Monday, April 4, 2011

Why More People Need to Read The Classics and Study History . . . .

along with some basic computer classes and sports.

The Tempered Radical has some great posts about the war on teachers here and here.  TR uses a bit of humor and history to make his point about the incendiary comments made by Tennessee state legislator Jim Summerville.

First, the computer generated humor that reveals the comments:

Now, the historical comparison that TR documents:  Benito Mussolini's injunction, "Let us have a dagger between our teeth, a bomb in our hands and infinite scorn in our hearts."  Benito and Jeff both have some war metaphors and an inflated idea of their own power, so the comparison seems to hold.

I prefer the literary, so I'll quote Sophocles' Antigone.

CREON: Shall Thebes prescribe to me how I must rule?

HAEMON: See, there thou hast spoken like a youth indeed.

CREON: Am I to rule this land by other judgment than mine own?

HAEMON: That is no city which belongs to one man.

CREON: Is not the city held to be the ruler's?

Creon and Summerville seem to have the same idea about power.  One must trust one's own judgment over everyone else's and use power not persuasion to govern.

For those who may have forgotten the play, Creon loses his wife and Haemon, his son, to suicide.  He also loses his city and concludes that he is ". . . a rash, foolish man; who . . . . [does] know not which way I should bend my gaze, or where I should seek support; for all is amiss with that which is in my hands,-and yonder, again, a crushing fate hath leapt upon my head."

After Creon reaches his conclusion, the Chorus states, "Great words of prideful men are ever punished with great blows, and, in old age, teach the chastened to be wise."  Let's hope Summerville and others of his ilk don't destroy public education beyond repair before they become chastened enough to be wise.

The younguns might not want to read about Mussolini or the the play, but they should at least pay attention to Kellen Winslow Jr. who was and is still mocked for his war analogy.

Finally, I've always believed that the key to becoming educated is curiosity.  In a an effort to practice what I preach, I'd be curious to learn how many South Dakota legislators agree with Summerville.  I expect to be unpleasantly surprised.

Image Credit:  Crown Royale Infinity Rifle by V&A Steamworks
Licensed Creative Commons Attribution on April 2, 2011

No comments: