Monday, June 29, 2015

Teaching in 2015 - Worm Grunting Until Convicted

H. L. Mencken Portrait
“The government I live under has been my enemy all my active life. When it has not been engaged in silencing me it has been engaged in robbing me. So far as I can recall I have never had any contact with it that was not an outrage on my dignity and an attack on my security.” HL Mencken

"That ability to impart knowledge . . . consists, first, of a natural talent for dealing with children, for getting into their minds, for putting things in a way that they can comprehend. And it consists, secondly, of a deep belief in the interest and importance of the thing taught, a concern about it amounting to a sort of passion. A man who knows a subject thoroughly, a man so soaked in it that he eats it, sleeps it and dreams it—this man can always teach it with success, no matter how little he knows of technical pedagogy. That is because there is enthusiasm in him, and because enthusiasm is almost as contagious as fear or the barber's itch." Henry Louis Mencken from  Prejudices: third series (publ. A. A. Knopf, 1922)

Henry Louis Mencken knew how to identify cant, insincerity, humbug, bigotry and sanctimony at the horizon.  He did not need to have it legislated before he could snap his galluses, gnaw on his stogy and shout to the helots, " Hey!  Rube! You're about to step in it for fair, Son!"

Being a fundamentally flawed human being, prone to vice but gifted with talents far above those of most mortals must have made the proud German American beer swilling genius feel like Casandra most days.

He could predict cultural disasters from any bar stool and, while amusing all and sundry, go unheeded.

Mencken stood at the dawn of American Progressive thought and shuddered. Research! Inquiry! Settled Science!  Foregone Conclusions and willful assumptions destroyed shared truth.

Americans ignored shared truth and swallowed data tossed by Academics whole and heartily.

From that magic  moment in 1876, Johns Hopkins University preened its purple feathers and waved proudly for inquiry over pedagogy America tumbled. The German architect of infant fascism, Alexander Humbolt, so impressed the Quaker bachelor

The University of Chicago, packed with Rockefeller spondulix, followed suit and the Academic Jackass eclipsed the pioneer, the innovator, the leader, the priest, the warrior, the athlete and genuine scholar in the America pulpit, bank line, battalion, playing field and imagination.

This past week, the United States Supreme Court wholly justified the very Germanic nonsense HL Mencken fought against his whole life.  Johns Hopskins is the core of this evil apple swallowed whole from the late 18th Century to this silly season.  Marriage ain't no more and ObamaCare is going to be as easy to avoid as taxes.

Mencken understood exactly where America was heading. As a very flawed man with some level of wit, I see the very same nightmare.

We are here, Henry!

A male and a female are matter for a court and future litigation.

A family is a group of people.

States rights are what have been agreed upon.

So teaching, especially in a Catholic school is now a dirtier job than Worm Grunting.

Two self-proclaimed American Catholics on the U.S. Supreme Court, Kennedy and Roberts, have effectively made teaching in a Catholic high school ( Catholic Universities long ago struck the flag) is about to become a very dangerous game; unless, of course,  the teacher  is cowed by the threatening realities of pitting shared truth against conveniently manufactured and very pliable doctrines.

I'll continue to grunt and sweat and dig up a few wormy triumphs in the classroom when students pick up on my enthusiasm for millennia of shared truths ( abortion is always murder, a bolt only goes into a nut, water boils at 212 and freezes at 32 degrees, Shakespeare is a genius and Toni Morrison writes stuff) - until the bracelets get slapped on.

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