I am off to places where the Internet does not glow, the next few days, & will return to the Greater Parkdale Area not until Tuesday night, Deo volente. Therefore remarks from the Commentariat must wait for approval & posting until then. To compensate, gentle readers will not be afflicted with new Essays, & those of truly retrogressive ilk may wish to reprise the older ones. Comments have continued to wash in beneath those, including some by me, so you may find things you hadn’t read yet. Or, although I hesitate to suggest, you might find better authors to read than this one.
On the subject of Homer, Aeschylus, Dante, Shakespeare, the Bible, &c, a delicious beuk has fallen into my hands by an Australian lady, published 1962 (the year before the discovery of sex). It is entitled, The Archaic Principle in Education. The authoress, Margaret Clarke, taught “moderns” in English & Continental universities (Heine, & Rimbaud, were the subjects of two previous beuks she had written, the former in French).
I shall be reading it on the train, but from a quick perusal I see her thesis is that modern schooling entered its tailspin in the 1870s, & had been wrecked even before John Dewey. Indeed, Dewey was only made possible by the thorough obliteration of “the archaic principle” (Dr Clarke’s term) which had governed all educational practice, primitive & civilized, Oriental & Occidental, religious & secular, conservative & progressive:
“The archaic principle was the teaching of youth through old stories about the beginning of the race, frequently epics written in verse. An idea both of dépaysement & of essentials was involved. The aim was to impart to youth the ethico-intellectual tradition of the race; for the moralizing of youth was considered to be tremendously difficult. It was the whole task of education.”
Its rival she calls “the technical principle.” The Sophists of ancient Greece were the first to attempt a revolution — to replace moralization with a demoralized or Machiavellian “how to” approach to everything — but they were overcome. Our modern sophistry, which provides the ground condition for the ignorance & criminality of our masses, has by contrast been so successful that it is taken for granted today as the only possible way to raise children.
Dr Clarke surveys the entire planetary history of education, in brief but extremely intelligent compass. She then proposes a scheme for re-archaizing, which I look forward to reading.