Medieval Schools – Wrath Of Gnon on Twitter

“Far from what we imagine today, schools were available to many children in medieval England, as long as the family could spare their labour. Apart from monastic schools, there were free standing private grammar schools in many parishes. Here is the medievalist Nicholas Orme…”

“So much for the ‘Dark Ages’… Modern education in England (and indeed the world) has the early medieval schools to thank for almost every aspect of what we today take for granted…”

As an academically-trained, as well as avocational, medievalist (my B.A. is in medieval studies, and my Master of Theological Studies was focused primarily on early and medieval Christianity), “so much for the Dark Ages” is a pretty good condensation of my own conclusions! The “Dark Ages” were not nearly as “dark” as most people think; there was a good deal of scholarship, and quite a lot of creative thought, going on in them, and while some elements of the knowledge of late Hellenistic antiquity were lost to the West until the Renaissance, thanks to both monasteries and cathedral schools, much survived.

What I had not fully realized was the extent to which that knowledge was available outside of the cloister and the University. I should have! I was aware of private tutors, as well as the vast number of “clerks in minor orders” who were not, properly speaking, clergy, but who were the recipients of academic training in the aforementioned monastic and cathedral schools, and later the Universities, and passed that knowledge on – for a fee! – outside the walls.

What I hadn’t realized, but should have, was that then as now, education began young: for how could older youth be beneficiaries of knowledge without the seeds of learning being sown in their younger years? Latin is not learned overnight, nor is philosophy, nor yet the trivium and quadrivium. The existence of parish grammar schools is not something I had thought much about, one way or the other, but it is certainly not surprising.

Most interesting, though. Most interesting indeed!

Advertisements

West Rise Junior School – Teaching young students resilience, in the out-of-doors

“If kids never step out of their comfort zone, how are they going to learn resilience?”

— Mike Fairclough, Headmaster, West Rise Junior School (Eastbourne, UK)

Not sure if I shared this last year, when it first appeared – if not, I should have! If I did, it’s worth a re-share. As I wrote at the time:

What, you mean there’s a school that’s actually teaching children where real food actually comes from – as opposed to magically appearing, wrapped in styrofoam and plastic, at the supermarket? Good heavens! In fact, the whole program sounds absolutely brilliant.

This amazing state school in the UK teaches children from “a varied demographic” – most of whose families are on various forms of social assistance – how to shoot, hunt, dress and cook the game they take, make bows, build fires, and otherwise function effectively in the outdoors.

The video shows them gutting squirrels, plucking pigeons, splitting wood for the fire with a mallet and fro, and cooking and eating the proceeds.

“The most dangerous thing you can do to a child is to not expose them to an element of risk and danger,” says Mike Fairclough, Headmaster, West Rise Junior School, who adds that “if children are excited about coming to school, if they’re being inspired and enthused by being outside, then that has an impact back in the classroom.”

The school gets the best exam results in the area, and won the 2015 T.E.S. Best School of the Year award, according to the video. “Teaching the children to shoot is controversial,” the video notes. “But the school argues it teaches discipline and responsibility.”

“The cotton-wool culture of Britain has got a little bit out of control,” Fairclough comments, referring to the modern desire on the part of many – schools, parents, media, etc. – to wrap children up and insulate them from many of the realities of life. “It’s only really peoples own sort of limiting beliefs, and a few media myths that people have invested in, which have stopped children from having these sorts of activities.”

Here’s an article with more information (despite the rather absurdly breathless style in which it is written).

Kudos to Mike Fairclough and West Rise Junior! You’re doing it right.

Mike Fairclough, head master of West Rise School, just outside Eastbourne. With some of the school's water buffalo
Mike Fairclough, head master of West Rise School, just outside Eastbourne, with some of the school’s water buffalo. Photo: Christopher Pledger

Physician: American Children ‘Immersed in a Culture of Disrespect’ | Intellectual Takeout

Physician: American Children ‘Immersed in a Culture of Disrespect’

America’s children are immersed in a culture of disrespect: for parents, teachers, and one another.

Source: Physician: American Children ‘Immersed in a Culture of Disrespect’ | Intellectual Takeout

“America’s children are immersed in a culture of disrespect: for parents, teachers, and one another. They learn it from television, even on the Disney Channel, where parents are portrayed as clueless, out-of-touch or absent [fathers, in particular]. They learn it from celebrities or the Internet. They learn it from social media. They teach it to one another. They wear T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like ‘I’m not shy. I just don’t like you.’”

