May 19, 2024

American > Prussian

Tangentially related to the 'kulturkamph' post from this morning is this fascinating piece by Joseph Moore over at Yard Sale of the Mind

He points out something that is often noted among critics of the American Education System in current year:

We used to have a MUCH more literate populace. 

In fact, we have seen a fairly consistent drop in overall literacy as the concern about education has resulted in greater and greater government (and especially federal) involvement in education. 

Libertarians and conservatives often bring up the period from the '50s to now with a strong scrutiny of the stark fall in education metrics that seems to have followed the creation of the Department of Education in the 1970s.

Moore however, takes a LONG view of the matter, noting that when one room schoolhouses were the norm, the U.S. literacy of its rank and file citizenry was remarkably high. 

One remarkable example he uses is the immense popularity of  James Fenimore Cooper's classic The Last of the Mohicans (1827) which was a runaway hit. He then quotes a paragraph from it....and notes....

I bet your average American college student would think it a slog, or even nigh unreadable. Cooper’s long sentences, nested clauses, adventurous vocabulary are likely to prove difficult. But they were not too difficult for Americans 200 years ago.

30 years earlier, the Federalist Papers and Anti-Federalist Papers, full of historical and classical references, were published in popular newspapers – and hundreds of thousands of people read them and talked about them. Papers in those days were not written to a 6th grade reading level, yet many, many people read them.

I've noted this myself on far more contemporary matters. Martin Luther King's Letter From a Birmingham Jail was required reading when I was in high school. Around 2018 however, I was told in college that it is not considered wise to assign that to a university student prior to their junior year. Letter From a Birmingham Jail was written in the 1950's on a 6th grade level by a preacher who intended it to be read by African American children. Amongst other things, it contains references to the Bhagavad Gita and yet it was widely comprehended in its day. 

On a more banal level, I've shown people copies of Mad Magazine from the 1980s. Young people often don't get half the jokes, which were quite replete with classical references, in a low brow magazine aimed mostly at kids. These are frightening trend lines in just MY lifetime. 

According to Moore, the huge dropoff in literacy seems to have begun at the end of WW1.  This allows us to blame Woodrow Wilson (which is always satisfying) but Moore gets granular with his analysis and notes the overall push for the adoption of the Prussian model of education about that time. The Prussian model is basically what we have today in our K-12 system. 

Interestingly the Prussian model was adopted in Germany at least in part to neuter federalism. Germany was unified by combining a large number of independent principalities in to what ostensibly was a federation. The Prussian educational model itself was intended to produce a population of competent but unthinkingly loyal soldiers (Prussian culture was a trauma response to the 30 years war). This did in fact,  successfully homogenize German culture, culling what were seen as eccentricities and organized society  along technocratic lines....which led ultimately

In the U.S. Prussian education was touted by industrialists, particularly J.D. Rockefeller as a way to educate an intelligent but pliable workforce that would not be concerned with troublesome things, like...I don't know....individual rights. 

President Wilson embraced this enthusiastically (the concept absolutely sings to the fascistic nature of a technocrat) and noted....

 "We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.”

...because yeah.....Wilson appears to have been a villain that escaped from a young adult novel. 

In Moore's article, he notes that the decline in literacy was documented by U.S. Military literacy tests starting in the early 1900s, and that it coincided with the professionalization of schools along Prussian (and to a much lesser extent Catholic) lines. 

Note that Prussian models CAN produce some useful results, Japan enthusiastically embraced it and by many metrics Japan's educational system is among the best in the world, however, the Prussian, regimented education system tends to produce conformity rather that freedom mindedness and I probably don't need to remind my readers that in Japan, like in then-contemporary Germany there

I urge you to read the article in its entirety. It is a fascinating read that reinforces the call by many to engage in home schooling. 

However, home schooling is very much out of the reach of many people as it requires time, (in short supply today) considerable money, AND a pretty comprehensive education by the parents. 

There might be a middle ground....AND WE'VE SEEN IT. 

