Awaken the Lions! Fixing A Toxic System

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Part Three of Awake the Lions – Sorry for the Delay – A classical education defined our education system for thousands of years. This education system produced intellectual giants of Western Civilization that made advances and allowed us to build the greatest society that the world has ever known. In our current society we seem to be spiraling into chaos, a chaos made worse by the ignorance and arrogance produced by the glaring failure of our public education system which has all but abandoned the principles built up over thousands of years and called it ‘progress.’

It is interesting that we seem to think that we can ignore the past when one of the most effective means of teaching people to think and excel today is called the Socratic Method, a method originally developed by Socrates nearly 2300 years ago which he borrowed from Egyptian teachers who used it in previous centuries. Largely, the method is not used because it requires the teacher to be as quick thinking as his or her students and better read and experienced as well. These teachers of our past, used a system whose roots trace back through Medieval Universities, Roman and Greek schools, back through Egypt, and the Middle East for Western Civilization (and similar paths of development in the Far East). These teachers learned to bring out individual excellence and the great men and women of history were the result. Our society and education system produces … sameness. I remind you of the Gillian Lynne story in part two: [ ]

As noted in part two, before the industrial revolution we all created value and traded that value we created for the things we needed. The only true value is created by our labor and now we sell our time to create labor for others and not ourselves. Out of convenience, we created money to represent the labor so we could trade it. But money has developed its value and we have forgotten that the real value lies in our labor and creativity. Perhaps that is why our schools have failed so dramatically. Instead of teaching us how to make things that matter, to think, and be creative they are trying to teach us how to work and get a job. This helps our economy and the rich but does it serve us as a people? And does it serve our children? It certainly doesn’t help those who excel.

Previously, I had to cut out my story of how, before I was in first grade I had my sister read to me. I loved to be read to and I was a bit of a nuisance. She dropped a copy of the Hobbit in my lap and said here read this. When you can read the first page I’ll read you another story. I looked at the book, no pictures. I began sounding out words and going to her every sentence because it was way beyond me. She then showed me how to use a dictionary. Long story short I later got in trouble in school for reading the Hobbit because the teacher insisted I read “See Dick Run” for the half-hour reading instead of reading the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein. Note, that this wasn’t a kid’s book. It was the actual Hobbit. I delighted in my sister opening a whole new world to me that included the Lord of the Rings, the books of Edgar Rice Burrows, Heinlein, and so many others but I struggled with school forever after because they didn’t know what to do with me. In Junior High, I had permission to leave each Wednesday to go down to the University of NE by bus to participate in the Science Fiction Book Discussion Group because education was still more flexible than – as a parent I know it has lost this flexibility and students who are bored with education today – like my son – are prescribed drugs. Rather than drug the creativity out of my son – who they said had ADHD (the common diagnosis for bored, active children today) I homeschooled him. But I was too late. He already had come to hate school by the time I made that move. I talked about it for years and let grandparents and parents talk me out of it because people “had” to go to school. I will always regret I didn’t act sooner.

Jefferson said that when we no longer create value with our own hands we will lose our freedom. Now more and more regulations prevent us not only from starting our own businesses easily but restrict us from even eating any foods that have not been processed and manipulated through the great corporate machine. At each step, we are moved farther and farther away from our autonomy and self-sufficiency to being dependent on the machine of society. A machine that views humans as mechanisms created a society that uses education that doesn’t produce thinking humans but is simply training them for working in the system and not for truly living. Government-initiated education didn’t arise until after the industrial revolution and it has always concentrated on producing cogs for the machine. While classical education was about producing whole people, not cogs. Historically, education has a history of thousands of years but our public schools are only about a hundred years old and failing. Are they producing better results than classical education? [See: Who Stole Your Education ]

The giants of history, educated by a classical education, built the very foundations upon which our current world exists. People from all over the world sought to educate their children in the West. But now educators have broken this system in the name of progress. [See: ] But progress isn’t about change, it is not about abandoning the old because there were racists, misogynists, and others who had problems or did things we find objectionable today. Who among us doesn’t have their issues? And while individual issues are magnified in society to societal problems it would be surprising if earlier societies didn’t have problems. Our own time is beset by problems. Our current crisis in society and education may well come from trying to replace everything by wiping the historical slate clean and trying to put something new upon…nothing.

