“The public school system: Usually a twelve year sentence of mind control. Crushing creativity, smashing individualism, encouraging collectivism and compromise, destroying the exercise of intellectual inquiry, twisting it instead into meek subservience to authority.” —Walter Karp
I remember discussing this topic with one of my favorite teachers, Petre Anghel. He once said:
– After all teaching is one of the most ‘conservative’ human endeavors. Not only that it endows the young with a wealth of information but it also means teaching them useful time proven survival strategies.
– Traditions, my son (I was 45 at that time), are nothing but time proven survival strategies. Yet at the same time we, teachers, have an immense responsibility. Besides passing over traditions and the ability to take orders we need to teach you how to adapt those traditions if life demands it. And this is where the real conservatism is. How to determine that a change is really necessary and how to implement it with minimum side effects needs a hefty dose of humility. Implementing wholesale discretionary change and then ‘training’ everybody into submission is not that hard, even Lenin and Stalin were able to pull this stunt, but what does this mean to the society, in the long run?
On the other hand the institutionalized education system, be it public or private, is an immensely powerful tool in the hands of the current generation. When using it “this” generation should be aware that power implies responsibility. The psychological conviction that ‘my way is the best way’ is understandable. After all if it weren’t good enough we wouldn’t have been here to pester the new generation with our advice: ‘this is how things should be done!’. Yet we should always remember how it was when we were growing up and how we rebelled against our parents. The mere fact that we have less children than our parents did and hence it’s easier for us to dominate them by sheer numbers doesn’t mean anything has changed, each generation defines itself ‘against’ the old one.
If the old one is wise enough to understand that, to let go, to encourage the next generation to experiment – just as the eagles encourage their young to fly away from the nest – after a while the ‘hatchlings’ will come back to the nesting ground for further instructions, to take care of their old and eventually to build their own nest and to continue the tradition. But while gone away they would have learned new skills and discovered new things so they’ll be able to adapt that tradition if needed.
If the old generation insists in keeping a tight leash the rambunctious will leave anyway, but never to return, and the old nesting ground will be left with the frightful and the meek to try to continue their parents work. It’s up to us to decide which way we want it to be.
It’s our children’s future at stake here, and ours too, so we’d better take care.