One of my maxims is:
If you cannot defend the right of free speech for the person you disagree with the most, you don’t believe in free speech.
As this article from The Economist relates, free speech is under attack around the world. It’s not surprising to see this in dictatorial countries, but suppression of free speech is alive and well in democracies. Most disturbing is how it is tolerated — encouraged even — in the American university. The purpose of universities is twofold: Preserve and pass on knowledge and history to one generation to the next; and promote the free exchange of ideas and foster new knowledge. Instead:
Free speech is hard won and easily lost…[even] in mature democracies, support for free speech is ebbing, especially among the young, and outright hostility to it is growing. Nowhere is this more striking than in universities in the United States…and an incredible 10% approved of using violence to silence [speech].
I have been following the Death of the University, which itself is a sad situation of this great institution of western culture. Just as bad is the trend of silencing speech — often by the very people who claim to be for it.
This trend must be stopped dead in its tracks.
We’ve all been told how important reading is for the development of a child’s mind, not just so they can get an A in reading class, but for their intellectually well-being the rest of their life. This has become even more important in the age of electronic gadgets. Anna Mussmann writes:
[Children] must be able to hold large ideas in their minds. They must be able to recognize the differences between logic and propaganda. They must possess the self-discipline needed to focus on issues that are boring, and seek the wisdom to differentiate between what is right versus what is expedient or amusing. Most of all, they must possess the perspective of a true education in ideas so they can think outside the echo chamber of our era.
All of this is deeply connected to what and how we read. It is not that people who use their phones frequently are necessarily dumber than people who don’t. Like any tool, though, screens can be dangerous. They can fill the spare moments of life until no time is left for thought and deep learning. They can retrain our brains and make it hard to focus on a long-form conversation, whether in-person or in print.
Books are one of the best ways to guard our minds against a misuse of screens. Books aren’t magical mind-vitamins, of course. Yet in order to cultivate the ability to think, we must engage with good, wise, and true thoughts. And it happens that the works of humanity’s greatest thinkers are found in books.
She also writes on what it means to be a “reader,” and how to set an example to children. Kristen Mae shows us how to “trick” your kids into reading — in a good way. Michelle Woo details the sad truth of why some kids stop reading by age 9 — and how you can prevent this.
Reading is the gateway to all forms of thought and subject matter. It is a doorway to our past and a pathway to what our future will become.
Make sure it is wide open for your children and remove any and all roadblocks.
This podcast, Your Son Isn’t Lazy — How to Empower Boys to Succeed, has some great insights into boys and learning. If you listen closely, you may also notice some unspoken implications concerning our [the government’s] enlightened ways in educating children, which are causing the very problems that seem to increase with each generation.
My three maxims for education are these:
1. The person most responsible for your education is you.
2. The people most responsible for a child’s education is his or her parents.
3. Learning never ends.
If we adhered to these, would we constantly be trying to reinvent education, only to see it spiral further out of control?
P.S. Also check out Why Arizona’s Plan To Teach Kids Cursive Is Great For Kids where we learn, among other things, handwriting “engages the brain more deeply in creative thinking” and “strengthens students’ memories.”