The Children Are Our Future (Also: an Overabundance of Semicolons)

[The following is an article submitted by site commenter MLR. -SS]

I promised I wouldn’t let this leave my outbox until it had passed the Ghoul-test: Ghoul remarked in a comment exchange we had that parenthood leading to secure and happy children is not complicated, you just have to be there. Go fishing. I agree. And so I determined that nothing I could say was worth reading until it passed muster with that bit of insight.

So I’ll begin by putting that observation up against another, from Moldbug, which I shared with my students (to a combination of gasps and laughter): every city in the world has the death penalty for walking in front of a bus. I can tell you that words like “fair” and phrases like “international law” lasted about as long as a snowball in July after that. As to its application here, I’d suggest the following.

It isn’t fair that there is a machine out there (call it the MSM, call it the Cathedral, I don’t care) that will happily chew up your child’s soul if you give it a chance, and that it is designed… no, evolved to do exactly that, starting by corrupting any loyalty or honour you may otherwise have engendered in your dear little Tommy/Tammy on fishing trips. Tough. It’s there, and it’s chewed up plenty of others; plenty who didn’t have to get chewed up, I’d add. It’s there, and it’s highly adapted and adaptable. If your approach to equipping your kids against it is some iteration of this:

then I’m sorry to tell you that the machine has designed around you. It might not be fair, but tell it to the bus as they scrape everything you love off its front fender and tire.

If I’m to be of any use, I need to take what I see in my classes everyday – the thin, paper thin veneer of this system that can’t sustain the slightest pressure when a few reasonably bright minds are turned in just the right direction – and make this approach more widely available. I want you to be able to communicate your frustrations to those young people you love and are responsible for, because our Darwinian reality (mediated, in my experience, by a merciful God who can use a broken nobody like me) does not admit good intentions, alone, as criteria for survival. The cancer will outpace you and yours.

Your children need you, and as Ghoul correctly observed, you need to connect with them. This is not a process of downloading insight porn into your charge’s mental harddrive: it is a relationship. So in that vein, let me suggest just one way I’ve been able to help my students make connections that in the space of an hour leave them frothing to tear down a pillar (or three!) of the Cathedral.

Seeing the Insidious Siren Song of University for The Lie it is

There’s no method here that works in every case, so let’s agree that the comments below are going to be a great place to hash out your anticipated problems – I’ll be right there in the thick of things. Think of it as an approach. And a great approach to starting things off is to have an open-ended chat with no clear agenda, prompted by some gem that the Cathedral never fails to supply. Consider this:

After a few initial reactions, I like draw attention to bits and pieces that don’t seem to “fit.” For instance, “Fewer people want to be teachers” …but… because there are fewer applicants? Huh? And what’s up with the low number of grads actually being hired as teachers (of 600 grads in a year, there were 60 hires and most of them were grads from years prior to that) but they talk about the number of applicants being “way down … almost %75” as being the bad thing? The blonde kid’s a real sharp one: despite the Valley-girl twang, she pegs it as there being no jobs, and yet the dean says she “doesn’t think they’re pumping out too many grads” from this program and instead are “worried they won’t be able to fill the seats… bringing that [dropping] number back up … I would like to see the halls brimming with students,” and your pockets with shekels, no doubt.

At this point, students start getting a little irate, but that irritation is largely directed at the easy mark: the whale of a paper-pusher program dean. #whatevs. We’re Right Stuff material, here, and we aim higher than that. If that Brit sniper can take out 6 jihadis with one bullet, surely we can fell more jungle prey than one misshapen Prog-heifer. We want the big prize: the well-coifed journo with the smarm all over her stupid face.

Notice the phrase uttered at the 40-second mark: “If [teaching] has been a life-long dream, this might be the opportunity to fulfill that dream,” mouthed with skin-crawling sideways glances by the dean-boon. It’s easy enough to invite students’ critiques here: she wants your money in a nasty, nasty way. Bad, BAD dean-boon! But that’s not the only time this insidious phrase gets said. At the 2:18 mark, the journo herself repeats the phrase. Now why would she go and end on a remark like that…?

What’s with the use of the word “dream,” too? How’s an impressionable young person supposed to respond to that kind of enticement? Doesn’t it seem to imply that “if you’re not willing to give up two years of life and fork out thousands in tuition for our piece of paper – which, after all, is the only way you can be a real teacher – then you’re not really serious about your future; you’re not a follow-your-dream kind of Brahmin: maybe you’re destined for a life as a McDonald’s manager …”?
Isn’t that kind of… gross?

I’ve seen a range of responses – all bust-out-the-popcorn variety. I’ve seen desks pounded, I’ve seen eyes flash, I’ve seen intemperate remarks: and the journo gets it every bit as good and more than the Acting Dean-Boon.

Welcome to a Monday in my class.

After a week of materials spanning TED talks by Ken Robinson (if TED knew how downright reactionary a good chunk of the talks are… SHUT IT DOWN!!), and articles like the “Hipsters on Food Stamps” series, I have a room of jadedly clear-eyed young people who look at “Higher Education” and the Ivory Tower with as much suspicious contempt as they had the week before for the Dove Sketches Beauty ad scam (H/T again to TheLastPsychiatrist – that’s a fun week, too). Any residual warm, pleasant feelings turn to a mouthful of bitter ash. Modern journalism fares badly – very, very badly - on a weekly basis.

And so, as I say to my students: your turn!

Conclusion:

There’s little I haven’t been able to ask my students: what would our grandparents think of [insert degeneracy-of-choice here]; is modernity trying to reduce us all to interchangeable bits in a machine by corroding identity and leaving it to “choice”; wouldn’t we get a whole lot more of what we say we want out of life if we just went the fuck back to church, dammit?

I’m not saying I convince everyone (don’t get me wrong: I often get roomfuls to denounce progressive liturgy), but the questions I introduce will pose a cognitive speedbump when they meet elements of the leftist narrative. The prog narrative won’t … quite … stick. The DNA meme-replication process will short: maybe not 100% of the time, but for some nonzero (and, I have to hope, nontrivial) amount. Any examination of those ideas will necessarily include a digression to the kind of critical thinking we engaged in.

Here’s the thing that prompted me to get off my ass and actually write this: the other week, a young man, after going through some of this material, looked up and said, wide-eyed: “You’re so smart! How do you know this!?!?” The other students smiled approvingly; at first I felt pride; it turned quickly to shame: this young man shouldn’t have been saying that to me; he should have been saying it to his own father.

Your charges deserve better than me. They obviously deserve better than a Marxist shit-disturbing SJW dildo-generator, if it comes to that! But if they aren’t admiring you for your insight, fishing trips or no fishing trips, they’ll be admiring someone.

Let that someone be you. Help them see.

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MLR