Continuing from last week we are quoting yet another section of this extremely insightful book; a work of art and a master piece in our opinion. The author quite clearly illustrates the principle of which we have spoken several times, that education as we know it for the most part is a waste of time. We once stated that individuals enter these institutions sane and emerge on the other end brain washed and on the border of insanity. They are taught how to repeat and regurgitate matter in the same manner a parrot is taught to repeat several dozen words. It does this task very well but it does so with no understanding of what it is saying or doing; an action that is mimicked by most market technicians today. They take another’s work, add some nonsense and try to sell it of as their own. What is lacking in the field of financial analysis today is new insight and new ideas; the majority are happy to work together re packaging the same nonsense over and over again. To make things look even more appealing they start to validate each others nonsense and thus you have a perfect recycling machine that can take even the worst sewage and churn out a product that actually smells wonderful but is extremely poisonous to the mind once ingested. As stated last week the only way to understand others is to understand yourself and the only way to teach others is to first learn to teach yourself. The problem with our current world is that everyone is trying to teach the other something of which they know almost nothing of; all they have done is master the principles of the subject matter through repetition and assume that in doing so they are now masters of this subject.
In truth, however all I understand of the matters that the gravest and hardest of human sciences is the rearing of children. It is easy enough to beget them; but once you have them, then the cares, troubles and anxieties begin. Their inclinations in babyhood are so obscure, their promise so uncertain and deceptive, it is mighty difficult to have any solid conjecture or judgement about them. Cubs and puppies quickly show their natural bent; but mean as they grow up, fit themselves so readily into received customs, opinions and laws, they soon change or at least mask their true nature. Hence it happens that by not guessing their real road we waste our time and pains in educating them to things they are hardly fit for. As to this difficulty I believe they should be set upon the best and most profitable highways without bothering too much about the hints and signs they give in childhood to which Plato, I think credits undue weight.
Learning, Madame is a fine ornament and marvellous tool, especially to persons of your rank. While I am sure that you who have tasted of its sweets will not omit this necessary ingredient in the education of your child, I will nevertheless presume to tell you a crotchet of mine, which runs contrary to the common usage. It is about all I can offer you on this subject.
A boy of good family then who seeks in letters not a livelihood or outer adornment but something for his personal use to furnish and enrich his inner being, who wants to make of himself an able rather than a learned man; for such a boy I would have his friends select a teacher who had a well turned rather then well filled head. We need a man with both, but preferably with manners and understanding than with learning. And we want him t do his work in a new way.
Teachers are forever thundering in our ears as though pouring into a funnel; and our business is merely to repeat what they tell us. I would have our tutor reform this altogether. At the very outset he should put the pupil on his own mettle. Let him taste things for himself and choose and determine between them. Sometimes the teacher should break a new path and sometimes the pupil. It is well to make the boy, like a colt, trot before him so he can judge the pace and by how much to abate his own speed. This is one of the hardest things I know of. Only the most disciplined and finely tempered of souls know how to slacken and stoop to the gait of children. I walk firmer and surer uphill then down.
Our school master should judge what his pupil has gained by testimony of his life, not his memory. Let the boy examine and sift everything he reads and take nothing on trust or authority. Then Aristotle’s principles will be more principles to him that those of Epicurus or Stoics. The diversity of opinions should be laid before him. If his able he will make his choice; if not he will remain in doubt. And if he adopts the principles of Plato through his own reasoning, they will no longer be Plato’s but his. The man who follows another follows nothing, finds nothing, nay, seeks nothing.