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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Why History Matters ~ Ted Byfield

There are countless perspectives that contain valid information, many of which have never been told…or have been neglected to death. The more I read about a particular group or person, look at the sources and take context into consideration, the more I realize how very little we really know.

Tremendous statement. Hearing 'both sides' of an argument is one thing, having source information another - But yes, my long running agitation is precisely there, those things never told and\or neglected to death. The amount of surprises I have met in just the many men of God mentioned within this confine here is astounding, so much so that my abeyance and 'suspicion' is that we do not know the half of it. But it is also why I have come to agree with the whole underlying premise expressed here, that [i]History Matters[/i] a great deal and as it is titled, especially [i]Christian History[/i] - That old adage about history repeating itself and being doomed to repeat it is at once both equally true and an opportunity to do something about it. I think SI as it is, is a remedy towards all this. I also was hopeful that this little treatise itself would open up and broaden that whole scope ...

Mike Balog

 2009/1/25 11:49Profile

Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Why History Matters ~ Ted Byfield


By now however, as Dewey planned, the new order had
spread from the schools to take over the whole culture,
principally through the vastly expanded universities built
by history’s most affluent society, on the proceeds of the greatest
economic advance the world had ever known. What at the beginning
of the century had been the theory of a handful of academics
at Chicago and Columbia by the century’s last decades
had become the mindset of an entire generation of journalists, novelists, musicians, television producers, advertising executives,
“forward-thinking” clergymen and, of course, school teachers.

In this process, however, a certain deception was worked. The ’Sixties
Generation certainly had the numbers. Their immediate forebears,
having survived the Great Depression and then fought and
won the SecondWorldWar, had come home to establish the twentieth
century’s highest birth rate. But it was not their numbers that
achieved the victory of the revolutionaries. In fact, it later became
evident that they had converted only an insignificant fraction of
their own generation. However, by shrewdly concentrating themselves
in the four pivotal areas of modern society–the academy, the
media, the bureaucracy and the seminaries of themainline Christian
denominations, including the Catholics—they were able to misrepresent
the society as having wholly changed, when most of it had
not. In fact, two incompatible societies began existing side by side
– the minority one portrayed as a majority by the media and the
“advanced” educators, bureaucrats and clergymen, the other by the
increasingly bewildered majority.12

One area of learning, however, remained of necessity proof
against the revolution, notably the physical (as distinct from the
social) sciences. Here, facts had to remain facts, and rules had to
remain rules. In physics and chemistry, things were either proven
or they weren’t. Experiments could fail, and so could students.
Mistakes were real. Standards must be sustained. Here, in other
words, authority remained firmly in place. But the humanities,
wallowing in their new boundless “freedom” and captive to
whatever “liberated” interest group could gain access to them,
gradually declined into practical insignificance.

Looking back on his years in high school, one male Canadian
student I know sadly observed: “My literature courses were
courses in feminism, my social studies courses were courses in
socialism, and my sciences courses were courses in environmentalism.
The only thing they couldn’t wreck was maths. I don’t
want another four years of this in university, and I don’t want to
take science or engineering, so why bother going?”

He was not alone. Over the years of the Deweyite revolution,
university registration as a whole changed from 60 percent male
to 60 percent female. The female majority in the humanities
alone is much higher. Meanwhile, drop-out rates in high schools
run four-to-one male. Most males, one must conclude, can learn
best in a world of right-wrong, true-false, good-bad, pass-fail,
win-lose. The so-called “alpha males”–often the ones with the
liveliest imaginations, the greatest potential and therefore the
hardest to control, meaning the least able to see themselves as
“social beings”–were proving impossible to educate. Some observers
saw an explanation for this. Back to the beginnings of
the human race, rambunctious young males had been controlled
by simply spanking them. But the new Dewey generation was
the first one to discover that “violence teaches violence,” so they
used drugs instead and sedated the obstreperous males into
dazed acquiescence. In the process, they somehow managed to
raise what is arguably the most violent generation of children
we have ever known.

