The Parlous State of U.S. Education
6 January 2005
[From Instauration, December 1996]
The American educational system is sometimes said to be in crisis. Yet for decades now teachers haven't taught, and students haven't learned, grammar, math, science and foreign languages. European and East Asian youths outdo our own by any academic standard. Even the "three R's" that our forebears, in all their homespun modesty, aspired to teach have given way in most classrooms to the "three I's": indolence, ignorance and immorality. That's not crisis. It's rigor mortis.
The American educational system, to put it bluntly, doesn't educate. It is only a system insofar as it serves the grosser economic needs of big business, big labor and the "education" industry itself. It is American chiefly in that word's ignobler connotations: egalitarian, utilitarian, traditionless.
Instaurationists are not the only Americans who decry the progressive deformations that warp and wound education, not the only ones who decry the depredations of the multiculturists, the incursions of the integrationists and the maunderings of the sex educators. Yet the sad reality is that an American education system worthy of the name -- insofar as it ever existed -- expired decades ago, in the triumph of the American public high school as incubator of mediocrity.
Those who strive to save the American system of education are guarding a mummified corpse, and not very well, as the vermin's nibbling at the mummy's leathery skin and the grave robbers' frequent plunder of its scattered accoutrements make plain.
There's worse news. The mummy won't be repaired, let alone revived, by any, or all, of the nostrums advocated by white "conservatives," such as "home schooling" (particularly that brand based on Old Testament mythology), "neighborhood schools" (incubators of intellectual dry rot) and the day care centers to depress wages -- except those of the abecedarians. The "back to basics" movement is embodied in bowdlerized, stultifying primers and textbooks. "Vouchers" to replicate the failings of the public schools in slightly safer, somewhat cleaner surroundings are no solution. "White studies," aping "Black studies," by reducing Leif Ericson and Isaac Newton to doublets of Matthew Henson or Sojourner Truth are meritless.
By and large, Americans don't understand education. We have long understood training, however, as horrors like the abandonment of phonics and the disaster of the "new math" have shown. Even ensuring the inculcation of learning's rudiments seems lately beyond our powers.
Granted, reasons for this are rooted in our national character. Usefulness -- the sooner the better -- has been a principal American criterion from early Yankee days. By the standards of any civilized society, Americans have been an egalitarian bunch and we've been quick to scorn the patina of the old but proven for the dazzle of the transient but new.
Now that we've jettisoned the ancient foundations of education, we find ourselves fumbling with its more recent exigencies. From an aristocratic republic we've fallen to a "democracy" of classes which, however much their differences are determined by hereditary disparities in intellect or acquired divergences in schooling, offer a dismal prospect in nobility of mind and character up and down the line. A fading aristocracy has gone increasingly to Bohemian seed. Its timocratic supplanters, among them many a minority Midas, have entirely turned their attention to tax-avoiding, Aryan-bashing "philanthropy." A class of managers and "professionals" has taken over, people whose technical skills are belied by pedestrian intellects, plebeian tastes and servile "hobbies" that would have shamed the manumitted slaves who often clothed similar positions in immperial Rome. Festering beneath all this, from receptionsist's desks to trailer courts, is a vast football-watching, television-addled, pop music-drugged, lottery-ticket-purchasing intellectual proletariat.
What sort of education is worthy of a great nation? Real learning has intrinsic value, though it is seldom immediately "practical." Mastering mathematics, the natural sciences, and grammar and composition in the classical languages provide mental exercise and substantive attainment unmatched by the smattering of facutal lore, novels and poems, and "parlay voo fransay?" that have replaced it over the past century, even at leading "prep schools."
As our ancestors knew, some men are cut out for leaders and scholars; some for soldiers; many more for workers and tradesmen. Today a differential schooling that opens a real education to gifted pupils from the less monied classes, as well as allowing their less able "peers" (of all origins) to have done with pretending to learn chemistry or Spanish, and acquire workaday skills, would profit all but the current "education" industry.
Men mold boys; women girls. NEA-style schoolmarms of either sex need not apply. Most schooling before college should be separated by sex.
Reading and the rudiments of writing in English, as well as numbers, including various easy but useful algorithms, can often be taught better at home.
Mental as well as physical toughness, a sharp critical sense, a mastery of facts worth knowing, the acquisistion of truth about oneself and the world, a sense of honor and the ability to cultivate these traits of character and intellect throughout the rest of life are the minimum return the young scholar, his parents and the nation should demand of an educational establishment in which vast effort, vast time and vast sums of money have been invested.
The instauration, in the nuanced sense of that admirable word, of such an education involves, perforce, the restoration of what is still of value in the long tradition of our race. But a new foundation is also needed to incorporate what is of value in the latest scientific findings and technological attainments.
Don't look for an educational instauration worthy of the real American Nation -- the current USA's minority of sentient whites -- soon. Its demands would rock the existing edifice of state and nation, let alone the schools, colleges, textbook committees and teachers unions.
But on one issue there can be no compromise. If every external or internal enemy of our race disappeared tomorrow, the continued existence of an educational system that fails to nurture grandeur of mind and spirit would be an abomination to any nation with a claim to greatness -- and such a nation we must become, once more.
So quit the mummy's tomb, but hold on to your spear. The struggle for a paideia that merits comparison with that of Athens, for schools on whose playing fields Waterloo was won, for schools that educated our forebears will be hard fought and only worthily won.