Jiggery Pokery, Whackadoodle Wokery

My daughter and I have a local writer friend who teaches at the elementary school level – a local quasi-magnet type school which advertises itself as offering a challenging college prep curriculum, and she is discouraged beyond words over how difficult it is to interest the pupils, especially the boys in her class in reading. Of course, given the run of books generated of late by mainstream establishment publishing, aimed at the YA and young readers and then approved by schoolteachers and librarians … most of them seem to be a grim wallow in social or familial dysfunction, misery, gloom, and despair … plus of late, lashings of sexual confusion as well – of the latter, it seems the more explicit, the better.

Frankly, I’m not at all surprised that our friend’s pupils are not keen on the written word, if the above is all there is thrust upon them. I suppose the thinking among the great contemporary kid-lit authorities is that the kids who are wallowing in social/familial dysfunction, misery, gloom, despair, and sexual confusion should feel validated by reading all about it, and those kids who are not will yet have their consciousness raised. In the trendy argot, they should be starting a conversation … even though I suspect that both types of kids relish that kind of reading as much as they would tuck into another delicious helping of filboid studge. The kids who are living the dysfunction/misery/gloom/confusion know it all too damned well, and the happy portion of those who aren’t living in such conditions are left baffled, revolted, and generally put off … not the least by having it thrust upon them incessantly. As a commenter on this thread remarked: “The passage the teacher wanted me to read was about hanging a puppy to get back at his dad. Apparently, it was from some award-winning young adult novel. I was rather horrified, and asked to do a different one. And this was almost 30 years ago. It seemed like every single book the AP lit teachers wanted us to read was just horrific or depressing or both. …”

What I wanted as a kid reader, what my daughter wanted in turn, and what my friend’s pupils want with the longing of a thirsty traveler in a desert is … escape, entertainment, adventure, derring-do, something entirely aside from their mundane and possibly miserable existences. Heroes, fights and festivals, as Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote in his book of poetry for children. They want to be swept away, to be the hero or heroine, to wander stranger lands and distant oceans, a bold quest and successful resolution … and if there is a moral and good and bad examples of behavior incorporated into the narrative, it had better be done with a subtle touch.

However, this variety of whackadoodle wokery is not the most noisome educational atrocity currently being perpetuated upon school students – as the comment above noted, unappealing books in the classroom has been a thing for decades, and likely even longer. The Victorians were no slouches when it came to pushing stories intended to improve the moral character of the young; authors like Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling pushed back against this with writing adventures for Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Stalky and his friends.

What has increasingly outraged parents are the twin scourges of whatever disguise Critical Race Theory is being mainlined into the student body. Whatever innocuous-seeming guise it goes under is essentially telling white kids that they are irredeemably evil racists, and students of color that they will never get anywhere in life ‘cause raaaaaacism. Parents of all colors are protesting this intellectual abuse, and certain schools – teachers’ organizations, administrators and school boards of them are shocked at this interference, aghast that so-called educational experts are being fought against, tooth and nail, after having had their own way for so long.

Parents are also outraged at what they judge to be grossly inappropriate sex education pushed by the education establishment for elementary and middle school age children. (See the proposed outline linked here.) In the eyes of parents, wildly inappropriate sexual content, encouragement of sexual practices and the transgender fad (and it is a temporary and damaging fad; no doubt in my mind about it) this amounts as abuse and grooming of the most vulnerable. Suspicion of this being confirmed when teachers encourage their students to keep secrets about what they are being taught in class from their parents.

If this weren’t sufficiently a matter of concern, it’s compounded when goofs like Terry McAuliffe state as a matter of campaign rhetoric that ordinary parents really have no right to object to the decisions of so-called experts when it comes to teaching children. That insult is redoubled by Merrick Garland declaring that parents at school board meetings are worthy of more suspicion and law-enforcement regard for being potentially violent … merely for objecting to public-school enabled abuse and mistreatment?

Seriously, to whom do our children really belong? To their parents and families … or to the education combine embodied by our more deranged public schools and the whackadoodle wokery which seems to infest them? And what can we do, as parents and grandparents to burn that establishment to the ground and salt the earth where it was? Comment as you wish.

43 thoughts on “Jiggery Pokery, Whackadoodle Wokery”

  1. I got started reading a lot with westerns and Sherlock Holmes. My younger son was not a good student and was complaining the other day about his son’s lack of interest in books. I bit my tongue and said not a word. My father’s most common greeting to me was “Get your nose out of that book !” Maybe that was the magic phrase.

  2. My own reading habits likely came from my father. He was a boilermaster for Humble Oil…Enjay Oil…and finally Exxon. Man always had a newspaper or book when he went to the bathroom, mostly because it was the only time he got to read. As a mechanical fixer type, and welder, and much else he was always supposed to be doing something.
    I think it took, because I have long fought the ‘sit and read’ urge myself.
    When I went to pick up my eldest at Benning after airborne school, we’re back at our hotel room with the boy and a couple of his friends, getting ready to go out to eat. He says he needs to make a bathroom stop, and his buds both say “don’t let him take a book in there, we’ll be stuck here for an hour.”
    Evidently it passes down through generations.

  3. The root problem is that education in this country got taken over by the ideologues from the very beginning, and those bastards were basically out to control what they perceived as “the lower orders” from the beginning.

    Dewey and his ilk have a lot to answer for; they set out, with malice aforethought, to turn the children of America into good little proles–While leaving their own upper-class exclusive establishments under the classical system they themselves grew up under. Fate fooled them, because the corruption they visited upon everyone else eventually spread like an intellectual cancer, and has now overtaken their own channels of cultural communication.