Our society and education have separated everything into subjects and specializations and divided everything up into unconnected bits to study. However, to truly advance we need to re-integrate those sciences with the knowledge that we live in a coherent universe (in the true sense of the word as creation being an integral organic whole,) it makes sense, it and we ourselves are subject to the laws of nature, and that we thrive in the very struggle for existence. In fact, in the Movie the Matrix they bring this out when they state that the computer originally made everything perfect and they lost huge “crops” of humans because humanity did not do well without something to strive against. There is psychological evidence that indicates part of the reason some of the current generations are so emotionally unstable and weak is that they were over-protected while being raised. When you add to that how our society cuts us off (especially in cities,) from the very rhythms of nature and nature’s laws that we evolved to live as part of. It is ridiculous to believe that we can live in a way that seems to say that a few hundred years of enlightenment erases hundreds of thousands of years of human interaction and millions of years of evolution. The life-truths and proverbs of the past are as valid for us as they were for the Romans, for Ben Franklin, and everyone in between. Scotty knew this years ago:

From Star Trek The Original Series

Instead of ignoring the history of hundreds of generations that went before us (because they were not perfect,) we need to build our future on the firm foundation of the things that were valuable before and helped us to develop the wonders of today’s world. Because we don’t exist in isolation we exist as a continuum from the very first humans on the plains of Africa to a species that now lives on every continent in this world. NOTHING that we have today grew up spontaneously, everything has been built on what has come before and the chaos in our society comes from the combined hubris of educators and influencers who believed they owe nothing to the past. In their hubris, they appear to believe their wisdom is greater than that accumulated by the wise men and women of nearly ten thousand years of cumulative human understanding and development. Classical Education was developed over thousands of years to meet the needs of humans who were genetically, biologically, and temperamentally like us. Men like Socrates, Cicero, Cato, and Copernicus and women like Phoebe (a Deacon of the Christian Church of Cenchrae that St. Paul entrusted his all-important letter to the church in Rome), and others like St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Theresa of Avila, who wrote their visions in the Middle-Ages. The list of exceptional people is too long to include any but a smattering. But the exceptional people of today (as pointed out in Part Two,) seem to have developed despite our factory-structured education system. A system that enforces mediocrity and obedience with drugs and punishment.

A major reform in education is necessary if we are going to build for the future and avoid spiraling into the chaos that appears to be developing all around us. Chaos is made worse by the staggering ignorance produced by the staggering errors of our education system. And we boomers like to think this problem started after us but the problems in Education (while they exploded in the 1960s) began 150 years ago with the Industrial Revolution and the restructuring of education throughout the Western world on a factory model. If we are to survive as a civilization we must connect our modern technology and development to the Life-Truths that humans identified and determined centuries ago, preserving those truths that have weathered the test of time, so that new generations don’t have to bumble around and start from scratch and recognizing the potential that rests in every one of us. Millions of people died in the past learning these laws and proverbs and if we completely ignore them millions more will die as we fumble around re-learning what was already known, had we only listened to the voices of the past.

Another thing we have changed is developing rules that deny our very biology. We are corporal creatures and our bodies were designed to move. A vast number of our health and education problems come from the fact that our bodies evolved in movement and the last forty years we have made it into the most stationary society that has ever existed. We did not evolve to live this way but in a society that denies the very balance of nature and nature’s laws, we shouldn’t be surprised that we are so far off track. For this reason, previous generations recognized that open play and activity were essential to education because we are physical animals. Our bodies were designed to move and be active. Our education system today is literally a human-denying structure that denies the very basics of human biology and the Life-Truths that used to be taught in our readings. All these have been cut out by modern, highly educated fools, that considered them useless.

Schools used to have a LOT of time for open play…for creativity. Our system is not only broken it is toxic, crushing the life out of our children to force them to conform. Our system hates wolves and lions it wants sheep who blindly obey, sit in their places, does what they are told, and blindly believe that somehow if they conform to the average they will excel.

Classical Education was about teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic but in so doing they also taught them how to live and to think for themselves. Schools taught people to think and to understand their place in the endless story that is history and that they could add meaning to that history. They used classic literature for teaching reading and civics so we understood what our society was about and had a coherent worldview to order that knowledge in a way that produced positive results. Such literature taught real values that have survived the test of time. Literature like Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Cicero, and more recently modern classics like J.R.R. Tolkein. It didn’t teach you what to think. It taught you the underlying principles of thought so that you could think for yourselves and make your own decisions based on the learned and accumulated wisdom of the past. That is one reason our system has survived so long. The founding fathers were well versed in the writings of the past and had studied the successes of Republics and the failures of Democracies.

