unassimilable Minorities, who by definition can never be assimilated by education or any other means. This would formalize the apartness of all such minorities and at the same time penetrate the assimilationist disguise of some. In any event, such a measure could not help but give Majority education a new lift by removing it from the control of its detractors and despoilers.

All in all, the great failure of a heterogeneous school system remains its inability to stress effectively the morale-building aspects of education. There is no higher incentive for learning than the self-esteem that flows spontaneously from the awareness of a great past - an awareness that does not come from guidelines published by the Department of Education or from sterilized textbooks designed to please everyone and educate no one.

The kind of learning that prepares a people to prevail and endure must be primed by centuries of common history and millennia of common ancestry. Desegregation kills it by destroying its binding force -- the homogeneity of teacher and pupil. The disappearance or this vital bond from the American classroom may prove to be the greatest educational tragedy of all.

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