    I find it really amazing that they got away with the things they did–They went to Germany, looked around at the actually very (classically…) liberal schooling systems set up by von Humboldt and his element, and came away with the forms, yet managed to ignore the substance of what made German education so damned effective. It’s like they went there, looked at it, confirmed their own beliefs about what worked, came back and pronounced that they were following the latest in European pedagogy, and nobody caught them at it. We’ve had this false image of German schooling as being this place of rigid Prussian authoritarianism and kadaversgehorsam, while the reality was that they were nothing at all like that–And, if you pause to consider the way that the Germans overtook the British and everyone else industrially and how freakin’ flexible and open to the talents their military proved to be in the three major wars of the late 19th and early 20th Century, you really have to wonder how the hell the fraud managed to stay in place. Of course, I suppose that when you look at the “other side” through Prussian-colored glasses, you’re only going to see what you expect to see…

    The real problem with education in this country of ours is that we’re not really paying for or getting an actual education system. It’s a system meant to churn out obedient little machines to work steadily and unimaginatively in factory settings, without ever helping them reach their full potential. Is it any wonder that kids don’t read, when all they’re presented with are the schlocky bits of pablum that are served up to them?

    The other issue I see is that schools have come to be set up by a bunch of fussy little-girl types, for other fussy little girls. It’s paradise for a certain sort of typically female personality type; for everyone else, especially most boys, it’s hell on earth. You try to lock a lot of boys down in classrooms doing fussy little tasks like sorting words out, playing idiotic games with numbers, and you’re going to lose them, utterly. Most little boys need to be doing, not sitting around not doing.

    I would wager that if you were to totally revamp how things are done, you’d have a much better rate of success. But, we don’t want that, because you can’t break the rice bowls of the educational-industrial complex.

    Were it up to me, I’d break the whole thing down, entirely. I love learning, and true scholarship–But, the experiences I had in school in this country left me with a life-long loathing for the majority of the people I encountered in that milieu, and for the way it operates. The petty bullshit and control-freakery that abounds in that atmosphere is incredible, and wafts off most educational establishments like a miasma of rot and corruption. Everything I’ve ever studied independently I’ve enjoyed and relished; everything that’s ever been shoved down my throat in a classroom, I’ve come to hate with a passion that stems mostly from the environment I experienced it in initially.

    What sucks is that I’m one of those people who’d probably best be described as a “natural scholar”, but the system broke me at an early age. That shouldn’t happen, but that’s what our system does–Destroys human potential far more effectively than it nurtures it.

  4. Kirk…”They went to Germany, looked around at the actually very (classically…) liberal schooling systems set up by von Humboldt and his element, and came away with the forms, yet managed to ignore the substance of what made German education so damned effective. It’s like they went there, looked at it, confirmed their own beliefs about what worked, came back and pronounced that they were following the latest in European pedagogy, and nobody caught them at it.”

    Interesting, could you expand on the forms vs the substance?

  5. My pet peeve on the topic is how writers, editors, publishers, librarians, teachers, and parents are convinced – convinced! – that books for youngsters MUST have characters of the readers’ own age or the youngsters will reject them. I don’t think this is true at all, and as an example I’ll point to that popular book for youngsters about a 50 year old pipe-smoking bachelor.

    I think youngsters would be happy to read books about older characters, but are in a position where they can’t protest against being fed “age-appropriate-characters” gruel, and are even kept ignorant of the possibility of protest – other than the instinctive, unthinking protest of Not Being Interested in reading in general.

    A sub-peeve is how Romeo and Juliet is forced on high school students as being somehow the “best” and “most appropriate” Shakespeare play for teens, “because it has teenage protagonists!” Bah. Bleah. Or as Terry Pratchet put it, “similarly Moby Dick is very popular among whales.”

  6. @David Foster,

    What I’m talking about with regards to this doesn’t come out of any one source, but is the result of me asking some questions that nobody else seems to ever come up with, then doing the necessary research to find the answers.

    The first question is this: If, as “conventional wisdom” would have it, the Germans were immured in this authoritarian mentality and mindset, inflexible and rigid, all due to their educational systems… How is it that they managed to put together such a competitive economy that was wiping the floor with the rest of Europe during the Wilhelmine era? Why were the Germans able to break free of their class-based caste system, and the English and French were not?

    The evidence that the conventional wisdom vis-a-vis German “Prussian rigidity” is delusional is all over the place in military history. You just have to read, and the questions should come naturally. Then, you look at the rates of innovation and technologic uptake, and still more questions about this supposed mass of lock-step automatons pose themselves: If the Germans were like this, why and how did they manage to build their economy the way they did? How did their military manage to innovate and learn the way it did? If the culture was all lockstep hierarchical discipline, top-down driven, how the hell did that happen?

    If you go looking for the answers, what you find is that the “conventional wisdom” isn’t quite so. The von Humboldt brothers are only the very tip of the iceberg–Actuality of things is that German education was a lot more liberal-in-the-classical sense than people suppose, once you dig into it. The question then becomes “How did the popular opinion of German education and culture become what it did…?”, and that’s when you enter the circus funhouse. Numerous American “reformers” went to Europe and looked at the way they were managing things there, and came away with a lot more of what they wanted to see, as opposed to what was actually going on.

    It’s an oddity of history that the Germans got this reputation for rigid authoritarianism, while the French are supposedly this bastion of liberal “let a thousand flowers bloom” thinking. The reality is that it was the French who instituted the system of grande ecoles that enshrine their graduates as the unquestioned “expert authority figures” that nobody is ever to question; it’s the French who tried to have every single school teaching the same subject out of the same book at the same time of the day, on the same day, across France. Yet, we all think of the Germans as being the ones that would do something so mad and yet essentially meaningless.

    You only have to look at the WWI tactical experience for the evidence of the reality–A French captain came up with a version of the tactics that underlay all modern combat, published a pamphlet on his ideas, and watched them be utterly ignored by the hierarchy. The Germans captured that little work, looked at it, and then said “Huh. This makes good sense… Let’s try it…”, and the ideas flowed up from the front lines and eventually across the entire German Army.

    That should make you start to wonder about the “conventional wisdom”. I know it made me do some thinking, once I got past the things I was taught as “correct”.