– Dr. Leonard Sax

This is, I am quite convinced, one of – not the only, but one of – the factors leading to the kind of society in which incidents such as mass murder at schools or other locations is even thinkable. Dr. Sax sites the example of Kyle, one of his patients:

“Kyle was absorbed in a videogame on his cellphone, so I asked his mom, ‘How long has Kyle had a stomach ache?’ Mom said, ‘I’m thinking it’s been about two days.’ Then Kyle replied, ‘Shut up, mom. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ And he gave a snorty laugh, without looking up from his videogame. Kyle is 10 years old.”

There are several – interlocked – problems, here. One is that Kyle is “absorbed in a videogame on his cellphone,” at a time when he should be focusing his attention on the doctor – after all, he’s there for his own benefit! That his mother allows this is another. And that he is thus emboldened to be openly disrespectful and derogatory toward her – at all, but especially in public – is the crowning blow. And he’s not even a teenager, yet! With a start like this, what’s he going to be like when he is?

Now, does this mean that Kyle is going to become a mass-murderer? No, not necessarily. But there is some fertile soil there, for such an extreme version of acting-out. That he cares only for himself – and at that, his immediate desire for electronic gratification, even though he’s at the doctor’s because he has a stomach-ache – and neither those around him (including his mother, who presumable loves and sacrifices for him), nor even his own larger benefit, does not bode well for the future. Nor does the fact that he is dismissive and even belligerent toward those (again, including his mother) who are trying to help him.

Disrespect breeds disrespect. Self-centeredness breeds self-centeredness. And we don’t know what kind of video-game he’s playing. Is it an active-shooter game? Wouldn’t surprise me. If he’s like this at 10, what’s he going to be like at 15 or 16? If people irk him, tick him off, bully him, etc. – as inevitably happens in life – is he going to react to them in real life like his video-game character reacts to an imaginary scenario? By blowing them away? Again, no guarantees. But it’s certainly a concerning situation.

At minimum, if he’s like this at age ten, he’s not setting himself up for a very happy, pleasant, productive, or socially-adjusted life. But while I’m all about personal responsibility, I’m also realistic enough to know that a ten-year-old isn’t in a position to practice a whole lot of that, absent parental support and instruction – and discipline, if or as needed. In other words, it’s not entirely his fault: he’s been allowed, or perhaps even tacitly (if unintentionally) encouraged to adopt this attitude, by things his parent(s) have done, or not done; allowed, or even encouraged.

But the article points out that “while disrespectful children have become the norm, Dr. Sax has found that respectful, obedient children still exist out there, largely because there are still a few parents who practice authoritative parenting.” In other words, the disrespectful ones are the ones whose parents have adopted a laissez-faire, “best friend,” or disengaged model of parenting. And not only they, but society, are reaping the bitter fruits of that planting. Fortunately, solutions exist – and they are basically what many of us would call traditional parenting.

Dr. Sax suggests three basic points: 1) Put the family before the child; 2) Remove distractions, and 3) Draw a line in the sand, and don’t look back. I would say that, better than #3, don’t let it get to that point in the first place! Practice #1 and 2 from the beginning, and you may not get to the point of needing #3 – or if you do, you won’t have as much re-education to do. But in any case, as this article asks,

“Americans have tried the kinder, gentler, let-me-be-your-friend approach to parenting for the last several decades. If the behavior problems in schools and the heightened level of sensitivity on college campuses are any indication, this parenting approach hasn’t produced the positive outcomes we were hoping for. Is it time for today’s parents to reverse course and begin teaching their children to respect others first instead of their own little selves?”

I would think the answer to that question was self-evident. So I’m going to assume that it’s merely rhetorical!

These teens were shooting as others were protesting guns

 

Source: These teens were shooting as others were protesting guns | Yahoo News

“This .22 Rimfire Silhouette Exhibition Match had been scheduled long before 17 people were killed at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and therefore long before the survivors of that rampage had sparked a national protest movement. But even if this daylong test of marksmanship wasn’t deliberate counter-programming, it did provide an illuminating counterpoint.

“There has been much talk since Parkland of the younger generation — the one that grew up hearing of shootings in other schools and participating in shooter drills at their own — and of how those teenagers are changing the conversation about guns. But every American generation is as multifaceted as the country itself, and the 44 high schoolers who took up their rifles in Georgia as their counterparts took up microphones in Washington also have something to say.

