- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 31, 2003

Classical ‘luxuries’

“The most obvious difference between American college graduates of 1903 and those of 2003 is that the former knew Latin and the latter know, more or less, nothing. …

“In 1819, Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Brazier, expressed gratitude to his father for providing him with a classical education:

“‘Among the values of classical learning, I estimate the luxury of reading the Greek and Roman authors in all the beauty of their originals. And why should not this innocent and elegant luxury take its preeminent stand ahead of all those addressed merely to the senses? I think myself more indebted to my father for this than for all the other luxuries his cares and affections have placed within my reach; and more now than when younger, and more susceptible of delights from other sources. When the decays of age have enfeebled the useful energies of the mind, the classic pages fill up the vacuum of ennui, and become sweet composers to that rest of the grave unto which we are all sooner or later to descend.’”

Thomas Fleming, writing on “America’s Classical Tradition,” in the September issue of Chronicles

Paper certificates

“Too often parents have believed the official state slogan, ‘You need to be a certified teacher in order to teach.’ That is nonsense, and one need only look at the failure of the public school system to see how ‘well’ those thousands of certified, degreed, experienced administrators and teachers have failed America. That system of ‘educated professionals’ has hurt the American people so severely that millions of individuals, and our nation, may never recover. …

“Certainly loving, committed parents can educate their children better than the State is doing. Children being homeschooled by parents who are focused; who willingly sit and learn with their children; who mediate experiences and information; are far better off than the children in most public schools in America. …

“Parents do not need to ‘know everything’ in order to homeschool. … Bring your children home, but do it with forethought, planning, and a commitment to provide the best education possible. Homeschooling is hard work, but it is most rewarding.”

—Linda Schrock Taylor, writing on “Ready … Set Homeschool!” Wednesday at www.lewrockwell.com

Defiant decade

“There has long been a prevailing view that the 1950s culture was all Walt Disney movies, McCarthyism, and ‘Ozzie and Harriet.’ In this view, the ‘50s were a time of unprecedented social conformity and suppression of all attempts toward individualism and self-expression. It was an inexplicable irony, then, that the generation of young people who grew up in this culture should have developed into the most rebellious, antinomian group of people in quite some time: the ‘60s Baby Boomers.

“Such a huge and puzzling irony, however, should instill a suspicion that the premise is wrong, that the ‘50s culture was not quite what it has been portrayed to be. … Far from being a hotbed of conventionality, the American culture of the ‘50s in fact did much to promote individualism, self-expression, egalitarianism, and a widespread reaction against mindless conformity.

“In the movie theaters, for example, ‘The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit,’ ‘Rebel Without a Cause,’ ‘On the Waterfront, ‘The Wild One,’ ‘Giant,’ … ‘East of Eden,’ ‘Twelve Angry Men,’ ‘The Long, Hot Summer,’ and countless other such films depicted the nation’s political, social, and religious authorities as corrupt, incompetent, and ineffectual. The solution: individualism. … Even wise old Jiminy Cricket, in the popular Disney film ‘Pinocchio,’ exhorted … ‘let your conscience be your guide.’”

S.T. Karnick, writing on “Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes,” Wednesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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