EDUCATION IN SIDE-BURROWS?

 


Our present thesis, if correct, places society in some sort of danger because science has been misled. This danger does not arise from absent-minded professors feverishly concocting elixirs of life in explosion-scarred laboratories. Our eccentric, near-incomprehensible, semi-reclusive devotee to the hidden things of nature is the Man upon whom technological progress stands. Few geniuses were "middle-of-the-road" human beings.

The danger lies in a significant proportion of "middle-of-the-road" human beings placing reliance on a falsity because it has been given scientific kudos. The genius in his laboratory is projected out onto the street, so people on the street act with a conviction that the genius in the laboratory is one with them in their thoughts and actions.

"The latest research" becomes the guiding light, the lamp by which we find a place for our feet. When society has been inculcated with the "latest", it tends to place it's collective feet where that lamp of "research" is thought to be shining.

This can only happen if some aspect of scientific theorizing somehow strikes a chord with a destructive thought-tendency in Man. The theory is then taken up as a catch-cry, justifying in the eyes of those who are aligned with it, their pursuit of private, politico-religious agendas. Hence, both Communism and Nazism gained respectability from what was claimed to be the cold, hard facts of technical research--darwinistic Evolution. Such an undesirable outcome of scientific theorizing would have shocked men such as Galileo, Newton, and even Darwin himself. Scientific research and theorizing carried out by archetypal, absent-minded professors such as Galileo, Newton, and Einstien, changed the world, but did not blend with the thinking of bloody revolutionaries. In contrast, the Species Theory of Darwin, especially as developed and publicized by Thomas Huxley, was a factor in the politico--religious thinking of millions.

The question may be asked -- did Darwinism, so readily taken on board by totalitarian murderers, also find a place on the wagon of democratic thinking? As a society, are we suffering any undesirable outcomes from a union of one aspect of a conjectural theory with a misdirected thought-tendency in Man?

If the majority favours an opinion potentially fatal to society, and never turns from it, the result is a foregone conclusion. British opinion following World War I favoured appeasement of Nazi Germany: Had not events intervened to alert the British, history would probably have taken an even more sinister turn. It is not inconceivable that the acquiescence of the free World to totalitarianism at that time could have proved fatal to democracy. Which leads us to the question, "What are the essential ingredients of a free and democratic society, and how are these essentials preserved?"

What is the mainstay of a successful and enduring human society?

Ancient Rome survived many severe trials because of the tenacity of the Italian Peasant. When that particular individual, his family, his lifestyle, and his ideals, died, so did Rome. Organised human society is essentially the visible expression of multiplied units of men, women, and children, functioning in their varied socio-economic settings. Society stands or falls with the Unit. All successfull communities are a group of successfull units

Many and various ideas exist and have currency within such stable human groupings. In the case of Western Democracy, scriptural teachings such as the brotherhood of Man, the equality of Man, forgiveness, the rule of christian Law, the right to choose one's own leaders, and so on, have a central role in defining our systems of administration. We would nevertheless be deluding ourselves if we thought that ideas claiming to be based on the Bible are always correct. A real danger to free society can come from popularization of an apparently authoritative idea, bible-based or otherwise, if that idea when put into action corrodes the fundamental Unit. If the termites eat the underlying structure, society will crumble at a touch. This is self-evident.

Have misleading elements of Darwinism, entering into our western psyche, united with counter-productive thought-tendencies, leading to fundamental decay in the fabric of our society?

This question may never be answered. It may well be that the evils which befell twentieth century Mankind, such as Communism and Nazism, were not forwarded by the speculations of a 19th century, mild-mannered, english Biologist. What can be said with certainty is that modern Man is indoctrinated in Evolutionism; and Evolutionism, depending on how it is expounded, can bring with it the idea that all is improving with time, and just as life succeeded in the past, so, Mankind, relying on his own powers and instincts, and the inexorable process of upward improvement, will, as a species, automatically succeed. At the same time the idea that we need to take our cue from history, from the facts of biology, from religion, and especially from the Bible, has been relegated to back seat status. This has influenced our attitude towards childcare and education.

Childcare and education have to do with the survival of The Unit -- the man and those around him, functioning in their socio-economic setting. Our society stands or falls with the Unit.

According to Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary, education means "to bring up, train and instruct, according to an accepted standard." The learning of mere facts is a minor aspect:of education: the impartation of skill and ability is more significant; and the production of character is paramount. Parents desire their children to be prepared to face life, and to face it with success. It will provoke little or no dissent to suggest that parents wish their children to gain a positive self image, respect for others' rights, respect for authority, skills, knowledge and ability, and a resilience and determination to endure under all circumstances, upholding a free and just society. For want of a better term, most of these attributes fall within the ambit of the word, "character". Development of character, along with skills and knowledge, is the purpose of education. How is 21st century Society meeting these standards? Could we refer to a short checklist?

--- It is a biologic fact that a child's will is well on the way to being molded by the time it is weaned, more so by the time it is five years old and, thereafter, perhaps, only by a miracle. (Animals generally are only successfully trained if the training process is begun at a young age.)

--- It is a fact that a youth's psychological concept of authority, of government, of God Himself, is directly imbibed from his experience of his father, largely before he is five years old.

--- The Bible combined with observations from history and the animal kingdom steers us away from systematic cruelty to the young. Spartanism was an ancient Greek experiment in producing superior race through placing infants under conditions of severe hardship. They did not conquer the world as a result of their experiment. A glance at the history of successful civilizations will nonetheless confirm the principle expressed in the strongest language in Hebrews 12 and in other scripture texts: "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he recieveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons: for what son is he whom the Father chaseneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." (Note: The Scripture does not pass an opinion on whether parents should or should not entrust the upbringing and the physical discipline of their children to the State, to some other organization, or to any person or authority other then themselves.)

Are we likely to encounter any of the above facts in the "latest research", or in early 21st century "correct" thinking?

The witness of biology, of history, of many of the world's religions and of the holy Scriptures strongly suggests the following to be paramount in raising children:
--Father and mother (or the next best option). (The Bible assumes that only parents who are ill or distracted will not love and care for their offspring.)
--Training in self-control, beginning at the earliest age, and involving robust physical discipline if or when indicated.
--Positive educational environment in which the child/youth is respected, gains assurance that he can succeed in life, and in which he sees that authority will be respected.

Whatever the latest research is claiming, children do not evolve into resilient, self-possessed people of character as though by some ethereal process.

21st century Australia, complicated as it is with family dysfunction and massive state intervention, not only gives the impression of having run up the white flag on the major points of childrearing -- it seems to be actively and legislatively furthering the surrender. It may be unfair to Science to suggest we are getting all our guidance from the "latest research"; we aren't getting it from most world religions; we certainly aren't getting it from the Bible: perhaps it's coming from the ethereal eather?

Whilst it is true that negativism calls for neither talent nor vision, and many useful advances in childcare and education have been made by genuine researchers in recent times, the essential basics appear to have been backstaged. A house without foundations will fall. If "the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ" (Gal.3:24), since we are getting rid of it, then the genuine research, testable in the laboratory of real life, indicates we are taking from our children the opportunity to come to their senses, to themselves, and to a sure knowledge of things Higher than themselves. It is the natural tendency in Man to find whatever means he can to hide from reality. "...they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err ..... ".(Amos2:4).

Have we been appeasing or ignoring something that, like 20th century totalitarianism, could in time rise up to destroy freedom itself?

Are we listening to sound research and authoritative laboratory-type results regarding childrearing and education?


Published June 2005