“No doubt a lot of this generation doesn’t think we need to have guns,” said Cole Cook, a ninth grader from Barstow County who has been shooting since his father first taught him at the age of 6. “I think they’re wrong. And I’m part of this generation too.”

This is the point that the contemporary American (and Western, generally) Left does not seem to be able to grasp – or willing to admit: that they are not the sole socio-political and moral gate-keepers of our society; that there are many people who are both intelligent and of good will who simply do not agree with their take on matters.

And despite the attention being given to protesters these days, a lot of the younger generation “gets” this!

Given this reality, along with the simple fact that there is an inherent natural right to bear arms in our own defense – as enumerated, not granted, by the Second Amendment, and confirmed by (inter alia) District of Columbia vs Heller – we should tread very gently indeed when it comes to laws and regulations that would further limit that right.

The best way to deal with gun violence is precisely this: to train citizens, from childhood on up, in the safe, legal, and responsible handling of firearms.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

– Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)

What we have lost

What we are losing, and too-often, have already lost:

Solid, cohesive, integrated families, joined by ties of blood, heritage, and culture;

Religion (and preeminently, the Christian faith) as central and determinative for the life of that family and its members, exemplified by regular, devout, and participatory church attendance at least weekly (and undoubtedly religious instruction at home as well);

An instinctive awareness that equality does not mean identicality, embodied in knowledge of the sexes – male and female – as distinct and complementary to one another (*); and

Parenting in which both parents were a) married to one another, and consistently present in the lives of their children (**), b) participated in child-rearing, but in different and complementary ways, and c) that focused on passing down valued traditions and cultural ethos/mores to the next generation.

As I have said many times before, a tree cut off from its roots withers and dies, it does not grow and blossom and bring forth good fruit. So also with a culture and a society.

 


* Yes, I know there have always been a tiny minority of genuinely intersexed people, and with all the synthetic hormones and other environmental toxins floating around, that number may be growing. But you don’t base a culture off less than one-half of one percent.)

** Much is made of the fact that fathers, in earlier generations, were often absent due to long hours at work, leaving women with the task of raising children almost single-handedly. Well, true. But that absence was both qualitatively and quantitatively different than fathers who are absent because they’re “deadbeat dads,” or simply “baby daddies” who are un-involved in the lives of their children, and in some cases, may not even be known for sure to the mothers.

They were absent because they were working hard providing for the material needs of their families, and in the process, setting a good example of the importance of hard work to their children. Ideally, both parents should be able to work at jobs that allow them to spend much of their time at home with the family, as was the case for the majority of humans for the majority of history. But we do not live in those times anymore, unfortunately.

In fact, nowadays, it is often necessary for both parents to work – and not just to afford luxuries (making that assertion borders on victim-blaming, at times), but often, to afford necessities. But that is no reason to beat up on the people of the past; rather, we should use them as exemplars and role models for the direction we should be trying to steer our society.

Fatherless Shooters … as Liberals Push for Fatherless Families | Crisis Magazine

Boys need dads. Just as daughters need dads. Children need fathers. They also need mothers.

Source: Fatherless Shooters … as Liberals Push for Fatherless Families – Crisis Magazine

I have a variety of interests, so I have a variety of stories coming through my Facebook news-feed – one of my chief methods, as a former op-ed columnist and lifelong student of human nature, for keeping my finger on the pulse of society. One of these was an essay by Paul Kengor, contributor to the online Roman Catholic magazine “Crisis,” citing a claim that I have seen before: that all but one of the 27 deadliest mass shooters in American history was raised in a home without his biological father.

Correlation, of course, is not causation; but if true, that would be a pretty stunning correlation. However, the essay was prefaced by an editor’s note that the figure cited was inaccurate, and containing a link to a new article discussing the complications in arriving at an authentic figure (the original article is well worth a read, even so, as shall become evident below). Kengor notes, with evident frustration, that “this is a dissertation project for an aspiring sociologist.” As it turns out, however, even the revised / updated estimates are still pretty stunning.

In “Shootings and Fatherlessness: A Clarification on the Data,” Kengor concludes that

“At most, and this is probably being generous, we found maybe four or five of the 27 shooters that we could definitively conclude (without doubt) had been raised in an intact family, or a family that included the biological dad at home, or a biological father who was consistently at home… what is clear is the vast majority of shooters came from broken families without a consistent biological father throughout their rearing and development. Very few had good, stable, present dads.”

