language engenders clear thought, and clear thought is the most important
benefit of education."
Propositions Three and Seven "It was Jefferson's
dream that that civilization could best perpetuate itself in which
the citizens were 'educated,' whatever he meant by that, and we do
have some clue as to what he meant."
The End of the String "It
seemed to me that those teacher-trainers must be amiable and playful
folk with well-developed aesthetic sensibilities and a penchant for
drama, in bold contrast to the rest of us who taught what you call
'subjects,' dour and narrow people reciting lectures and devising
The Wundter of It All "There
is no counting the doctorates in education that have been awarded
to those who have done nothing more than tabulate the answers to questionnaires.
That such degrees are so common, however, is not only because the
work is easy, bad enough, but also because the supposed objects of
study often cannot be known directly. When they can, in fact, they
are obviously trivial. "
The Seven Deadly Principles "After
sober and judicious consideration, and weighing one thing against
another in the interests of reasonable compromise, H. L. Mencken concluded
that a startling and dramatic improvement in American education required
only that we hang all the professors and burn down the schools. His
uncharacteristically moderate proposal was not adopted."
The Principles March On "It
is fascinating, of course, to hear those who operate the schools argue
that because there are people who can build aircraft for profit and
cite law in their own cause we may conclude that the schools have
actually provided too much "excellence." What is even more
fascinating is that this bewildering and ignorant line of reasoning
should find, apparently, no detractors among the vast membership of
the National Education Association..."
The Pygmies Revenge "Peter's
well-known Principle was obviously discovered by a man who knew nothing
at all about schools. In schools it just isn't true that the people
who can actually do their jobs get promoted until they find themselves,
at last and forever, in the jobs they can't do. This is because the
most difficult and demanding jobs in education are what industry calls
"entry-level positions," teaching in classrooms."
Problem-Solving in the Content Area
"The problems and disorders in education have become more and
more visible in the last few years, of course, and even the ordinary
citizen who happens to have no children in the schools suspects that
something is very wrong, but he will never understand exactly what
is wrong until he realizes that all our educational problems and
disorders, none of which are new, although they are more
obvious, provide endless and growing employment for the people who
Every Three Second "Schools
do not fail. They succeed. Children always
learn in school. Always and every day. When their rare and
tiny compositions are "rated holistically" without regard
for separate "aspects" like spelling, punctuation, capitalization,
or even organization, they learn. They learn
that mistakes bring no consequences."
Afterword: Plus Ca Change "The
ideologues of educationism (fortunately for us, if we will pay thoughtful
attention) have so thoroughly given themselves to their disdain of
intellectual discipline that they always, and always
inadvertently, reveal some truth when they pretend to do the work
of the mind in writing."