The quote speaks to those of us, I think, who see history as interesting biographies and love to see the people behind the stories and conjecture how their lives must have actually been.
History is not just dates, places and events to be memorized by school children. It is people influencing events – real people with blood coursing through their veins and thoughts through their minds. History breathes. Its heart beats. Just like those who make it, history changes and remains the same. It repeats its triumphs and tragedies. History is little people caught up in great events and great people turning insignificant events into momentous ones. History is madman and genius, warmonger, peacemaker, idealist and cynic – actors all, playing out their roles on the greatest stage of all.
The essence of socialization is to take make people dependent on social controls, to make them respond predictably to rewards and punishments. And the most effective form of socialization is achieved when people identify so thoroughly with the social order that they can no longer imagine themselves breaking any of the rules.
He goes on.
A thoroughly socialized person is one who desires only the rewards that others around him have agreed he should long for… He may encounter thousands of potentially fulfilling experiences but he fails to notice them because they are not the things he desires. What matters is not what he has now, but what he might obtain if he does as others want him to do. Caught in a treadmill of social controls, that person keeps reaching for a prize that always dissolves in his hands.
Tell that to anyone who asks about proper socialization of your kids.
Besides dealing with how to achieve moments and lives in which we are not just dependent on society, but search within ourselves to create meaning and thus live meaningful lives, he has much to say about socialization and memorization as well.
Here’s what he has to say about learning things by rote.
Learning complex patterns of information by heart is by no means a waste of effort. A mind with some stable content to it is much richer than one without. It is a mistake to assume that creativity and rote learning are incompatible. Some of the most original scientists for instance have been known to have memorized music, poetry, or historical information extensively.
And this is perhaps my favorite part and relates directly to homeschooling.
A person who can remember stories, poems, lyric of songs, baseball statistics, chemical formulas, mathematical operations, historical dates, biblical passages, and wise quotations has many advantages over one who has not cultivated such a skill. The consciousness of such a person is independent of the order that may or may not be provided by the environment. She can always amuse herself and find meaning in the contents of her mind. While others need external stimulation to keep their mind from drifting into chaos, the person whose memory is stocked with patterns is autonomous and self contained.
If you haven’t read it yet, make it a point to do so.
Here are some great takeaways from the book to whet your appetite.
Although we often succeed in teaching our pupils “subjects,” we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think? They learn everything, except the art of learning.
For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armour was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects.
We who were scandalised in 1940 when men were sent to fight armoured tanks with rifles, are not scandalised when young men and women are sent into the world to fight massed propaganda with a smattering of “subjects”; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotised by the arts of the spell-binder, we have the impudence to be astonished. We dole out lip-service to the importance of educationlip-service and, just occasionally, a little grant of money; we postpone the school leaving-age, and plan to build bigger and better schools; the teachers slave conscientiously in and out of school-hours, till responsibility becomes a burden and a nightmare; and yet, as I believe, all this devoted effort is largely frustrated, because we have lost the tools of learning, and in their absence can only make a botched and piecemeal job of it.