I wrote this in 1983. The essay originally appeared as Chapter Six in J. M. Wallis, Chaos in the Classroom (Bullsbrook, WA: Veritas Publishing Company, 1984).
Depending upon the ideas and values one holds, music and music education in Australia may or may not be in a dilemma. According to the values of this writer a real dilemma actually exists. In this article, I intend to point to the cause of the dilemma and offer suggestions for a solution.
The initial cause of the problem is the adoption of a false philosophical base, out of which comes the values that people hold. Following in the wake of the philosophical writings of Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant, man in the twentieth century has denied the possibility of knowing that objective reality exists, and hence denies that objective criteria in any field of endeavour really exist. This is illustrated in contemporary slogans such as “do your own thing” or “if it feels good, do it” and “that’s just your opinion”. In other words, philosophical anarchy, resulting in anarchy in every sphere of life, has become the new ideal.
Those who value education are amazed at the decline of education standards in the twentieth century. Education, free and compulsory, was intended to promote the public welfare by increasing the educational standards of all. Yet these hopes were dashed and the demise of education has been documented by a number of writers. Why the declining standards?
Murray Rothbard observed that “by the turn of the twentieth century, the public school system had achieved its maximum impact throughout the country; compulsory attendance laws, furthermore, had swept through state after state. . . . The public school system was ready for its next transformation, for the consolidation of its dominance and for the intensification of its control by a ruling elite.” Who is this “ruling elite,” and what has it done to education?
Education, to be true education, must return to a biblical approach for teaching and learning.
In a more recent indictment of the education system, author Charles Sykes lays the blame for the demise in educational standards squarely upon the professors themselves. The great problem is, apparently, that professors do not like to teach. They pay juniors to do their teaching work while they undertake research and write articles for the technical journals in their field of expertise. And when they do teach, they frequently replace the traditional teaching classroom with the seminar format. The president of Boston University, John Silber, provides us with this insight into the modern university seminar, which is traced back to Woodrow Wilson at Princeton University, before he became U.S. President.
The teaching load of many professors consists solely of one or two small seminars each week,” Silver noted, “seminars for which they rarely prepare, at which they rarely do more than audit or at most comment briefly in an atmosphere of relaxed cordiality or hostility.” The result was that Wilson’s bastardized creation had become sessions in which “ill prepared graduate students spend most of their time boring one another and wasting everybody’s time, because the professor refuses to come to class fully prepared to guarantee an hour of intensive instruction for all participants. . . .”
Another academic dissident, Professor Pierre van den Berghe, struck a similar note in his Academic Gamesmanship, when he wrote: “A graduate seminar in your field requires little if any preparation at all. You just distribute a reading list, assign topics to your students, let them do most of the talking, and confine your activities to two or three wise remarks a week.”
Little seems to have changed. Recounts one graduate student: “I’ve taken six seminar courses, and in every one of them it’s been almost impossible to learn a . . . thing. On the first day of class, the professor announces that everyone will write a paper. Sometimes he says that since the first paper writer will need about three weeks to get ready, there won’t be a class for those three weeks. After that, all the class periods will be spent having people read their papers aloud, with discussion to follow.”
After pointing out the manner in which the seminar class often works, this same student concludes: “You can learn more in two hours’ random reading in the library than you can in a semester-long seminar. But if you take five or six seminar courses plus a colloquium or two, you can get to be a master of something, with a degree to prove it.”
- Murray N. Rothbard, “Historical Origins” in William F. Rickenbacker, ed., The Twelve Year Sentence (New York, Dell Publishing, 1974), p. 25.↵back
- The quotations here are from Charles J. Sykes, ProfScam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1988), pp. 75-77.↵back
From the Archives. Originally published March, 1987.
One of the major problems of our day is getting people to understand the world in which they live. There are few writers who attempt a serious analysis of contemporary society. There are also few Christians who read such books. Consequently, most people drift along content with the status quo. Until, that is, something like the NSW Education and Public Instruction Bill appears. Or it might be a proposed Bill of Rights. Usually, however, it is when ‘they’ come knocking at the door to take away the children that most adults begin to ask: What is happening here? Then they find there has been a small band of people who had been issuing warnings for years of what was to happen, but until the present situation occurs those warnings were not heeded. Examples of this could be repeated from history. To mention just one, there were many who warned of the dangers of Hitler and the Nazi movement. How many Christians inside Germany heeded the warning — until it was too late? It took the German Baptists, for example, a whole generation after the war before they acknowledged a grave error on behalf of Baptists who, both before and during the war, tacitly accepted the Nazi movement. Maybe, then, we can learn something from this which is applicable now, in Australia, in relation to the NSW Education and Public Instruction Bill.
