Sunday, February 3, 2013

What the Destruction of a Humanistic Education Would Entail

As you can no doubt tell, I'm pretty horrified at our new Governor's ideas and attitude concerning our education system here in North Carolina. As a personal aside, my dad, William N. "Red" Hicks, went to N. C. State College (now University) in Raleigh and graduated with a degree in engineering in 1919 or so. He then went on to achieve degrees in philosophy and in religion from Oberlin University, and from Duke. He returned to State as the wrestling coach, and taught classes in philosophy and religion. After over a decade of work, he convinced N.C. State to found a Department of Philosophy and Religion, of which he was the first Chairman. He built the department over the next twenty five years to a stature where it had (as I recall) five tenured professors. My father's argument to the Chancellor and Faculty, when he founded the Department, was simple. People studying technical subjects (State specialized in agricultural science, in various branches of engineering, in textile science, in architecture, in various other technical venues of study) need to be exposed to other essential aspects of the life they are going to encounter after they leave with their degrees. My dad's most cherished course, which he taught for most of his career, was a course called Marriage and Family Living. One of my fondest memories of my dad was going out to eat with him and watching, time and again, when former students would come up and thank him for that course.

Sheila O'Malley writes today of James Joyce and his great novel, "Ulysses."

There is nothing in the barren desert that Mr. McCrory imagines as an improved public educational system which could yield what Ms O'Malley here describes, this blossoming of thought and understanding. You might also find relevant her piece, just adjacent, on Mr. Roger's Senate testimony in 1969. Mr. Nixon was proposing to cut the budget for PBS in half.

Why there must be such endless refighting of clear and proven truths is really beyond me. I had exactly the same feeling of exasperation when President Bush began the 2nd Iraq War, and opened this era of apparently endless war, some ten years ago, after the events of 9/11.

The picture is of poppies, "escaped" and blooming in a brush pile a few years ago.


  1. your father was an enlightened man who understood what getting educated really means: not learning a trade and nothing but a trade, but learning how to think widely and broadly about life and the world.

    i love your line: "Why there must be such endless refighting of clear and proven truths is really beyond me."

    it is beyond me too. but i think it is deliberate.

  2. Plenty of folks have said to me that the plan is simple--keep the working people ignorant. (Toss into that concept various minorities, and of course women.) It's pretty hard to accept such cynicism in our fellow citizens, but it might be true nonetheless.