    You won’t find the things I base my opinion on anywhere in one place; you have to go digging into the things that were done in Germany and the rest of Europe starting in the 1870s, then look at the stuff that came back with all the Americans who went over there to study what they were doing, and came back. You rapidly reach the conclusion that men and women like Dewey were natural authoritarian tyrants, who went looking for the evidence and the reasons to justify their power-tripping ways, found them, and ignored the rest. What they came away with for impressions? That’s what’s ensconced in our collective memories and consciousness, utterly unaware that they were self-serving lies, meant to gain their perpetrators power.

    If you want a look at the reality, examine Finland: The Finns took up German educational and military philosophy wholesale. What do we have, when we go looking at Finnish education? Nothing but good things to say, because the results are very clear. Same with their military; the Finns are heirs to the German jager tradition, the light infantry formations that fought everyone they met to a standstill, often against insane odds. Just as the Finns went on to do in the Winter War, and the Continuation War…

    When you look at the contrast between what men like von Humboldt were doing, vice what our “reformers” came back and reported they saw, then examine the actual results as expressed in the economy and military that were created by the products of that educational system…? The cognitive dissonance ought to make your head explode. I know that it took me a few years to catch on to it all, but once you start to see the edges of it, you can’t un-see any of it.

    And, yes… There are features of the German culture that are very different than ours, that lend themselves to all the stereotypes. But, the catch is, the von Humboldt approach to these things was meant to reduce much of the ill-effects of that cultural tradition–And, I would suggest that a lot of it worked.

    It’s an historical irony that the French have the reputation they do for their liberal approach to education and everything else, when the reality is that they’re far worse when it comes to the automatic and unthinking obeisance to authority, as created by the grande ecoles system. The idea that the right way to do something could flow up from beneath, from the actual underclass minions? As opposed to the carefully tested and selected supermen of the various educational powerhouses? Anathema, to the French.

    The Germans have always been far more open to the talents, and that’s one of the primary reasons that they became the economic and military powerhouse that they did.

    It’s worth a look, to go digging into the background of all this. You can see it in much of our military system, where we said we were following the Prussian pattern, and yet actually adopted a lot of the French way of doing things–Which, again, was because the people who went off to Europe to study it were wanting excuses to build their power within the institution. The culture persists, to this day.

  7. All my kids are avid readers. I can hardly keep up with their appetites for more books, and I have to threaten to punish them if they won’t “turn off that light and get some sleep!” on a daily basis.

    The trick I used for this is so simple it should be obvious. If you want a teenager to be a reader then create a love of reading for them as youngsters (when the first begin to read). Don’t limit their library, find the subjects that excite them and set them free.

    If you want the youngsters to want to read, then sit with them as toddlers and before, and read to them.

    If they learn to read for pleasure, their horizons will expand on their own. Middle child, (12) loves mil sci fi, but is expanding to mil history, (he grabbed the translation of Xenophon of the book shelf and has started sampling that).

    Instead of lamenting how the schools are failing our children, start them out yourself and you will be pleased yourself.

  8. On the topic of German education, Kirk says a lot that is right but the Prussians were not the model. I think there was a tradition of education, Medicine is what I know best, that came from the rest of Germany. The Prussians were the military but the medical knowledge came from people like Billroth and Roentgen and Koch, none of whom were Prussian. One could make the argument that the Prussians led the rest astray.

  9. Mike,

    You really ought to do some reading on the issue. Much of the reforms we’re discussing actually came out of Prussia, and are not at all the sort of thing everyone associates with it all. The Wikipedia gives a good overview of how it progressed from the earliest days to what it became.

    Wilhelm von Humboldt was appointed minister of education in 1809; his influence over the course things took was immense.

    The whole thing is a requires a lot more background and reading than I can really effectively summarize here, but I assure you, the “rigid Prussian” idea everyone has is egregiously wrong.

    I’d put it to you like this, as well: If you’re aware of the impact that all those “other Germans” had on medicine, doesn’t that sort of call into question a lot of the conventional wisdom you might have heard about the rest of German culture/education…?

    I’m not saying that everything was ideal and perfect in German practice, either–Just that the vast majority of what “everyone knows” is, at best, highly inaccurate and entirely distorted. The reality is quite different than the perception, much of which has been shaped by anti-German prejudices stirred up by the British and Wilsonian propaganda dating back to WWI. Very little of it is actually at all accurate, or at all true.

  10. All I’m saying is that militarism came out of Prussia. Much of German culture was created elsewhere. I have been in long discussions about war guilt for WWI. I agree that the British were very good at propaganda and Wilson ruined any residual of German influence in the US. My uncle told me that Chicago public schools had portraits of the Kaiser until 1914. The Midwest had a huge German population. Paul Johnson in “Modern Times” blames Bismarck for much of the German paranoia about being surrounded by enemies. I blame the Boer War and Britain for much of the drive to build a “High Seas Fleet” by the Kaiser and Tirpitz. Tirpitz was an early supporter of the Nazis, by the way. The origins of WWI is a very complicated topic and I have read a number of books about it.

  11. I would have to question a lot of that premise, as well… Yes, the Prussians were prone to that, but an awful lot of the push to build a navy came out of the former Hanseatic city-states that were heavily involved in shipping.

    The conventional wisdom on anything is always worth questioning, and I think that it’s particularly worthwhile, here–The Prussian state was a lot more about “Let’s do what we need to do, to keep Germany and Germans from being the battlefield of Central Europe ever again…” than they were these “Let’s conquer the world…” types than most people presume. Militarism existed outside Prussia, within Germany–The Bavarians weren’t exactly innocent naifs, nor were the various other German statelets. They like to blame the Prussians, but the fact is, just like with Nazism, there were plenty of people who wanted to listen to the siren song right along with the Prussians.