Education as Propaganda
The Nazis, as have the communists, made special use of education. Adolf Hitler knew that in the building of the new society, education, and the control of children, would be a vital ingredient to his success. But he had German history to assist him. Murray Rothbard has noted that “It is hardly coincidence that the most notoriously despotic state in Europe — Prussia — was the first to have a national system of compulsory education. …” While progress towards this was disrupted to some extent by the Thirty Years War, “at the close of this conflict, however, the various state governments moved to make school attendance compulsory upon penalty of fine and imprisonment of the children.” The first national education system in Europe was the Prussian compulsory school system, inaugurated by King Frederick William I at the beginning of the eighteenth century. His son, Frederick the Great, continued the establishment of public schools, and a century later, under King Frederick William III, semi-religious private schools were abolished and placed under state control. In 1810 examination and certification of all teachers by the state, was decreed. The Prussian system thus became a model for leading professional educators elsewhere to emulate.
Thus, by the time Hitler arrived, he needed to do little to establish his new society. And he well understood the place of education. He said, in a speech on November 6, 1933, “When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already . . . What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.'” A little over three years later, on May 1, 1937 he could boast: “This new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.” As historian William Schirer noted, “It was not an idle boast; that was precisely what was happening.” Marx also knew the value of education. Thus he wrote, “The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother’s care, shall be at state institutions and at state expense.”
It is often thought that self-esteem is a key ingredient to success. But studies conducted by staff at Florida State University (and elsewhere) have made some remarkable discoveries.
One of the discoveries was that the people with the highest self-esteem were criminals. There’s nothing like a little research to blow pet theories into the water.
When Dr. Roy Baumeister studied at Princeton, he chose the topic of self-esteem and used it to get his doctoral degree. This was at a time when self-esteem was just appearing on the horizon.
But at a conference in 1984, a sociologist asked him, “What’s wrong with self-esteem? How come it never does any good, never predicts anything?”
Why is atheism so prominent among the children of Christian parents?
In an earlier article Government Schools and the Scorched Earth Policy of Atheism, I outlined how the government school system, designed to be secular, was no more than an engine of atheism. This is the only possible outcome of a secular education system.
In contrast, the biblical idea of knowledge is action—doing God’s commandments as a life of righteousness and holiness.
I quoted comments from the past that explained it is the government ‘secular’ schools that account for the rapid rise of atheism in our time and its broad acceptance through the community.
But that alone does not count for the fact that over 60% of kids will leave the church before they have finished high school. Ken Ham puts it like this:
We are losing many more people by middle school and many more by high school than we will ever lose in college. . . . They were lost while still in the fold. They were disengaging while they were still sitting in the pews. They were preparing their exit while they were faithfully attending youth groups and Sunday School.”
They have, in effect, departed from the faith. Prof. Mark Hamilton, a teacher of philosophy in a conservative Christian college in mid-Ohio explains that the children who come to the college, even the ones from Christian homes and who had attended Christian schools, arrived with Nietzschean ideas and values firmly entrenched in their minds and hearts. Frederick Nietzsche (1844 -1900) maintained that historical research had shown the core teachings of Christianity to be false. So he gave up his religious upbringing, pronounced the death of God, and promoted nihilism as a way of life.
- Ken Ham, Brit Beemer, Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do to Stop It (Green Forest, AR, 2009), Kindle Edition Loc. 227.↵back
Has the Public School Replaced the Church?
IN HIS IMPORTANT STUDY ON EDUCATION, The Messianic Character of Education, R.J. Rushdoony called attention to the religious nature of modern education and the public school. “The state school has become the saving institution,” argues Rushdoony, “and the function of the school has been to proclaim a new gospel of salvation. Education in this era is a messianic and utopian movement, a facet of the Enlightenment hope of regenerating man in terms of the promises of science and the new social order to be achieved in the state.” (p. 4).
