Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cassiodorus Blog Spot, Higher Education

I am going to be switching most of my work over to this site:

This is in keeping with my life goals, at this point, which include starting up my own classical, latently-Christian, pro-Tradition college prep service (both online and in person). I had considered going into the tutoring business (like Wes Callihan and others), but am ultimately opting for something a little different, which falls in between psychological counseling & career guidance on the one hand, and Battle of Worldviews on the other. This arena is, I believe, a critical one, and not currently addressed on the Right, particularly in the field of education. 


Here are the facts:

Public universities are slowly going bankrupt:
Illinois has another looming financial crisis on its hands: the state's regional public universities, a door to upward mobility for tens of thousands of teens every year and the last reliable economic engine in parts of the state.
Some youngsters are already proposing the equivalent of "Guild-education" (with a degree based thereon).

Meanwhile, high name brand colleges are testing out better ways of offering education today: Online College Courses.

The liberal arts died out around 1950 (in the aftermath of World War II), but until recently, you were still expected to know basic subjects like economics, mathematics, and civic theory. I guess these are too "traditional", even though they are by-and-large taught from a progressive point of view.  Source. The very idea of having a Tradition (even if it is a Progressive "New Deal" One, based in consummate Lockean Liberalism) is now offensive or irrelevant. At what point does the war against "Mind-Control" itself become a much more insidious form of Psy-Ops?

Now, of course the dying Behemoth called the American Empire still discriminates in favor of its "Higher Education" model: a Harvard, Vassar, or Vanderbilt degree will get you a very long way, much farther, in fact than you could go without it (even being "the brightest and best"). And many job opportunities are denied to those without that "slip of paper" - this will continue to be this way for some time: until the wheels pop off & angry populations waiting in line take out their frustration however they are able.

Naturally, those esconced in the Ivory Towers disagree. This is hardly surprising. But what bland disagreement.

University education made sense in the Golden Age of Massed, Industrial Democracy (1850-1950). I guess. The Internet (along with continued deterioration of standards in the culture), has rendered the proposition of a certified 4-year bona fide increasingly suspect.

In the industrial model of student mass production, the teacher is the broadcaster. A broadcast is by definition the transmission of information from transmitter to receiver in a one-way, linear fashion. The teacher is the transmitter and student is a receptor in the learning process. The formula goes like this: "I'm a professor and I have knowledge. You're a student, you're an empty vessel and you don't. Get ready, here it comes. Your goal is to take this data into your short-term memory and through practice and repetition build deeper cognitive structures so you can recall it to me when I test you."... The definition of a lecture has become the process in which the notes of the teacher go to the notes of the student without going through the brains of either.

Ivan Ilyich (who has impeccably "Leftist" credentials) argued that Higher Education is inherently the opposite of what it claims to be. Now, while I don't buy his premises or conclusions in toto (Oxford with its dreaming spires arguably has not been accounted for by his ideology), he is certainly correct that the very idea of disseminating standardized, mass education (which leads upwards in a pyramid for those of "merit") is inherently stultifying to the Mind. Not even the Catholic, Apostolic, and Holy See of Rome attempted to do this in the darkest of the Dark Ages. Instead, the Western rite was modified and attenuated to various cultural circumstances, with different levels of participation, many of which were popular rites or cults (eg., the saints).

 “All over the world the school has an anti-educational effect on society: school is recognized as the institution which specializes in education. The failures of school are taken by most people as a proof that education is a very costly, very complex, always arcane, and frequently almost impossible task.”

Dear Reader, ask yourself : what is a Harvard degree really worth? On the one hand, sure, most of the smart set goes to an elite school like Harvard. But would they have failed financially and philosophically had they gone elsewhere, or just not gone? Of course not. They are going to do well wherever they go, because of their IQ (or maybe they wouldn't, without this last step, which is even more frightening). Because the HYPsters aren't getting educated at Yale and Princeton: they're being indoctrinated in the proper shibboleths they will need to get along with the new contacts they are making in the business and cultural landscape. You're paying your club dues when you attend these places. These are your credentials for being politically correct and culturally savvy. They also receive armament training in dialectics and proper revolutionary documents, so they can make themselves impervious to Reality. It's a kind of Neo-Marxist Good Ole Boys' Club, where "every-person" shares the same bathroom & the same Dogma.This has been the case since at least the 1960s student revolts at places like Columbia: "Under the paving stones, The Beach!". But a true liberal arts education had been ailing and faltering since at least the turn of the century, around 1900, when John Dewey and the Progressivists began to get good hold of the apparatus of instruction.

Today the entire educational system is part of an Iron Triangle called the Cathedral, designed to prop up the United States Government (USG) all across the globe. Sending your kid to Harvard, Yale, or Princeton (unless they get in free and are a chameleon), is an automatic waste of their soul. Without the moral and emotional equivalent of higher education to balance the hyper-trophy of the dialectical (and agnostic) intellectual center in a human being (aka, Tradition), the modern "intellectual" will end up just like a Soviet apparatchik. Insofar as this emotional/moral center exists in the university, it is simply an arm of the governing powers and ideologies, rather than an independent actor with access to "Higher Truth". So instead of balancing your child's soul-growth, it enhances the damage the intellectual studies are designed to do. Your child will not read Plato, they will study Nietzsche, and if they read Plato, they will read him with their brain, and analyze him into dissection in terms of the categories of Nietzsche. And this is the best-case scenario.

In fact, if you want your child to have a traditional liberal arts education in the Trivium & the Quadrivium, your best bet is to avoid the top-tier schools altogether. If you send them anywhere at all, get it paid for with scholarships or free grants, and go somewhere where the student will be free to quietly learn on their own, taking the classes which they need or wish. Better yet, commit yourself and your children (insofar as they will be inspired by your example) to a lifelong quest for Wisdom, and do whatever follows and flows from that. That's how the medievals founded the Universities in the first place.

Otherwise, instead of being whipped and shamed in front of the class for not knowing your Latin declensions, your child will be financially and/or socially discriminated against, for not knowing the proper Marxist categories of ultra-elite thought, and publicly shamed if they question them. We've come a long way Baby!

For those who wonder, with Chernychevsky, What is to be Done?, I suggest the following:

1. Support Christian Classical Education. It's not perfect, and has a long way to go, but it's a damn sight better than its competition.
2. Support your local Waldorf School. Rudolf Steiner is regarded as "weird" in America, but maybe we need more real "weird", and a little less of the actually bizarre. Favor the weird over the "new normal", which is bizarre.
3. Support Homeschoolers, even when they fail. Like England in 1940, they had the courage to go it alone.
4. Support private schools of almost any stripe, unless they are madrassahs.
5. Educate yourself about The Quadrivium.
6. Keep your brain turned on, your Mind alert, and your Soul perceptive.
7. Support private and/or Christian scholars.
8. Defer to Tradition, as a general rule.
9. Share Knowledge
10. Hoard Wisdom
11. Don't worry too much about the coming fall of the Leaning Ivory Tower of Orthanc: some things are just going to happen.
12. Put thought into what should replace The University.