    I’m not trying to excuse the evils of it all, just pointing out that the issue is a lot more complex and nuanced than people commonly realize. Yes, there was militarism, jingoism, and a whole lot of other issues going on within Germany–But, you also have to remember that the reason a lot of Germans pulled up their roots and moved elsewhere had to do with the fact that they wanted nothing to do with that BS at all. So, when you go looking at the Germans and blame them for the militarism and all the rest of the stereotypical BS that everyone does, you also have to include and factor in the Germans who fled that stuff, coming here to America and elsewhere. There was a distinct thread of that in German culture, but there were also other threads that intertwined that one, and which you have to make room for in your thinking.

    What aggravates me is that so many people never delve below the surface of the BS cant they were exposed to in school and popular culture, when the reality is there to observe if you just look and ask yourself how it is possible for the traditional view of rigid Prussian authoritarianism to be be accurate, when you have all this evidence that that didn’t actually exist, in practical terms…?

    I think it’s well past the time when we start to ask these questions, and then examine the real roots of where our problems lie. I think we’ve got a lot more that came from France than Germany, and that those French influences are actually the ones we need to root out and get rid of. The rigid authoritarian regime we actually take more from is that of the French; the mentality behind the “expert class” and the grande ecoles is far more French than we commonly acknowledge. It has been blamed on the Germans, but… I question the validity of that.

    I think it’s worth a look, to go back and actually examine the basic propositions put forward in the two different national systems; the Germans were more egalitarian, while the French were more “Let’s find those with merit, and enshrine them as the new nobility…”. Or, so goes my impression of it.

    And, in the end? I think that we’re living through the end-stages of this entire “expert class” mentality discrediting itself, world-wide.

  12. I think “Prussian authoritarianism” is pretty well established. One problem that Germany had is the late stage of unification. The same applied to Italy but Italy was always weak. The Germans were unified by war. Certainly the 1870 war was was begun, idiotically, by France. The war with Austria Hungary was the other big unifying war. A number of visitors began to comment on the Prussian attitude changes by 1890. Maybe this was all in the German character and unification let it out. Germans were eager for war in 1914. They were not in 1939.

  13. In the late sixties, in 5th grade, I was 10. They kept giving me crap to read that I had no interest in. I refused to read it. Got an “F” in reading that term.

    MEANWHILE, I was reading “2001: A Space Odyssey” — that was the year the movie came out. I did not understand all of it, and had to ask questions of adults once in a while, not all of whom (I now realize) understood my questionable parts, either.

    With another 2 years, I was routinely checking out the max allowed books at the local public library, and, I recall, in one case, some kids I did not know (they belonged to a friend of my mothers) in my room, spotting the stack of books, which I’d gotten the DAY BEFORE, and noting that I’d already read TWO of them…

    It’s not that freaking hard to get a lot of boys to read. Just stop trying to make them read utterly boring DRECK that no one not a senior in high school wants to even touch. Find a SUBJECT that interests them, and get them to read something in that arena. Encourage them (i.e., make it easy) for them to get more books of that type.

    I also recall that, by my senior year in high school (11 years, I’d skipped a grade), I was reading at a 15th year (i.e., college junior) reading level.

    Kids, by their natures, love to be transported to other places. Find a place and time and situation they want to be transported to, and let them Get At It.

    Trying to get them to read angst-driven adult BS lecturing and harping is the best way to make them HATE reading.

    TBH, My own suspicion is that the entire IDEA is to make you HATE reading by the time you get out of college, to make your brain associate it with pain and boredom… so that you never ever read anything ever again… and thus are readily fed the pablum they want you to be fed by the merdia.

  14. “I suppose the thinking among the great contemporary kid-lit authorities is that the kids who are wallowing in social/familial dysfunction, misery, gloom, despair, and sexual confusion should feel validated by reading all about it, and those kids who are not will yet have their consciousness raised.”

    Perhaps this says something about the psychological state of those Authorities themselves?

  15. }}} My pet peeve on the topic is how writers, editors, publishers, librarians, teachers, and parents are convinced – convinced! – that books for youngsters MUST have characters of the readers’ own age or the youngsters will reject them. I don’t think this is true at all, and as an example I’ll point to that popular book for youngsters about a 50 year old pipe-smoking bachelor.


    This goes hand in hand with the ludicrous notion that the graphics in children’s books must must must look as though they were drawn by a 6yo.

    Kids don’t want that crap. If they do, THEY CAN DO IT THEMSELVES!

    They want to see the things they’d do if the COULD draw like an adult does. They WANT the stuff Sir John Tenniel did for Alice. They WANT the kind of thing that John R. Neill, et al, did for the Oz books. They WANT the art by E. H. Shepherd from Winnie The Pooh.

    They want an image they can spin their own imagination off of as a starting point. That’s part of the genius of Bill Watterson with Calvin and Hobbes — he captures the imagination and spirit of a smart young boy, while still keeping you grounded in reality, and the difference between what he sees and what is real.

  16. }}} Middle child, (12) loves mil sci fi, but is expanding to mil history, (he grabbed the translation of Xenophon of the book shelf and has started sampling that).

    Vater: you may want to introduce him to Marc Alan Edelheit. He writes something that Amazon had to create a whole new category for: Military Fantasy.

    Think Romans — that’s what it starts with — Romans on another world (explanation of how they got there available in later books). Now slowly add Elves, Dwarves, Dragons, Orcs, and Gnomes. The military element is still very strong, and the battles are central to the storyline, so, even if fantasy is not huge in your oeuvre, it still may be entertaining.

    His first couple books are inexpensive — MAE knows how to get you hooked… the crack cocaine way.

    Look up “Stiger”, and the first book of that series (there is a parallel series which deals with “Lieutenant” Stiger rather than “Captain” Stiger — “Tales of the Seventh” — you could alternately start with the first book of that, too).