Small 1-4 room schoolhouses SEEMED to get the best results on a macro level. So given the suburban nature of much of the U.S. I could easily see Co-ops growing up in residential subdivisions to set up schools like this similarly to the way the old schoolhouses were established in farming communities. The old system with people learning different levels simultaneously and older students mentoring younger students under the direction of a teacher worked very well. There ARE hurdles to this, not only from the education establishment but zoning boards and homeowners associations. However if we don't deal with those malign organizations eventually, we probably aren't going to save the country anyway. 

A more structured Prussian type model almost certainly works better for technical education, so there would still be a need for something like high school in the later teen years, but this model, that was so successful for over a century might be able to spread most of the benefits of home schooling to far more folks than have any hope of attaining it now. 

Anyway...I'm grasping at any lifeline that will stop us from falling into the abyss....What do you think? 

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September 11, 2023

The Day That Derailed The Future

This is the day that we remember the 3,000 civilians who died in an act of unspeakable terror, made possible by gross governmental negligence and which was used to justify a complete re-orientation of our national priorities and drive us into a cultural, economic, human rights, and military quagmire. 

The immense potential that the 20th century held has thus far not been realized aside from the dystopian visions of some sci-fi writers and the Cassandra-like warnings of Solzhenitsyn. 

It should forever be a reminder of the importance of vigilance, and the dangers of Government overreach. 

It should not be forgotten Mr. President. 

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October 25, 2022

Even Susan Sarandon Gets it

Gina Carano smiles.

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June 03, 2022

An Interesting Talk With Peter Zeihan

Shorter version: We in the U.S.A. are screwed like everyone else, but we are less screwed than anyone else and have a bit more time.  

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November 02, 2020

One More Day


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October 09, 2020

Chekov, Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn Look Down and Weep.... the chilling proof that they have, again, been unheeded. 

BLM/Antifa rioters march into the suburbs of Wauwatosa (Watch on Bitchute)

There's a lot of talk in certain circles about Civil War, most of it profoundly ignorant, on many different levels. For one thing, such a horrid event would not be cathartic, or cleansing, but rather would be a dreadful terrifying, cancerous waste of lives. Second, the U.S. has never had a real civil war, . "The Civil War" was, in reality, a failed secession, with the secessionists not trying to take over the country, but leave it. While this is hardly more than a semantic point to some, it meant that there were clearly defined geographical boundaries, and an intuitive understanding of the definitions of victory and defeat. 

What is shown in the video above is akin to a REAL civil war. The most applicable example of which might be the nightmare that befell Spain in the 1930s. I suggest you read about the Spanish Civil War....but not on a work night, for your sleep will be neither sound, nor in great quantity after you do so. 

Other actual Civil Wars had far worse outcomes than even that nightmare. 

The parallels to the seeming insanity of our own upper and upper middle classes with the the behavior of the minor nobility and upper middle class  in the last days of Tsarist Russia are sobering to say the least. They are completely unwilling to criticize even this pandemonium, lest it threaten their political purity and social standing. 

...and that was a thread I was going to expond upon until this morning, whence came news that a small group of smooth brains, allegedly opposed to the above suburban raiders had decided to play the left's game of Burn Loot and Murder....and then it became clear that...well not clear at all....'cause I have no IDEA who these numb-nuts are actually affiliated with. They certainly don't SEEM to be on team MAGA or team D. 

However, I would argue that, on balance, this ugly plot is actually not as worrying as the video above. That is because an attack on a public figure has been thwarted (something we should be able to, in a bi-partisan fashion rejoice over). But the attacks on ordinary citizens in their homes...for the crime of being middle class...was not responded to until well after the fact. 

In case your reading comprehension or my typing skills are lacking, I'm not suggesting that an assault on a public figure, even one as loathsome as Whitmer is in any way acceptable. I'm pointing out that, in a time of civil unrest, it is easier to protect a few politicians than the vast bulk of the unprotected populace from those who seek to do evil, and evil rarely attacks the most protected positions, leaving the citizenry to fend for themselves in this situation. And this situation is a very worrisome one indeed. 

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