|The Road to the Middle Class: A Manifesto||The Way of Faith|
by Christopher Chantrill
January 01, 2005 at 12:18 pm
EDUCATION is an essential travelers aid on the journey from country to city. An old woman living in the Gobi desert nailed it when she told the National Geographic:
I only know eating, drinking, and tending animals. This is what my parents did. Their parents. The young people today, once they leave the [Gobi], they never return. I dont blame them. The life of herding is coming to an end. Work in cities is the future.
The reason the young people of the Gobi dont return is that they all go to boarding school from first to ninth grade, only returning home in the summer. Nine years of boarding school education prepares them for life in the city. So they join the great trek.
Education is also important to the earnest churchgoer in an American sriver suburb. Said Mary Johnston of Rock Hill, South Carolina, to a Washington Post reporter in 2000: I want my children to go to the best schools, first grade through college.
Modern opinion about education assumes a Year Zero some time in the mid-nineteenth century, when the activists for modern universal education began their agitation for free government schools. The time before Year Zero is treated as prehistoric, an embarrassment of Ragged Schools, one-room schoolhouses, Dotheboys Hall and Wackford Squeers, and opportunity denied to the poor. In fact, of course, education has had a long and checkered history over thousands of years. Athens, for instance, had a free market in education, and Sparta had a government monopoly.
In the United States, mass education has been accepted from the earliest days of the colonies and literacy has always been high. In 1787, free male adult literacy was estimated at about 65 percent, and in the census of 1850 literacy was reported as 90 percent. In colonial times, education was supported with a mixture of private and public funding. In smaller towns, district schools financed by public and private funds were common. Some poorer children got to attend for free, but most parents paid fees for their children to attend.
In England literacy was not as widespread as in the United States, for the rulers preferred that the lower orders remained illiterate. However, according to E.G. West, literacy increased steadily from the beginning of the nineteenth century as the lower orders sought out education for their children in defiance of their rulers. In 1813 James Mill (father of John Stuart Mill) wrote of the rapid progress which the love of education is making among the lower orders in England. He noted that
There is hardly a village that has not something of a school; and not many children of either sex who are not taught more or less, reading and writing. We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.
Henry Brougham conducted surveys of schools in 1820 and 1828, and found that the numbers in schools had doubled in one decade. Literacy in England increased steadily until government education was legislated in 1870.
Schools exist to teach children things that their parents cant teach them. For the peasant, school gives his children a chance to make it in the city. For the illiterate costermonger in Victorian London, it gives his sons the chance to move off the street and sell something that needs a bit of book-learning and bookkeeping. For the earnest churchgoer in an American striver suburb it gives her children the chance to join the professional classes in the big city for whom life is not a grim struggle but a creative adventure, not meat-and-potatoes but nouvelle cuisine. Education, then, is all about embourgeoisment, the making of a citizen, one who lives and works in the city.
It seems that everyone in the modern era, from the lower orders of industrial Britain to the illiterate grandmother in the Gobi desert, understands the value of education for their children. It is curious that we should have developed a system of educational compulsion that treats every parent as a feckless ignoramus that must be dragooned into sending their children to school and compelled through taxation to pay for it. It isnt as though there is a free-rider problem in education. Parents everywhere want their children to thrive and will sacrifice for them.
The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness...
But to make a man act [he must have]
the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove
or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel
Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says we should....
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
When we received Christ, Phil added, all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh
I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all.
In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.
E. G. West, Education and the State