Thursday, July 18, 2013


Mary Chesnut. From Modern Medievalism.
From the Deseret News via Tom Levenson:
Compulsory education laws have resulted in parents disengaging themselves from the responsibility to oversee the education of their children and have caused schools to falter under the burden of being all things to all people.

Those points are among the arguments made by Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, in an article posted Friday on the blog of the Utah State Senate, in which Osmond called for the end of compulsory education in the state.
I noticed something in a recent Googling expedition that I hadn't ever heard of before about the history of public education: that it was well established, municipally funded, [jump]
in pre-Revolutionary New England, but didn't get going in much of the South until as late as the beginning of the 20th century. In the slave states, it seems, the norm was home schooling (with private tutors), private schools (originally in England) for the wealthy, and in more progressive parts like Virginia parish schools for the poor.

We've heard a lot about the peculiarities of the Southern "culture of honor", including such hypotheses as
  • The original colonists were herders from Scotland, Ireland, and northern and western England, not farmers from the southeast, and the violent code was a necessary defense against theft of livestock, which are easier to steal than crops
  • Excessive testosterone levels conferred an evolutionary advantage in such a situation, enabling more violent men to reproduce more
  • Religion is to blame, perhaps along with endemic poverty
I can't get beyond thinking that the denial of common humanity in people whose skin is a different color than your own—the custom of owning people as chattel, not because they lost a battle or owed you money but simply because they were black—is so intrinsically violent that it could continue to be felt in its culture even 150 years after the institution itself has been abolished. Terrible as slavery was for its black victims, its effects on the white folks, aristocrats and peasants alike, are still more insidious and durable.

But I do wonder how this hostility to public education characteristic not only of the old slave states but also the rancher West (settled by immigrants from the Old South through Texas) fits in, as cause or consequence, with the cultural medievalism.

From the diary of Mary Chesnut, 3 June 1862:
Free schools are not everything, as witness this spelling. Yankee epistles found in camp show how illiterate they can be, with all their boasted schools. Fredericksburg is spelled " Fredrexbirg, " medicine, " metison," and we read, " To my sweat brother," etc. For the first time in my life no books can interest me.
Much better, to Chesnut, to have such ill-bred people not able to write at all. And then her mind jumps in this psychotically incoherent passage to her own wanting not to read, in the excitement of the war.
Creepy-ass Floridian Neal Boortz. Via.
Utah State Senator Aaron Osmond is a nephew of Donny and Marie!

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