THE UNDERGROUND
GRAMMARIAN

Volume Three, Number Eight............November 1979

The Answering of Kautski

Why should we bother to reply to Kautski? He would reply to us, and we would have to reply to his reply. There's no end to that. It will be quite enough for us to announce that Kautski is a traitor to the working class, and everyone will understand everything.

Nikolai Lenin

TYRANNY is always and everywhere the same, while freedom is always various. The well and truly enslaved are dependable; we know what they will say and think and do. The free are quirky. Tyrannies may be overt and violent or covert and insidious, but they all require the same thing, a subject population in which the power of the word is dulled and, thus, the power of thought occluded and the power of deed brought low. That's why Lenin's bolshevism and American educationism have so much in common.

"Give me four years to teach the children,'' said Lenin, "and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.'' He wasn't talking about reading, writing, and arithmetic. He wanted only enough of such skills so that the workers could puzzle out their quotas and so that a housebroken bureaucracy could get on with the business of rural electrification. Our educationists call it basic minimum competency, and they hope that we'll settle for it as soon as they can cook up some way of convincing us that they can provide it. For Lenin, as for our educationists, to "teach the children'' is to "adjust'' them into some ideology.

Lenin understood the power of that ready refuge from logical thought that is called in our schools the "affective domain,'' the amiable Never-never Land of the half-baked, to whom anything they name "humanistic'' is permitted, and of whom skillful scholarship and large knowledge are not required. Lenin approved of the "teaching'' of values and the display, with appropriate captions, of socially acceptable "role models.'' He knew all too well the worth of behavior modification. He knew that indoctrination in "citizenship'' is safer than the study of history, and that a familiarity with literature is not conducive to the wholehearted pursuit of career objectives in the real-life situation, or arena.

On the other hand, Lenin knew that there was little risk that coherent thought could erupt in minds besieged by endless prattle about the clarification of values. He knew that reiterated slogans can dull even a good mind into a stupor out of which it will never arise to overthrow the slogan-makers. In this, our educationists have followed him assiduously, justifying every new crime against freedom of language and thought by mouthing empty slogans about "quality education.''

"Most of the people,'' Lenin wrote, not in public, of course, but in a letter, "just aren't capable of thinking. The best they can do is learn the words.'' If that reminds you of those bleating sheep in Animal Farm, try to forget them, and think instead of the lowing herds of pitiable teacher-trainees, many of whom began with good intentions and even with brains, singing for their certificates dull dirges of interpersonal interaction outcomes enhancement and of change-agent skills developed in time-action line. Lenin's contempt was reserved for the masses. These educationists, pretenders to egalitarianism, hold even their own students in contempt, offering them nothing but words.

If you think it too rash to charge our educationists even as unwitting agents of tyranny and thought control, consider these lines from a recent proclamation of the Association of California School Administrators:

"Parent choice'' proceeds from the belief that the purpose of education is to provide individual students with an education. In fact, educating the individual is but a means to the true end of education, which is to create a viable social order to which individuals contribute and by which they are sustained. "Family choice'' is, therefore, basically selfish and anti-social in that it focuses on the "wants'' of a single family rather than the "needs'' of society.

So what do you think? Would it suit Lenin?

And if you'd like to object, you'll see that these people also know how to answer Kautski. They'll just pronounce you an elitist, and everybody will understand everything.

Pontiffs and Peasants

UNLIKE socialism, the realm of educationism was never meant to be a classless society. Just now it's an emasculated feudalism whose few surviving pugnantes have decided to settle down with the unholy but happy Saracens, leaving the miserable laborantes to fend for themselves under the silly governance of the puffed-up orantes. The go-getter, self-promoting grant-grabbers have all wangled themselves cushy consultancies and juicy jobs in government. The wretched tillers of the soil are hoeing hard rows in the public schools and risking life and limb in the cause of minimum competence. The jargon-besotted clergy are bestowing upon each other rich benefices of experiential continua and peddling cheap remediational indulgences, fighting to keep their teacher-training academies growing in an age of closing schools and dwindling faith in bold innovative thrusts in non-cognitive curriculum design facilitation. Fat flocks, fat shepherds. Things do look bad, but let us not despair. The Black Death has been reported in Arizona, and it may yet spread.

It's not always easy to tell the pontiffs from the peasants. The sumptuary laws no longer apply. In the time of love-beads, both classes wear love-beads; in the time of Levi's, Levi's. Our best clue--always the best clue when we want to assess the work of the mind--is the language used by each class, Lumpensprache by the peasants and Pfaffesprache, a classier lingo indeed, by the pontiffs.

Here's a typical passage of the latter as it appeared, unfortunately without attribution, in an otherwise splendid column by Howard Hurwitz, a syndicated writer on education:

These instructional approaches are perhaps best conceived on a systems model, where instructional variables (input factors) are mediated by factors of students' existing cognitive structure (organizational properties of the learner's immediately relevant concepts in the particular subject field); and by personal predispositions and tolerance toward the requirements of inference, abstraction, and impulse control, all prerequisite to achievement in the discovery or the hypothetical learning mode."

So. It may mean that what a student learns depends on what he already knows and on whether or not he gives a damn. For a pontiff of educationism, that's already a novel and arresting idea, but if he said it in plain English he wouldn't be allowed to teach any courses in it. Indeed, if he could say it in plain English he would probably have enough sense not to say it, thus disclosing to the world that years of study have brought him at last to a firm grasp on the obvious.

Even when intoning the obvious, however, a pontiff keeps his head down. Did you notice that "perhaps"? He doesn't actually commit himself to the proposition that approaches are best conceived as a model where variables are mediated by factors; he is willing only to opine that approaches are perhaps best conceived as a model where variables are mediated by factors. If that were humility rather than self-defense, it would suit him well, for he seems to think that conceived means understood and that mediated means mitigated and that factors and variables can mean anything at all. He's not so good with semicolons either.

That point is important. Although inflated with fake erudition, Pfaffesprache always reveals, inadvertently, its roots in the vulgar, but usually honest, Lumpensprache. Thus we find in that passage the defensive errors of the ignorant, who always use too many modifiers and achieve thereby either redundancy or incoherence. There is no need to specify that a student's "disposition" is "personal" or to elaborate "subject" into "the particular subject field." We are not enlightened by hearing that a property is organizational or that the relevant is immediately relevant. "The hypothetical learning mode" tells us only that this pontiff is hazy about the meanings of "mode" and "hypothetical" and short on "learning."

The pontiff, of course, preaches what he practices in some teacher-training academy. Nevertheless, in spite of his baleful influence, many of his students do not adopt his ignorant babble. They cling faithfully to their own ignorant babble.

They become schoolteachers and compose "thought" questions for study guides: "What did the sculpture told the archologists?" They admonish parents: "Scott is dropping in his studies he acts as if don't care. Scott want pass in his assignment it all, he had a poem to learn and he fell to do it." When asked to demonstrate their own literacy, they go out on strike, demanding on the placards "quality educacion" and "descent wages."

Maybe you can't fool all of the people all of the time, but the pontiffs can fool all of the peasants forever. That accounts for the fact that the society of educationism is made up of two apparently dissimilar classes. Deep down where it really counts, they're equally less than minimally competent.

We can understand why the educationists defend so truculently that bizarre article of their faith which pronounces superior intelligence and academic accomplishment traits not suitable to schoolteachers. Well, they may have a good point there. There's more than enough violence in the schools already. If we were to send a bunch of bright and able students to study with the hypothetical learning mode pontiff, they'd ride him out of town on a rail and hurry back to burn down the whole damn teacher-training academy.

The Steaming Bird

THIS year's Steaming Bird Award must be sliced into enough portions to stuff the craws of the Curriculum Sub-Committee of the EPIC Steering Committee, whose members have cooked up a fine turkey basted with clusters and modules and garnished with the sequencing of modules within clusters. These folk are not so presumptuous as to say that they will teach anything, but only that students will be "exposed to experiences" and "involved in experiences," sometimes in experiences "concerning" something or other. (That's sort of understandable; the Bulgarian Immigrant's Phrase-Book does offer "I please to be involved in experience concerning toilet." "Exposed to" is also allowed.)

Where native speakers of English would have the EPIC student keep a journal, these languageless educationists want him to "maintain" and "organize" a "written" journal, condescendingly specifying what is implicit in "journal," and strangely not specifying that the student is to write the damn thing. He could meet this requirement by finding a written journal to "maintain" and "organize."

Having finished Cluster IV, Practitioner as Individual/Self, the EPIC student can sashay on over to Cluster V, Practitioner as Professional/Self as Professional. He will use nothing, but he will utilize materials. He will observe an "individual" child, not a plural one. He will "correctly name and relate to and of handicapping conditions as related to special education children." Figure that one out.

Then, having had one third of his "education" in our epical Cave of Winds, buffeted by pomposity and incoherence, he will go forth, duly certified to teach your children all about values.

Brief Notes

Thanks to a stupid blunder, we have in stock a massive supply of paper from which, as you see, the deckled edge has been carefully removed. We're sorry, and we're looking for a new Assistant Purchasing Agent.

Some readers have commented on what seemed a typo in September's brief note about President Crater's handsome gift to the NEA, a DOE of their very own. (Nevertheless, there may be but little truth to the rumor that he has also promised control of the Department of Justice to the Mafia.) It's not that simple.

That block of copy was set in type back in the summer, when our President returned in haste from the Orient and almost immediately disappeared. On the very same day--and of all the political analysts in America ours was the only one to notice this--Marie Osmund broke off her engagement. Our typesetter, naturally enough, was thinking about Judge Crater when he should have been thinking about President Crater. There. That should explain everything.

In last month's issue there was a double dagger () on "bottom priorities" but no footnote to go with it. The footnote was to have been a probing examination of the fundamental meanings suggested by that term. A rump session of the editorial board, hastily assembled by the conservative faction, thought the piece perhaps too coarse for this journal. They have decided to sit on it for a while

The Underground
Grammarian

Published monthly, September to May
R. Mitchell, Assistant Circulation Manager
Post Office Box 203
Glassboro, New Jersey 08028

Annual subscription: US & Canada, $10; others, $14

Neither can his mind be thought to be in tune,
whose words do jarre,
nor his reason In frame,

whose sentence is preposterous.


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