  17. “My own suspicion is that the entire IDEA is to make you HATE reading by the time you get out of college, to make your brain associate it with pain and boredom… so that you never ever read anything ever again… and thus are readily fed the pablum they want you to be fed by the merdia.”
    That is actually my own suspicion, OBH. That the educational industrial complex deliberately wants to keep kids bored, stupid and gullible.

  18. Kirk…interesting & relevant comments in the memoirs of the ex-Kaiser:

    “Another thing that struck me, in addition to the one-sidedness of the education in the schools, was the tendency, among youths planning their careers in those days, to turn their attention to becoming Government officials, and always consider the profession of lawyer or judge the most worthy goal…As long as the state consisted, so to speak, of government and administration, this tendency among German youths in the shaping of their lives was understandable and justified; since we were living in a country of officials, the right road for a young man to select was the service of the state. British youths of that time, self-reliant and made robust by sports, were already talking, to be sure, of colonial conquests, of expeditions to explore new regions of the earth, of extending British commerce; and they were trying, in the guise of pioneers of their country, to make Great Britain still stronger and greater, by practical, free action, not as paid hirelings of the state.”


    “To be sure, there were even then enterprising men in Germany—brilliant names can be cited among them—but the conception of serving the fatherland, not by traveling along a definite, officially certified road, but by independent competition, had not yet become sufficiently generalized. Therefore I held up the English as an example, for it seems to me better to take the good where one finds it, without prejudice, than to go through the world wearing blinkers.”

    Not sure how he squared those observations with the existence of successful & pioneering businesspeople, such as Walter Rathenau (who created the German version of GE) and the shipping magnate Albert Ballin (one of the small number of Jews who were considered to be personal friends of the Kaiser’s), and numerous others. But it’s interesting that Goethe made some similar comments about the suppression of the spirit of individuality, almost a century earlier:


  19. In order to have kids that like to read, they first have to learn to read well. Unfortunately, the schools seem to have forgotten how to teach – well pretty much everything. Fortunately, It’s pretty easy and, assuming you enjoy spending time with your kids, enjoyable to do it yourself. You start reading to, progress to reading with and end up building book shelves.

    Once they reach critical mass, no further input is really necessary, they’ll find what they want but a bit of gentle guidance will go a long way. Children are naturally the most curious creatures in the known universe, the only thing our schools seem good at is killing that.

  20. Find a SUBJECT that interests them, and get them to read something in that arena. Encourage them (i.e., make it easy) for them to get more books of that type.

    I found my cousin’s World History textbook from high school when I was about 12. It read like a novel. I lost it when my father sold the house while I was in California and have tried to find a copy for years. Speaking of libraries, I got in trouble when I was about 10 trying to check out “The Foxes of Harrow” a historical novel popular in 1948. Incidentally, the author was black and it sold a million copies. The librarian thought it was too racy for me and called my mother.

  21. “If you want the youngsters to want to read, then sit with them as toddlers and before, and read to them.”

    Yeah, doubled and re-doubled. Even before *reading* per se, hold a child in your lap with a book and touch the page. Picture books like _Good Dog, Carl_ tell a story without needing any text/words. But you are teaching how a book is held right side up, how a story flows from the left-hand page to the right-hand page, and how turning a page advances the story. You are teaching how to engage with the characters; remember what happened before; predicting what might happen next.

    A picture book with an “exploded diagram” of an interesting thing is similar. This is a dump truck, or a cement mixer, or a stalk of corn. These are the distinct parts. Each part has a name. This is corn. These are the roots, this is the stem, here are the leaves, this is the ear or the cob, on top are the tassles…

    Hold the child with a book on your lap.

    I was on a local school board and lamented that the “reading recovery” teachers, working one-on-one with 7- or 8-year olds who still hadn’t learned to read in the classroom, still were not holding or sitting alongside their students. “Oh, we can’t do THAT!” I was told. “We can’t get ‘physical’ with the students, the parents would have a FIT!” Apparently, though, allowing a child to emerge from the school system as a functional illiterate was an outcome parents and teachers could support…

  22. @David Foster,

    One of the things people fail to remember, when looking at the issue of just what the actuality of things like “German culture” really are is the fact that every nation, every culture, is actually made up of a bunch of different threads and thought lineages. Were you to look at the US strictly through the lens of the thinking that was prevalent in the South before the Civil War, you’d say “Those folks are all in favor of slavery…”, then extend that to the entire nation. Which is a false premise–While the South was indeed for slavery before the Civil War, there were many other equally American ways of looking at the issue, including the abolitionists and men like John Brown.

    What I’m trying to get at with what I’m saying is not to refute the arrant militarism and other issues in German culture, or to excuse it–What I’m trying to point out is that the issue is far more complex, nuanced, and filled with other equally German viewpoints that were in diametric opposition to the militarism and empire-building. You can’t simply write off the whole culture as being “this” or “that”, which is the thing all too many people do. Sure, there were a lot of rigidly authoritarian Prussians that thought in strictly hierarchical patterns, but then you look at where the Finns got all of their German military training, and it was from the Prussian jaegerkorps, which influenced their military down to this very day. So, you go writing off the Prussians as these rigid authoritarians, you’re making a huge mistake in terms of understanding the entire picture.

    The opposite problem is equally prevalent with the French; everyone automatically credits them with being the “Light of the World”, espousing all the liberal things about France and French culture, but at the same time, that ignores their mindless worship of authority and inability to accept that things worth knowing might rise up from the lower orders.

    I’d like to submit that dismissing any culture or civilization because of a singular perception is probably a bad idea; equally, mindlessly worshipping one without an open-eyed view of their vices while lauding their virtues is equally erroneous.

    I think we’ve made a mistake in writing off the Germans as these rigid and inflexible automatons, while ignoring the fact that there was a lot more flexibility and actual “learning organization” to their way of doing things than we’d like to admit. After all, the Germans did effectively adapt to the battlefield conditions of WWI, while the Allies didn’t do a very good job of it–The French, in particular. They were in denial about the reality of things until they could no longer close their eyes, after the mutinies.