Since the publication of these words in 1963, private education has been involved in a major growth spurt. According to an article in The Daily Telegraph Mirror, September 5, 1995, “Fundamentalist Christian schooling, where biblical stories are taught as fact, is the fastest-growing sector of education in Australia.” While the growth may have slowed some, there is no sign Christian schooling is going away in Australia or anywhere else. It is not just back-to-basics that is at issue here. What is also at issue is a back-to-the-Bible as the inspired Word of God and therefore trustworthy in all that it says. And some people are increasingly inclined to believe that it speaks on more than just narrowly defined “religious” issues. Thus, for example, some humanist educators at major universities in Australia “believe children who are taught that the world was created in six real days and that evolution is a false theory have problems as adults with their skills of thinking and criticizing.”
Alma Mater holds the place of Santa Mater.
While the Christian and home-school movement has grown, there have been no real gains in tertiary education for Australian Christians. Attempts to establish tertiary level studies in Australia have failed due to lack of support. This is because parents have not been willing to pay the establishment costs of these institutions. And by establishment costs, I don’t just mean tuition. Some of the attempts failed because the infant institutions were unable to issue formal academic degrees, a prerogative of those institutions that have government approval to do so. The cost to parents and students was the inability, for example, to gain a “recognized” degree.
The lost art of reading letters from a friend
I don’t know about you, but whenever I get a letter from a friend, I open it as soon as I can and read it. I do the same with e-mails, or at least with e-mails when I recognize they come from a friend.
Why do I do that? Because I love my friends, they love me, and I enjoy hearing from them. I’m genuinely interested in what they have to say. And in order to know and understand what they are saying, I read the whole letter as quickly as I can.
Now most of us act that way for the same reason. We get a letter, open it, and read from beginning to end.
But there are some letters we get when we don’t do that. And I cannot even think of any good reason why I put the letter down midstream, and pick it up another day. Nor can I even begin to fathom why my parents and church leaders encouraged me to put those letters down and not read them to the end the day they arrived.
[by T. Robert Ingram, originally published 1959, St. Thomas Press, Houston, TX 77035]
“It is he that teacheth man knowledge.”
When people speak of the public school system in the United States today they mean schools that have two distinctive features:
1. They are paid for by taxation imposed by the police power of the people.
2. Attendance is compelled by that same police power and failure to attend brings a penalty under the law.
Now these two features do not in reality qualify anything to be properly called public. In fact, they disqualify it. Things that are public are things that belong openly to the people as differentiated from belonging to the king or the ruling power or what we call the government. Schools that are paid for out of taxation and where attendance is forced by threat of punishment are properly called government schools, and not public schools.
The End of American Manufacturing?
Peter Drucker, in his 1989 book, The New Realities, highlighted what he saw to be the major cultural shifts in the twentieth century. The farming sector, once the largest sector of every economy, had shrunk to a mere few percent of the population, yet the general wealth of the farming sector had not deteriorated. Together with the broad population, farmers were better off.
Manufacturing replaced the farming sector, argues Drucker. This was the economic revolution that turned the world upside down in the twentieth century. Manufacturing helped create America’s economic supremacy, but now it too is in jeopardy.
Recent news publications have carried scores of articles on the decline of manufacturing and its resultant unemployment for many Americans. By 2015, it has been predicted, up to three million jobs will be lost, mainly in the manufacturing sector. That sector will shrink just as the farming sector has done.
The remarkable feature of the decline in the manufacturing sector has been the accuracy of predictions like those of Peter Drucker. With insight, Drucker correctly foresaw the decline of American manufacturing. With equal foresight, he has seen the replacement of manufacturing and blue-collar workers with the information age and white-collar, educated workers who take and apply their skills in very narrow and specialist fields within the economy.
When is Education Not Education?
This is a complaint. A complaint about teachers. In particular, teachers of musical instruments, especially piano, but more than that.
Here’s the nature of my complaint. But before I give you the basis of the complaint, answer this question:
Which group of teachers has the highest failure rate?
If you answered public school teachers, you’d be close, but not close enough.
If you answered Seminary professors you might also be close, but again, not close enough.
Maybe you thought of college professors in general. And while you might have some basis for this, you would not even be close.
Here’s my answer. Music teachers!
These are the teachers who offer to teach your child an instrument – piano, violin, flute, cello, clarinet, guitar, harp – you name it.
But look at how many students take music lessons then quit as soon as they are teenagers.
Now they would probably quit Math and English classes if they could, too. But music is one subject that mom and dad say is optional.
But the fact that it’s optional is not why the kids quit.
They quit because they can’t play the instrument.