The role of drugs in the revolution was not confined to tranquilizing
rambunctious little boys. The ’Sixties introduced youth
to the world of pot, speed, crack, methadone and other chemical
novelties, in the course of this wrecking the lives of hundreds
of thousands of young people. Surely, one might respond, you’re
not blaming John Dewey for creating the drug scourge. No, not
precisely for creating it, but for undermining and destroying the
moral barriers that would otherwise have obstructed it. Before
his “progressive educators” arrived, the response the pushers
would have encountered among young people would have been:
“We don’t do that kind of stuff.” And by we, they would have
meant their people, their crowd, their town, their country, their
society, and more than anything else their parents, their family
and the members of their church or synagogue. But these were
the very people Dewey had diligently trained them to oppose.
These were “the Establishment.” These were the old “Authority,”
the people who must be superseded. So the barriers were
down and the “drug culture” was born—a multi-billion-dollar
industry, both in selling the product and in coping with the massive
crime it brought into being.


[12. One figure revered in anthropological circles for much of the 20th Century was Margaret Mead. Her famous book, Coming of Age in Samoa–describing an idyllic, non-violent, free-loving Pacific island society, which encouraged pre-marital sex and recognized few restraining sexual rules at all—became required reading in first-year anthropology courses throughout the English-speaking world. In 1983, another anthropologist, Derek Freeman, having lived on the same islands for years, published another study of the Samoans that refuted Mead’s book in almost every particular. She was the victim, he said, of a Samoan hoax. The Samoans were in fact an exceedingly puritanical people with rigid rules against sexual promiscuity, though they had a mischievous sense of humor. Later yet another senior anthropologist, Dr. Martin Orans, emeritus professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside, apologized for the way he and his colleagues had also been drawn in by the hoax. “The greatest fault lies,” he writes, “with those of us like myself who understood the requirements of science, but both failed to point out the deficiencies of Mead’s work and tacitly supported such enterprise by repeatedly assigning it to students.” Mead had gone to Samoa, said Freeman, pre-eminently to affirm the social views of her beloved mentor, Dr. Franz Boas. Boas’s close associate at Columbia for 31 years: John Dewey.]

Mike Balog

 2009/1/25 11:52Profile

Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: Why History Matters ~ Ted Byfield


Very soon came disturbing reports that kids weren’t actually
learning much. The schools were costing more. Teacher
salaries, once abysmally low, now appeared altogether adequate.
But children didn’t seem to read as well. Many were unquestionably
illiterate and some could not add, subtract, multiply
or divide.Moreover, the schools had become laboratories for esoteric
experimentation. In the 1960s came “new maths,” which by
the 1970s had been quietly dumped as a failure. “Whole language”
reading instruction came in with the ’Eighties and was mostly out
by the end of the ’Nineties. How many lives had meanwhile been
ruined by this irresponsible dickering, no one cared to say.

Then in 1983, President Ronald Reagan’s National Commission
on Education produced a report that shook the American educational
establishment to the core. It was entitled “A Nation At
Risk.” In clear terms with unassailable data, it painted the picture
of an educational catastrophe, revealing that the American school
system, once one of the best in the industrialized world, was now
one of the worst. There had been a steady drop for some years in
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores and the American College
Test (ACT). (Canadian schools had no equivalent for such tests.)
There had appeared a growing need for the universities to provide
remedial classes to teach what the elementary and secondary
schools had failed to teach. The performance of American students
on international test scores was steadily declining. Knowledge
of the great works of literature had virtually disappeared and
all tests showed a deepening and repulsive ignorance of historical
fact. Finally, the American level of “functional illiteracy” was
higher than that of any other industrialized nation.

Many wondered: How had this whole calamity been allowed to
happen? Where were the defenders of our literary heritage when
our literary heritage was being pitched out? Where indeed were
the historians when their subject was being reduced to at best a
dispensable adjunct of sociology? Even more astonishing: Where
were the Christians when the whole premise of their teaching and
theology was being rendered absurd? (How could Christ have
died for our sins when there was no such thing as sin—or good or
evil, or right or wrong?)

It soon became evident that even Christian schools had been blind
to the fact that what their teachers were being required to learn in
education college to gain the indispensable government “teaching
certificate” was fundamentally incompatible with what was being
taught by the Bible and by their churches. Even most state-supported
Catholic schools in Canada had so obediently embraced
the new ideas that their curricula became largely indistinguishable
from those of the public schools.