    A capacity for being able to recognize reality when it is brutalizing your preconceptions, and then adapting to it? That was something that the French lacked, while the Germans had it in spades. What is unfortunate is that the blind worship of authority led the French down that primrose path of relying on elan, rather than admitting that no amount of morale can overcome massed machinegun fire.

  23. Some friends were putting together gifts for a young mother on the occasion of her second baby, and offered her some children’s books. She politely declined the latter: “We already have a book.”

  24. Kirk…I’ll certainly grant that the Germans seem to have been innovative in military matters, both at the strategic level and at the level of small-unit responsiveness to tactical situations…indeed, I might have thought that creative people who were barred from doing innovative work in *other* areas of the society would have chosen military careers for that very reason. But this wouldn’t explain German innovativeness in a whole range of industrial areas.

    And it’s interesting that the Kaiser’s observations, and those of Goethe (who lived in Weimar, not Prussia) are so parallel.

  25. @David Foster,

    As I’ve been saying… There’s more to the issue than the traditional dismissive “They were bunch of authority-worshipping militarists”. And, the big mistake we’ve been making is to put them all into that one narrowly-defined box, while ignoring the things that actually contradict the stereotypes. If the Germans actually conformed to the “conventional wisdom” stereotypes, they’d wouldn’t have been the threat they turned out to be, nor would they have gotten as far as they did.

    It’s a lot like the Japanese–Everyone put them into the box of “buck-toothed near-sighted little imitators” before WWII, and because of that, we didn’t take them seriously as a peer threat until they were bombing Pearl Harbor and blasting us out of the skies across the Pacific. It’s a dangerous thing, to put people into those preconceived boxes, and then fail to recognize the rest of who they are before those aspects trip you up. Not to mention, when you try to learn from them, you tend to go after the things you perceive, rather than the reality of it all. It’s pure cargo-cultism; instead of us being Pacific Islanders focused on all the goodies coming in, we’re looking at the forms of things, adopting what we think we see, and ignoring the very real substance that goes into making those things successful.

    A good example would be the way we looked at the German General Staff, copied what we thought were the key features, and managed to saddle ourselves with a French-style bureau system instead of the more free-form German framework that served to enable their talented tenth to contribute the most that they could. We aped the form, missed the substance, and to this day, we suffer from the ill effects of having done so. It’s an amazing thing, when you look at it with an eye towards figuring out what went wrong with all the reforms we thought we were making.

  26. Germans have spent almost all of their history as a collection of rumps that suffered from being in the way of larger country’s plans. This was especially true in the 30 Years war.

    “The Thirty Years’ War was a conflict fought largely within the Holy Roman Empire from 1618 to 1648. Considered one of the most destructive wars in European history, estimates of total deaths caused by the conflict range from 4.5 to 8 million, while some areas of Germany experienced population declines of over 50%.” Via Wikipedia.

    Not to mention Napoleon.

    It’s not surprising that one of the driving forces of unification was permanently ending that. The German school system evolved with the purpose of producing good Germans: workers, middle managers and, as it turned out, cannon fodder, not leaders. The aristocracy had that covered, thank you very much.

    Smart Germans that didn’t fit in, emigrated much to the advantage of the U.S. An interesting question is why German immigrants seem to have had so much less success in places like South America.

    The pattern throughout Europe was one of periodic wars and famines through the 20th century. The present peaceful interval which may be coming to an end is the longest since Roman times at least. It was the product of the two largest armies in history confronting each other in the middle of Germany.

  27. First I love it when Sarah does the headlines! I can spot them from a mile away. Secondly, I misread this headline as Wokeadoodle the first time through and now can’t get that term out of my head. It neatly sums up the state of Metanoids (sufferers of Metanoia) succinctly.
    I learned to read from my Mom she never went anywhere without a book in her purse. She got me started on the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift and all that ilk. When I read our assigned Jr. High school history book through in one week she got a call from the teacher because I asked too many questions. I still read three to four books a week with at least one nonfiction. The failing of most schools regarding reading is they assign whatever fad they are interested in rather than the students interest.

  28. I believe you are very wrong about transgenderism being a fad. Leftism is primarily about transgressing and destroying norms. The transgender craze is not about protecting the rights of those suffering gender dysphoria; it is about destroying the social legitimacy of the male-female binary. Because of this, transgenderism will increasingly give way to “non-binary-ism,” where it will be seen as retrograde, “hateful,” and even proto-fascist to identify as either male or female.

  29. My parents always had newspapers and magazines in the house, their 3 children observed them in the act of reading. (imprinting?) Father would make a weekly library run to the public library, we each had our own library card. There was an encyclopedia which I often picked a volume, paged through it, reading articles I thought were interesting on any subject. Highlight of my life was reading my first adult book: NO pictures!!. Reading has taken me places I have never been, met some incredible people, and been exposed to many thoughts and ideas. I feel truly sorry for those don’t read. I pity a civilization that doesn’t encourage reading and thinking!

  30. On transgenderism, remember that the Johns Hopkins sex change clinic was closed by the Director because 25% of their patients were coming back asking to return to their birth gender. There are a few genuine serious transgender people, usually adults. Dierdre McCloskey comes to mind, a serious economist who has written about the experience. What we are seeing now, I believe, is a teen fad that will fade.

  31. Once they reach critical mass, no further input is really necessary

    Oh how I HATED my parents telling me, “look it up”! I didn’t want to read with a dictionary next to me. “Critical mass” is a real thing. I managed Stephan Donaldson’s (fairly awful) White Gold Wielder without a dictionary as high school freshman. The one I remember to this day is “cerulean sky”. Seriously, “blue” isn’t good enough for you? (And, almost 40 years later, I still don’t know whether that is a hard or soft “c”.)

    Kindles make that so much easier, although tripping on unknown words is much rarer, now.

