Food for Thought
Harlow Giles Unger, the well-respected educator, scholar, and author of over two-dozen books on history and education is telling us, it is not global warming we should be concerned about; it is our ignorance, along with our irresponsible and cavalier attitudes, which are pushing our civilization back into the Dark Ages when the “Hoi Polloi” were kept ignorant, immature, and stupid, as The Church, through their tyrannical nobility and the Spanish Inquisition, controlled the population by keeping them uneducated and in constant fear through the perpetual slaughter of millions of innocent men, women, and children.
Unger points out, today’s youth are ignorant and immature; more than half of American high school graduates are functionally illiterate, with many having reading skills at less than a grade three level. Most Americans know very little about history and science. Proven scientific facts are being taught in school as theories, and students are being told that many popular fairy tales and myths are true histories.
“Frankfort is one of the sixteen cities which have the distinction of being the place where the following incident occurred. Charlemagne, while chasing the Saxons (as HE said), or being chased by them (as THEY said), arrived at the bank of the river at dawn, in a fog. The enemy were either before him or behind him; but in any case, he wanted to get across, very badly.”
The above is a satirical quote from Mark Twain’s book, “A Tramp Abroad”. Our schools present their version of history as if it were all factual when it is no more than one side of the story and is often not even close to the truth. As Northrup Frye described it, “The written word is far more powerful than simply a reminder: it re-creates the past in the present, and gives us, not the familiar remembered thing, but the glittering intensity of the summoned-up hallucination.”
Many of the books which Harlow Unger suggests students should read are difficult to find in libraries, are seldom mentioned in magazines nor newspapers, and are difficult to obtain. At one time, Thomas Paine’s writings were studied in all American schools. Today, most students have never heard of Thomas Paine, nor Gerald Massey, Robert G. Ingersoll, John Locke, Robert Eisenman, Joseph Atwill, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, even though, many of these men, along with dozens of other freethinkers, have been instrumental in obtaining for us our freedom of thought and the few civil rights we have.
Our education system is not teaching students how to think and form their own opinions. Three-quarters of a century ago, educators like Northrop Frye were trying to change this. Frye tried to show that there is a big difference between true history and mythology. In his lecture, “The Educated Imagination”, Frye detailed how people usually do not think for themselves, they just go with the flow and follow convention. For decades, at the University of Toronto, Frye taught The Bible as literature. Frye was advised, he should avoid making comments that might lead the student toward or away from any position of what is called belief. Despite this, Frye would tell his students, if there is any true history in the Bible, it is there by accident. And Frye presented facts to prove this statement.
The University of Alabama’s official mission is to advance the intellectual and social condition of the people of Alabama through quality programs of teaching, research, and service. In practice, academics plays second fiddle to fun and games. Unger gives this example, a professor’s salary is $45 thousand US per year, while Nick Saban, this university’s head football coach, has an annual salary of $12 million US. The uniformed band, which performs at every football game, is costing this university more than $1 million US each year. Where are the priorities?
Unger, for more than fifty years, has written about how the standards of education in the USA are well below the standards in some other countries, and continually falling. He states, the USA is in a decline which is accelerating so quickly there is no hope for it to turn around. It seems that Joseph Stalin’s prophecy that the USA will eventually rot, like a pear, from the inside out, seems to be coming to fruition. Which country will take over from the USA?
Wayne Douglas Weedon is a Manitoba author who writes a combination of fictional and factual stories and novels.