But why should this have been surprising? Dewey himself was an
avowed atheist. He saw the traditional teachings of the churches
as a “delusion,” which erected “obstacles to a student’s intellectual
and moral growth.” Religion engendered “a slave mentality.”
It recognized “an intolerant superiority on the part of a few,”
while imposing “an intolerable burden on the part of the many.”
To Dewey, Christianity was “ a dying myth.” Christians were
“preoccupied with the state of their character and concerned with
the purity of their motives and the goodness of their souls.” All
this was a form of ”spiritual egotism.” Teachers must strive to remove
“the crutch of dogma” and “of beliefs fixed by authority.”
They must seek to “liberate” people from Christianity and teach
them instead “the service of the community.”

Fifteen years after “A Nation At Risk” was published came a new
report, “A Nation Still At Risk.” It brought the doleful news that
despite supposedly herculean efforts to improve the schools nothing
much had changed. Some 30 percent of freshmen entering university
were in need of remedial courses in reading, writing, and
mathematics, said the report. In California the figure was 50 per
cent. “Employers report difficulty finding people to hire who have
the skills, knowledge, habits, and attitudes they require for technologically
sophisticated positions.” This second report found
that American 12th graders scored near the bottom on the latest
International Math and Science Study—19th out of 21 developed nations
in math, and 16th out of 21 in science. “Our advanced
students did even worse, scoring dead last in physics.”

Why, asked the second report, had the many reforms proposed by
the first report gone unfulfilled? It answered its own question: The
authors of the first had “underestimated the resilience of the status
quo and the strength of the interests wedded to it.” One of
them, a former Minnesota governor, observed: “At that time I
had no idea that the system was so reluctant to change.” Reluctant
yes, but also incapable. Those who run the system were so
deeply infected with the flawed philosophy lying behind it that
they could comprehend no other.

So a doleful conclusion seemed inescapable: The system cannot
repair itself. No significant change in the schools could occur without
somehow supplanting the Dewey philosophy which continues
to inhibit any serious restoration of standards. However, to say
that such a sweeping change is impossible would argue against the
first contention of this essay, notably that Dewey and his fellow
educators in fact worked just such a transformation which in turn
went on to transform the whole society. Dewey himself, that is,
may have shown us the way to defeat Deweyism. But it would involve
a counter-revolution in the faculties of education as convulsive
as the one Dewey engineered. And even if such a
phenomenon could be brought about, it would still take at least
two generations to restore the effectiveness of the schools. Do we
have that much time? In the competitive modern “global” environment,
with the educational performance of other nations soaring
above the North American, it seems most unlikely.

There was an even deeper problem, which Dewey himself acknowledged,
and for which he offered no solution. A distinct
amorality was becoming evident in society. The “self,” as it came
to be called, was becoming the only value of the “Me Generation.”
The Deweyite schools had successfully abolished the foundation
under the old rules, but had found nothing workable to
replace it.

“Science,” Dewey was confident, would supplant the religious and
traditional basis for ethical behaviour. But this is something of
which science is incapable. That is, it can exhaustively describe
how human beings behave. But it cannot authoritatively assert
how they should behave or ought to behave. Sociologists might
draw up rules for an ideal society, but precisely what obligates the
individual to respect those rules? One might reply: “the general
welfare of humanity.” But what obligates the individual to heed
this “general welfare of humanity?” Suppose he elects instead to
“look after No. 1?” Is he wrong? But how can he be wrong if
there was no such thing? Dewey had turned to “science” for an
answer, and science was of necessity silent. So too, it became clear,
were the educators. Only they could save the schools, and they
didn’t know how.

Mike Balog

 2009/1/28 8:55Profile

Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Why History Matters ~ Ted Byfield


There is, however, another option, not in itself a solution, but
something that would help pave the way to the kind of educational
cataclysm that salvaging the school system will require.
Most people have within themselves an element that few
Deweyites understand, though Dewey himself plainly understood
it and feared it. He no doubt saw it as an instrument capable of
powerfully reinforcing the very beliefs, attitudes, rules and values
that he strove so zealously to eradicate. That instrument is history.
There exists among many humans an understandable desire
to discover how they got here. They know of course the biological
answer, but as an account of the way in which towns, toilets,
baseball, rocketry, music, fire hydrants, archbishops, fashion
shows, bank robberies, traffic accidents, socialism, television and
all the other zillion things they see around them came about, biology
alone does not offer a satisfactory explanation. Nor do any
of the other sciences.