  32. Jack: “The transgender craze is not about protecting the rights of those suffering gender dysphoria; it is about destroying the social legitimacy of the male-female binary.”

    Very perceptive. I wonder if the transgender activists and fellow travelers realize the consequences of what they are doing? Essentially, it will lead to the end of the human race — or at least the end of a human race worth having.

    Notice how fatherhood has already been denigrated almost out of existence in “popular” (i.e Leftie) culture. Motherhood is going the same way. And that is at least partly responsible for the fall in child births below the 2.1 per woman necessary for a stable society. Transgenderism is simply another slice in this death by a thousand cuts.

  33. Bailey White wrote amusing books about her life in the Florida panhandle. She was a reading teacher who discovered that her kids couldn’t get enough of stories about shipwrecks. She taped over some paragraphs with simplified text for her youngest students, but found that they would claw up the tape to get to the text underneath. Give them something to read that they want to experience, and many of them will nearly teach themselves to read. Give them texts with all the appeal of appliance installation instructions and they will not.

  34. well the french did give us derrida foucault sartre, those three alone are a toxic stew, the Revolution was the forerunner of Bolshevism, Bonapartism a middle way, there is some sensible thinking from zemmour and even houllebecq, but he’s too addicted to the worship of the now,

  35. I am convinced that the only way to defeat the teachers union/ public education establishment is through vouchers and independent schools. I remember – back in the 70s? a Chicago teacher, Marva Collins I believe, was so disgusted she started her own school in her house for inner city children.

    The children that ordinarily would be destined to fail in a public school.

    Her rules were having to dress up – I think the boys had ties – these are young 10 years old? – forget what the girl’s dress code was.

    But they were reading Thoreau.

    But ads to your main point – I think it is the subject matter that turns off most children.

    In my world and a teacher, I would ask the children what interests them, then get books on that subject. You can be sure they would become avid readers.

  36. @Jack & Mike K,

    I think you’re both right, and you’re both wrong…

    The current transgender “fad” will fade, and the same lot of idiots will be on to the Next Big Thing(tm). The process will be observed to flow from “Transgenderism is now the norm; as such, it is no longer to be held up as transgressive enough for the cognoscenti to support…”.

    If you observe, this is how it goes with the transgressive population; they’re not really gay gay; they’re more “gay because that pisses everyone, especially the normies and the ‘rents off…”. Now that everyone is OK with gay, gay isn’t transgressive enough, it doesn’t provide the same frisson of disturbing the normies and frightening the horses… So, we’re off to find something that will serve better to do both, and it’s all about destroying that which they don’t like–Normalcy.

    What we’ve actually enabled with all this loving tolerance is a certain form of mental illness. There’s a percentage of the LGBTWTFBBQ community that are “legit gay/bi/lesbian/whatever” because they’re genuinely wired that way; there’s another percentage that’s of that persuasion because they want to get back at mommy and daddy dearest for whatever transgressions they feel were made against them in childhood, and they’ve determined that being in-your-face-gay/whatever is the best way to do that, the one that pisses mommy and daddy off the most.

    You can see this with certain behaviors; there’s a guy I’m thinking of whose parents are the salt of the earth and just great, deeply devout non-demonstrational Christians living out the word of Jesus Christ as they perceive it. Good people. Of their four kids, one was just this utter asswipe who decided to get back at them the most personal and destructive way he could think of–Identifying as gay. Thing was, they didn’t actually care, and were entirely supportive and loving about the whole thing. Which pissed him off even more, causing him to act out even more than he was. Eventually, he roped in some activist acquaintances to come in and disrupt Sunday services when his dad was doing the worship service as a lay minister, and did that under entirely false pretenses. It was bad enough that the activists wound up apologizing and leaving, once they figured out what was going on.

    There’s “gay due to nature” and there’s “gay ‘cos I want to piss everyone else off…”. The proportion between the two, out in the wild? No idea, but I do know that the fact that “gay is now acceptable” really pisses off the transgressive-for-the-sake-of-transgression types are really pissed off by that, so they’re moving through society, escalating. This is really the reason a lot of us were saying “slippery slope” about the whole thing with gay marriage–So long as that was the situation, the transgressives could stop there at that roadblock, and do their thing to their satisfaction, which was to thrust their deviancy into everyone’s face. When the issue became normed, that no longer worked for them, soooo… Here we are.

    You’re never going to make these people happy. They’re not transgender, most of them, because they’re deeply unhappy with their birth sex or whatever; they’re unhappy, period, and they’re working through their issues by getting in everyone’s face and being offensive. That’s the whole point of the exercise, and when it’s no longer transgressive enough, they have to move on to something that is, in order to get that same endorphin hit.

    So, yeah… In a way, the transgender “thing” is a fad; when they’ve normed it enough, they’ll move on to something else. And, judging from the way they’re going, I kinda expect it to be pedophilia or something else, just like all us “intolerant normies” were predicting, back in the day.

    I really don’t know what these people will move on to, when and if they manage to normalize even the most perverse deviancy. I mean, what the hell do you do, after you norm pedophilia? Move on to consensual human sacrifice? Cannibalism?

    Much as it pains me to say, because of the “normal gay/bi/lesbian” types I know, I think we should have set the firestop back at “gay”, because that’s a relatively harmless thing to leave unacceptable enough to provide the transgressives their little endorphin hits. By accepting and embracing the “lesser perversions” the way we have, we’ve made it almost mandatory for the freaks to move on to more and more outre deviancies. They’re never going to stop; once they make even pedophilia acceptable, they’ll have to find something else that’s going to piss everyone else off, so God alone knows where it all ends.

    Transgression is the point of it all; not transgenderism. That’s merely the latest expression of it. I think a lot of these people are genuinely mentally ill, along an axis we don’t normally think of as mental illness. Just like the majority of the left; the point isn’t that leftism works, or is better, it’s that it’s against everything else. The point isn’t Socialism or Communism, it’s tearing down the normies because they feel like they don’t belong with them; the leftism is a means of compensating. It’s the same basic syndrome, with a different expression.

