Gnomicon 196

If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.

Gnomicon  196
Saturday 24 November 2012
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Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.
G. K. Chesterton(29 May 1874 – 14 Jun 1936)

If this is true (and it probably is), then we are definitely headed for a soulless society.  I obviously have my own troglodyte notions about all of this, and I have by now pretty much given up on capturing the serious attention of anybody with sufficient clout to do anything about my legitimate (in my view!) carping.

After all, who is going to listen to antediluvian rants calling for such ‘creativity-destroying’ regimens as requiring students from the first grade on to [gasp!] memorize multiplication tables, dates, grammar, poems, vocabulary – not to mention to not split infinitives!  And in an educational universe where it at times appears that the only operative criteria for any kinds of standards have devolved into a mere lazy question of de gustibus, who could be taken seriously who’d like to see irrelevant subjects like Latin reintroduced into the curriculum at an early age?

Of course, every coin has two sides, and the opposite side of this one is, simply, does it even matter?  Is it really important to know the multiplication table?  Are you less of a person because you don’t?  There are, after all, good calculators to be had for about the price of a heavy meal at MacDonald’s, and some of them will even do printouts of your calculations.

As for a Latin-based (much less a Greek-based) vocabulary of modern English, who wants the tedium of text-messaging words like that whn u cn abbrv vrything?  And if you get stuck, there is always that latest Apple-phone where – to save on burdening your memorization skills – you’ve programmed in all the numbers you’re ever going to need for doing your daily business.

And your computer linked to the net has more information available at your fingertips than the entire Library of Congress holds, so why bother learning stuff you can just look up with a few petty pokes of your petite stylus?

The more I go on here, the more I start to convince myself that Chesterton had no idea of what was to come just a few generations after he died, and indeed — on the basis of his opinion above — maybe just as there isn’t all that much education from yesterday’s generation passed on to today’s, so there may not be all that much “soul” of today’s society to pass on from the current generation to the next.

The logical inference might then be that as more and more ‘soul’ is leached out of society, tomorrow’s society will become increasingly soulless.

Yes, “might be”!

But surely the point is that “soul” in the sense that the word is being used here is not a Platonic immutable forever identical:  maybe each generation simply redefines what its “soul” is, and one should not carp simply because things are different.

Still and all though, I don’t believe that my tendentious notion of brining Latin back into the curriculum would be all that destructive to creativity and learning.

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One Response to Gnomicon 196

  1. Al Cram says:

    We have trouble motivating students to learn English, not much hope we can get many to learn Latin. Of course there will always be a few brilliant and inquisitive individuals and those are likely to do well in the world, I hope.

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