Indeed! Something like one in five, if that. As Kengor goes on to note, “The overall thesis holds: the correlation between certain bad (even criminal) behavior among boys in fatherless homes is undeniable and terrible. In this case, the number of fatherless boys might not be 96 percent, but it’s certainly a highly disproportionate number.” He hastens to add that “Obviously, this doesn’t mean that boys raised in fatherless families are likely to become mass shooters. But it’s yet further affirmation of what we already know: boys need dads. Just as daughters need dads. Children need fathers. They also need mothers.”

This used to be self-evident, and widely accepted on both sides of the political aisle. Here is one quote from a former American President, cited by Kengor:

“We know the statistics—that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.”

Who spoke these words? Ronald Reagan? George W. Bush? Nope. Barack Obama. I am no fan of the 44th president, but if even the poster-child for modern American “liberal” and “progressive” ideology recognized, in 2008 – ten short years ago – that children need their fathers, that is a pretty clear indicator that it is, or should be, an issue that transcends partnership.

That it no longer seems to be so is a reflection of the changing parameters of progressivist ideology, but tracing that is not the concern of this present essay; Kengor does a rather good job of that in his piece, if you wish to pursue the matter. I will here simply note that even if the figure of 26 out of 27 mass shooters growing up in broken homes is erroneous, 22 or 23 out of that number is still stunningly high. It is not a number which can or should be dismissed by a thoughtful observer.

Now, as I say, I have a variety of interests. And so one of the other articles that came through my newsfeed on this day was this one, from the UK’s “The Guardian”: “No hugging: are we living through a crisis of touch?” The tagline notes that “Strokes and hugs are being edged out of our lives, with doctors, teachers and colleagues increasingly hesitant about social touching,” and asks, “Is this hypervigilance of boundaries beginning to harm our mental health?” My response to that question is that it contains its own answer. Of course it is!

As the essay itself notes, “Touch is the first sense humans develop in the womb, possessed even of 1.5cm embryos.” And insufficient touch – hugs, cuddles, etc. – has long been recognized as a contributor to “failure to thrive” in infants and children, and difficulties in childhood development in general. See, for example, this article in Scientific American, which notes that “Many children who have not had ample physical and emotional attention are at higher risk for behavioral, emotional and social problems as they grow up.” And something which is so critical to our early development does not suddenly become inconsequential once we have reached a certain level of maturity.

Furthermore, many mass shooters (though not all) are adolescents. With current studies suggesting that full brain maturity does not occur until somewhere between age 20 and 25, they are in many cases still in the development stage. So that leads me to wonder: are these people getting hugged enough? Are they – and particularly, were they during the most critical stages of development – receiving enough affection, enough positive emotional and physical stimuli? Were they, children of broken homes as so many of them have been, hugged, cuddled, read to while curled up in bed or their parents’ arms? This is not snowflake-safe-space la-la-land, this is a serious mental, and therefore public, health issue.

In fact, it leads me to have a little more sympathy for the seekers of “safe spaces” on the Left, because maybe they themselves did not get enough physical affection as children. Is that why so many of them seem so alienated, so angry, so out of touch with culture, history, heritage, traditional norms, and much else – that they did not, in fact, receive enough affection growing up? That they did not feel safe in their parents’ arms, surrounded by the comfort of home and family traditions? That, being also children of broken homes in too many cases, they never had a real sense of security and at-home-ness?

If so, that would not totally justify some of the looniness, but it might help to explain it. And, with our increasing prohibition on touch – out of an almost hysterical fear (not entirely unjustified, but excessive) of sexual predation – are we breeding more of the same? More alienation, more separation, and potentially, more violence? It’s a sobering thought, at least to me.

We are, at least and at last, starting to wake up to the role of mental illness in violence as more than just a convenient criminal defense (“not guilty by reason of insanity”). But we run the risk of over-reach – not everyone who has ever sought the aid of mental-health professionals is a risk to him- or herself, or others – and we also run the risk of stopping too soon, before we’ve followed the road for long enough. Okay, yeah, these folks definitely have some mental health issues. You don’t attempt to kill large numbers of people (or anyone, except to defend yourself or others) unless you’ve got some pretty serious mental health issues! But mental health issues don’t exist in a vacuum. Where do they come from? What is their source?

