There is a particular madness here. As anyone with any grounding in the Conservatism that emerged in mid-twentieth century America knows, it has from the beginning contained a profound and well-developed critique of the modern theory of the University — a theory which was itself a critique of the classical understanding of this institution. For the University, of course, can in no way be described as “modern.” It was an achievement of the Mediaeval Age. Under a sirens’ song known to history as Progressivism, men sought to transform this ancient institution, and have perhaps succeeded in destroying it. Athwart this revolutionary enterprise, Conservatism made one of its original stands. Then one day, this Conservatism, which long enjoyed primary sources of influence outside official channels — in the instincts and sentiments of republican men, in their tradition of patriotism and their innate good sense — found itself with access to a political party that just might be capable of carrying its ideas into implementation. And the madness lies in the particular corruption that power brought: On the question of education this selfsame party, by its deeds if not as much its words — though the latter were there too — repudiated its old and cherished principle, and became the consolidator of a system antithetical to it. America’s right-wing party adopted a new and terrible principle: it would be a conservationist of the aged decrepitude of American education. It would shelter the destructive revolution made in how men are raised into their cultural inheritance. The Republican Party would outspend Democrats on education, would indeed “heap money” upon “the arsenals and training ground of [its] enemies,” would expand and celebrate the bureaucracy its leading men once railed against; on the whole, it would lend its authority, not to a reversal of the revolution once espied with horror, but to a consolidation it.Education is, as T.S. Eliot said so well, more important than government. The failure of conservatives in all other areas could have been overlooked (outsourcing and tanking the economy, runaway banking fraud and looting of the Treasury, the failure of the pointless wars in the Middle East, the growth of crime and the police state, the growth of the multicult, failure to stop legal and illegal immigration) IF they had've just succeeded in restoring local control to education. IF they would've done that, we could see a path to eventual victory through a new and better educated generation.
The effect of the Republican consolidation of the revolution in higher education is to render only certain progressive voices “official,” and to drive the defenders of the older ideal of the University from the field. Arnn notes that a recent Draft Report out of President Bush’s Department of Education, “does not mention religion, God or morality. It does not mention history as a subject of study. It does not mention the Constitution, either for what it commands or allows, or as a subject of study. Although busy governing, the Report does not mention government as a subject of study. Philosophy, literature, happiness, goodness, beauty are not to be seen.” Arnn continues:The Draft Report is devoid of any echo of the purpose of education as it is trumpeted in our first national documents. It contains no whisper of the sentiments from the Northwest Ordinance, those regarding “religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind.” It does not so much as murmur the hallowed idea that students should learn the lessons upon which our republic was built, the teaching of which is the reason government would be interested in education in the first place.This Report emanates from the public mind of an administration thought to be conservative — indeed thought by many to be among the most conservative ever. The folly is complete. Its poverty of imagination is only the natural working-out of the revolutionary principles Conservatism once opposed. It signifies the abandonment of the classical idea of the University — an idea which came to these shores by means both organic and deliberative — by the political party which imagines itself the conservator of the nation. more >>
Homeschool now, ask me how.