What does offer it is history. Perhaps that’s why the historical,
properly presented, often has a strange effect upon the modern
psyche. History can become a sort of addiction, a good addiction,
afflicting people of all ages and both sexes, of widely different educational
levels, of different professional backgrounds, trades or
careers, nationalities or religions. Such an addiction customarily
develops when someone, often with little previous exposure to
history, comes upon some person or event in the past, or perhaps
merely the site of such an event, and finds developing in himself
a keen fascination with this person, place or thing. He yearns to
know more about it. He searches libraries, lays out money to buy
books, and haunts the web seeking out others with a similar interest.

It need not be some exotic figure from the past. It can be a personal
ancestor, or a long-dead municipal politician, or even an
abandoned railway line, or a deserted village. It holds, he realizes,
a story, and he wants to know all about that story. So he pursues
it, and in so doing to he begins to make a number of discoveries.
His deserted village, for example, he finds was once a bustling
community with a mayor and council and a school and a volunteer
fire department. In an odd way, he begins to feel at home in
that village. He knows some of the local people by name.

But he also discovers that almost everything that happened there
was determined by events outside it–by the province or state,
which had a story of its own, which in turn was connected to
other stories involving the whole country and a whole era in
which all these things were going on. So his interest in the village
carries him to things well beyond it, to a whole world of people
and events, all of whom, he strangely begins to understand and
somehow identify with. For he has also found out how similar
they are to the people of his own day, though they lived a very
long time ago. Living conditions certainly have changed, but people
have not.

Then he discovers something else. He is beginning to develop a
broad picture of the past. His interest in the village has served as
a path leading into a great forest. He has followed the path and
found that it led to other paths, which in turn led to still others,
until he was able to form in his mind a map of a whole section of
the forest. This in turn connected to other sections he did not
know, but which would no doubt all have stories of their own.
Strangest of all, the result of this experience has been to subtly
change his view of the place and time in which he himself is living.
He once would have called this “the real world.” But now he
knows there are other worlds just as real as his, and that other
equally real worlds would follow the one he’s living in. Those past
worlds had much to teach him because they enabled him to see
more clearly what is going on in his own times.

He has found too that good and evil have come into sharp relief.
Some individuals really did shine like a light from a hilltop,
spreading joy and truth wherever they went. Others brought darkness,
and in the clash between the two the fate of their society was
gradually being decided. He finds that those holding the popular
view were frequently deluded, where those widely regarded as deluded
were in fact on the right track. Often, supposed steps forward
were actually steps back, and while the majority might rule,
the majority could often be dead wrong. Through it all he discovers
that good and evil, far from mere matters of opinion, were
the qualities upon which everything, every event, ultimately
turned. And he realizes too there is one profound difference between
that earlier time and his own. Dealing with the past, he
knows how the story turned out, what finally happened and why.
Dealing with his own time, he does not know. It is still being determined.
But now he can play an informed part in the outcome.
Thus history serves him.

Beyond all this, he discovers something else. He is not so afraid. He
finds that the terrors of the present are not so terrible any more,
because humanity has survived thembefore and he has (so to speak)
watched them do it. He finds that current human attitudes and supposedly
unprecedented ideas and events are often very precedented
indeed and are simply coming back for the umpteenth time. He is
living, he now realizes, in what’s actually the latest chapter in a very
long book. He knows something about the earlier chapters, and he
realizes that this gives him an extraordinary advantage over those
who do not. It is not an accident that most of the great leaders of
the Western world were keen scholars of history. They shared the

Now such an addiction wholly defeats Deweyism and for an understandable
reason. While the great philosopher claimed to set
men free by liberating them from the “shackles” of the past, the
effect was to deliver them into the bondage of the present, making
them prisoners of what the Germans call the Zeitgeist, the
spirit of the age. Dewey had led them to believe that the here
and now, the going thing, the current style, the “acceptable”
view, the latest “rage” was the only reality that existed. Thus
fashion not freedom came to determine how they lived in a
world where morality was a matter of “lifestyle” and truth a
matter of viewpoint. They could not judge the world they lived
in because they had no way to get out of it to look at it. He had
locked them in. One way out was that path into the forest, so he
made sure that few ever found it. History, he ruled, must be confined
to “the relevant.”

Mike Balog

 2009/2/7 23:19Profile

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