There is no single or easy answer to that question; but fatherlessness, and the larger issue of living in broken homes, dysfunctional and divided families, and the consequent loss of physical and emotional affection, positive reinforcement, and overall security that may result, do seem to be fruitful areas of inquiry, to me.

As well as the societal assumptions driving these problems: the idea that relationships are disposable – that people are disposable! – and that “my” short-term happiness and gratification is more important than the hard work of creating long-term, nurturing relationships; that marriage is no longer a sacred institution, but a short-term (or even optional) arrangement that may be ended or dispensed with according to  my own sense of what’s convenient; that children are an imposition (better to have “fur-babies”), not a gift from God; even that gender is fluid and interchangeable (which is one way of saying that objective reality is optional) – and the list could go on.

Guns are low-hanging fruit, easily observed and therefore easily blamed. I have discussed this issue many times and many places in the past, so all I will say at the moment is that a sufficiently draconian ban to have a realistic chance of making it impossible, or even difficult, for would-be mass murders to get their hands on firearms would a) be almost impossible to achieve in the U.S., even if it were desirable, and b) is not desirable, because it would involve an extreme infringement of our rights and liberties, and would unfairly burden the law-abiding while being unlikely to deter killers from finding other ways to kill.

The real issue is this: what causes people to choose to use firearms, not (as most of us do) as useful and interesting tools for hunting, for recreational shooting, and – if it should sadly become necessary – to defend ourselves, our loved ones, or even (God forbid) our country and its Constitutional system of government and way of life against malefactors, but instead to take innocent life? That is the real question, and the one which is being studiously avoided by the majority of media, academic, and political commentators.

But I would suggest to you that broken homes and families – fatherlessness in particular, but the absence of either parent is a major handicap – along with the loss of security, stability, and (by no means least) physical affection which accompanies that brokenness, are some areas in which we need to take a long, hard look at what we are doing and where we are going as a society.

As a driver-education instructor, I have many times told my students that since beginning to teach driver’s ed, I have come to realize that traffic and driving laws are not there to hold you back and make driving a chore. They are there to help you, to protect you, to save your life and the lives of others. In a similar way, I have over the years come to realize that the family and societal norms embodied in the Judeo-Christian religious tradition are not right because they are tenets of the religion. They are tenets of the religion (most of which are not entirely unique to that particular tradition) because they are right.

Don’t believe it? Look around you at the society in which we are living today, deeply and honestly, and I think you may change your mind.

And if not, I’m sorry to say, it may be some time for you to do some serious introspection and soul-searching.

NYC School Cancels Father-Daughter Dance to Comply With New Gender Guidelines | Fox News Insider

https://i2.wp.com/media.breitbart.com/media/2017/03/Father-Daughter-Dance-AP-640x480.jpg

Source: NYC School Cancels Father-Daughter Dance to Comply With New Gender Guidelines | Fox News Insider

This came across my newsfeed, with the following excellent comment from one of my friends on Facebook, Lutheran (Missouri Synod) pastor, Pater Larry Beane:

“This is where ‘cultural secession’ comes in. Parents can opt out of the school’s and state’s approach to this and organize their own event. Communities used to do this kind of thing all the time. This is an example of what Tony Esolen calls for in “Out of the Ashes.” This is a golden opportunity to pioneer a new cultural paradigm.

Don’t just complain; fight back by ignoring the school and doing what you want. We’ve surrendered too much of our lives and sense of community to the government out of convenience. [emphasis added] Since when do DOE bureaucrats tell us all how to live? We don’t need them, and speaking of education, they need to learn that reality.

And there is always #homeschool as the ultimate act of defiance.”

And yes, I know not every daughter has a father available. That could be easily allowed for by including “grandfathers or other ‘father figures,'” rather than canceling the dance entirely. This is pandering to the concerns of a small slice of society by disrespecting one of the most key elements in human culture and society, the father-daughter bond. Unacceptable!

And Pater Beane is right: communities – by which I mean not just or even primarily geographical, but cultural – need to combat this by setting up parallel structures and events, not simply meekly acceding to the currently-dominant paradigm, which despite trumpeting “diversity” and “inclusion” is in fact deeply and intrinsically limiting, coercive, and enforcing of sameness.

Remember the words often attributed to Edmund Burke, that

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”