Most educated people know that Ben Franklin wrote many wise sayings in his books and as such was considered a wise man. He brought many proverbs forward upon which to base American Wisdom. What fewer people know is that he came up with most of them by translating the Latin Proverbs of ancient Roman philosophers into English, updating them for his time, and putting them together in a book. SabersEdge in much the same way endeavors to take the life-truths of the past and translate them into the present so we can build a firm foundation in order to build a future where we can “boldly go where no one has gone before.”

We are not going to get a Leonardo DaVinci, Michael Angelo, Isaac Newton, Marie Curie, or Ben Franklin out of our education system today because it seeks to produce a standardized, mediocre result fit only fit for working for someone else’s factory or corporation. Only those who have gone beyond their conditioning can excel and become entrepreneurs. Tim Pool is not successful because of his formal schooling but because of the practical education he received in life. Elon Musk said that in some ways, the longer you stay in the education system the less capable you are.

Please note that I say this as someone who loves the academic life and has over a thousand volumes in my personal library of history, religion, science, and political-military studies. But I have interspersed my study with being a Cavalry Scout doing Recon in the US Army, graduating from Drill Sergeant Academy at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri, being a Counterintelligence Special Agent, working for Pinkerton’s Security, being a Security Director for a site of a major pharmaceutical company, writing, being a pastor, earning a Master’s Degree and exploring Doctoral Studies. I have not spent my life in “an ivory tower” and have not been deluded by my own theories while never putting anything into practice as too many of our “experts” have. I always thought I would retire and then teach at university but universities are a travesty compared to what they used to be so I am here.

Too many in our society, and too many institutions, consciously or not, treat others as humans simply cogs in a machine. Or they place them in a box of presuppositions in their mind and become angry if they try to climb out. Instead of treating them as divinely created whole beings that cannot be replaced by machines our society approaches humans as if they ARE machines but we are not. We are life forms, each one unique and deserving of an education as personalized as the ones that created the great personages of the past.

We are not machines or cogs who are to be placed into the industrial framework of economy and we would do better with an education based on a more classical model rather than as an industrial machine. And what happens when this societal and economic machine fails, as all machines do? What happens when delivery systems falter, and no one knows how to get or make food except by going to a grocery store? We need to Awaken the Lions! Before it is too late. I think the lions of the future will be those who were homeschooled or who had the will to educate themselves and found the sources to do it despite the education system they endured and not because of it.

Before we close I must share with you this passage from Victor Davis Hansen’s book, “The Dying Citizen”:

I cofounded a classical language program at California State University (CSU), Fresno…offering a competitive education for poorer Americans of mostly minority backgrounds in the fundamental languages, literatures, history, and culture of the West in particular, but also in general to emphasize America’s unique political and cultural heritage, which, after all, everyone in the program’s classes shared…enrolled in Greek and Roman history, introductory and advanced Greek and Latin, Greek and Latin literature in translation, classical mythology, Greek rationalism, the humanities of the Western World, Latin composition, and independent studies…directed reading courses in Homer, the Greek tragedians, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, and Latin authors such as Virgil, Catullus, Horace, Cicero, Livy and Tacitus… Students tribal affiliations disappeared in Greek Class. Being white, brown, or black meant nothing when studying Sappho or Hesiod. Homer was no more or less foreign to a Mexican American student than to me, a Swedish American professor. There was no such things as “cultural appropriation.” A tatooed gang member in class suggested that the blowhard Agamemnon never earned his street cred – and explained why with references to the text of The Iliad. He added in contrast that his hero Achilles had earned his “rep,” not inherited it. No one cared with what particular accent a student struggled to conjugate paideuo. A Jewish woman in a wheelchair at eighty was often helped out of one class by a twenty-year old Hmong student, once as both were complaining that Sophocles was far harder to translate than Euripedes…Such a common pursuit permeated well beyond the classroom. Students dated, sometimes married, but at least often befriended fellow classics students without attention to the class, race, or gender. Gradually students began to sense they shared a common ancestry…be they native born or naturalized American citizens. They understood why and how they spoke freely, voted, and demanded equal protection under the law, in a constitutionally based nation whose laws and customs were largely inherited, modified, and improved from long Western tradition.

Victor Davis Hansen, The Dying Citizen, p. 110-111.

When our modern education system, in their modern “wisdom”, removed the stays of classical education they removed the common glue that held our society together. Without knowing how we all got here and why the only thing that seems to matter today is our differences because our schools no longer teach the commonalities that we all share. The commonalities that were taught in a classical education.

We need to awaken the lions within us if we are to weather the imminent crises that we are facing. But to weather these crises we need leaders of integrity and virtue that our education system does not and is incapable of producing.

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