  37. @Jack
    “The transgender craze is not about protecting the rights of those suffering gender dysphoria; it is about destroying the social legitimacy of the male-female binary.”

    A major part of it is the insistence that one size fits all, because that’s the natural way the State sees things. (Government Almighty: Blessed Be Its Holy Name!)

    Everyone has to fit neatly into one of the official pigeon holes, even if the number of official pigeon holes has to be multiplied. Being a “tomgirl” is not acceptable; if you are not a proper woman, ISO Standard, one each, then you are not a woman at all but instead must be put into one of the other 57 gender pigeon-holes. And for boys and men it’s even worse, because even on the traditional-values side there aren’t any terms for the male equivalent of “tomgirl” that aren’t insults.

    So it’s about destroying the social legitimacy of variation within a category, to the point of preferring gender dysphoria over the intolerable concepts of “Not all men are alike. Not all women are alike.”

  38. Kirk: “The current transgender “fad” will fade, and the same lot of idiots will be on to the Next Big Thing(tm).”

    You are undoubtedly right about that. If memory serves, there was a play in New York some years ago about bestiality — a guy who really loved his goat. Bestiality will be mainstreamed before pedophilia, in my guess.

    However, that is not the whole story. Yes, there are damaged people getting back at the world by pursuing the deviancy-du-jour — but there are not so many of them. The issue is the much larger number of “normal” Lefties on school boards and legislative bodies who support the public expression of that deviancy. Those Lefties are not themselves homosexuals or lesbians or transgendered or any other flavor, but they insist on defending and mainstreaming those deviances. Is this to prove to the world what good people they are, so much more tolerant than anyone else? Are they incapable of foreseeing the consequences?

    There is that saying ascribed to Mrs. Patrick Campbell that she did not care what people did, as long as they did not do it in the streets and frighten the horses. That is the kind of tolerance for others for which most of us are happy to sign up. But it does not seem good enough for the more activist deviants — they want to be admired for their deviancy.

  39. @Gavin,

    You really can’t draw a line between the transgressives acting out their sexual deviancies and the ones on the school boards and city councils that are sitting there saying that room must be made for these people. They’re all of a type; the transgressive deviants and their fellow-travelers that don’t feel the need to actually live out their deviancies are working together, fist-in-anus because they’re basically looking for the same things: Put the normies down, and put themselves on top. It’s a dominance thing, and they’re invested in the tear-down of the hated bourgeoisie more than anything else–Whatever tool comes to hand, they’ll use.

    Like I said… It can be analyzed as a mental illness of a particular type, sort of like an attachment disorder for their own culture and fellows within their originating social milieu. You see these kids all the time; they’re the ones who never quite “fit” in with any of the groups in their social environment. Sometimes because they did so willfully, sometimes not–In either case, they’re actively all about tearing it all down on the theory that whatever replaces it will be more to their liking.

    But, like with most of the “revolutionaries”, the fools fail to grasp that the revolution always eats its young, and will inevitably turn on them, before anyone else. It’s a law of nature; all you have to do is look at the Nazis, who first cultivated the gays and other social deviants, and then turned on them, putting them in camps. Rohm thought he was “in” with the new regime, not grasping that they had only ever seen him and his fellow homosexuals as mere tools, which were to be discarded once they’d done their job.

    Problem with all these people? They simply don’t read their history, and they’re too invested in their transgressivism to be able to step outside it all and examine what is really going on. Once the revolution becomes the new power, the new establishment, it cannot tolerate any form of transgression whatsoever, and so… Off to the death camps they go, all these valiant crusaders for deviancy. It’s happened innumerable times before, and it will happen again and again in the future.

  40. Kirk,

    Spot on with your last comment about the endgame. Anytime you find a ragtag group of transgressives, deviants, and nihilists, you will find power-hungry, iron-fisted, wanna-be-tyrants riding the revolutionary wave and biding their time. Stalin, Chavez, Mao… none of them believed a word of the Marxist drivel they spouted, but they were willing to enthusiastically mouth whatever they had to say to obtain power.

    When the fascists finally win — and given the lengthening tentacles of the surveillance state, the stranglehold on power by the Ruling Class, and the continued merging of Big Government and Big Tech, that seems almost inevitable right now — you are correct that the weirdos will suddenly find themselves on the other end of the whip.

    I have said this to transgressives who tell me I’m full of it. But I not only point them to political history but to recent cultural history. In the 60s, it was cool to transgress sexual norms and celebrate “free love.” Traditionalists warned that this was just giving men what they wanted and that women would be hurt, and we were called old-fashioned and sexist. But once the old norms had been completely destroyed, the revolution moved on, and suddenly we started hearing about “toxic masculinity” and “rape culture” and how college hook-ups are “violence” against women. College administrators who had all kinds of swinging fun back in their youth were suddenly issuing detailed rules on proper copulative behavior, and setting up kangaroo courts to punish men for their dates’ “regret sex.”

    Those of us on the right face a bleak future, but the radicals do, too. They’ll just be way more surprised than we will when the roof caves in.

  41. Oh, I don’t know that “we” face a bleak future. There’s always going to a need for reliable guards to man the prison watch towers, and who would ever trust the freaks with something like that? Better to co-opt the security forces of the former regime, who’ll gladly take over putting a boot to the throat of those who tore down the old gods and their temples…

    That’s the other thing that goes on, which the “deviant radicals” never seem to learn from either history or observation. They’re not trustworthy, ‘cos they’re the freaks, and the new regime ain’t about to give them any real power or position. So, they’ll be inside the camps while the hated “old regime” trustworthy types will be on the walls and watchtowers. It’s always been like that, and always will be.

    The thing is, you have to time your jump over to the new regime juuuuuust right; not too soon, and not too late. That’s always the key–Timing.

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