“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” – Winston Churchill
I fear for the future of our great nation. We’ve gone a long way on the momentum generated by our forefathers, but we’ve made two mistakes in the field of education that I feel compromise our ability to maintain the liberty that was generously bequeathed to us.
The first mistake came when we moved away from the two millennia old system of classical education based on the Greco-Roman model in the early part of the 19th century. The world had moved on, it was argued, and the old focus on the seven pillars of a liberal arts education – grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy – were abandoned in favor of a newer, ostensibly better approach.
The second mistake was the shift in the way outcomes were measured. This change was more subtle, but no less dramatic. Today’s can no longer focus on cultivating a lusty passion for the truth, instead, they are constrained by the need to hit certain marks in standardized tests.
This well-intentioned double-whammy effectively took the pedals off of the bicycle. The rest of the equipment is there, but without the pedals it is very difficult to do much of anything easily. The ultimate risk, of course, would be that we would unintentionally produce an entire generation (or several of them) whose foundation was insufficient to arrest the ever-threatening slide from democracy to tyranny.