Uncategorized

EMPIRE

In some of these posts I am going to comment on the concept of Empire. It has been with us since the 1840s with Manifest Destiny when we expanded into much of Mexico. While this was the result of a mistake on the part of Major General Zachary Taylor when he crossed the Rio Grand and Polk decided to go to war without a declaration. However, in 1898, at the urging of publishers William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, Congress declared war on Spain. The pretext was the explosion (probably from the boiler) of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor. The result of the war was the acquisition of Spain’s overseas empire—most notably the Philippines.

President McKinley opposed the war and was not thrilled with the new territories with the expenses involved in their maintenance. When Roosevelt became governor of New York, McKinley breathed relief that he would no longer have to deal with Teddy. Rudyard Kipling dusted off a poem he had written, and then rejected, for Queen Victoria’s jubilee. In a magnificent dose of irony Kipling ridiculed Roosevelt’s thirst for empire. A note here is that Kipling was born and grew up in Colonial India and he was also raised to third degree in a predominantly Hindu lodge.

WHITE MAN’S BURDEN

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper–
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard–
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:–
“Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?”

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Ye dare not stoop to less–
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To choke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Have done with childish days–
The lightly proferred laurel
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

Our old friend Anonymous added fuel to the fire in the New York World on July 15, 1899.

 Weve taken up the white man’s burden:

Of ebony and brown;;

Now will you kindly tell us, Rudyard,

How we may put it down? 

 Americans were not entirely excited about this Empire. And they were of the opinion that we should not be involved. The chorus to a popular broadside and vaudeville song went.

“Damn, damn, damn the Filipinos!
Cut throat khaki ladrones!
Underneath the starry flag,
Civilize them with a Krag,
And return us to our beloved home.”

Kipling is thought to be the poet of Empire he was not really happy with the idea of jingoistic boasts and belief in military force, as reflected in the poem he substituted. It was a hymn I learned in my youth that we sang to the tune of Faith of Our Fathers. When the Episcopal Hymnal was revised in 1982, it disappeared but I think it appropriate. It was called Recessional.

God of our fathers, known of old—
Lord of our far-flung battle line—
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
The tumult and the shouting dies—
The Captains and the Kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
Far-called our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard—
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!

Further, those who wish to see what Kipling would have to say about our adventure in Afghanistan should read Kim. This describes the situation in that part of the world as the nineteenth century was closing. And there is little difference today. Afghanistan is still a loose collection of tribal regions living in the eighth century, but now they have 20th century weapons.

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Free Society

Citizens United

Right decision – Not the strongest theory

There is a serious problem with the reaction to the Citizens United decision. It revolves around the lack of critical thinking fostered by our education system. The history teacher I had in eighth grade tended to explain the Bill of Rights from a book he had been assigned in college. So he had neat phrases such as “the Founders did not understand the problems of our changing society,” followed by “the Founders were deliberately vague so that we could reinterpret based on changes in society.”

On the other hand I did have a teacher in eleventh grade (his masters was from Kansas State University where I had planned to get a PhD, but thought better of it) who liked going to original documents. And I had a teacher in college who was a Democrat who talked like Barry Goldwater and assigned original sources. So I have examined documents, cases, and extant commentary from the period.

Citizens United involves the First Amendment. To be clear we shall put the text right here.

 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 This is not a grant of rights to an individual. Rather it is a prohibition on governmental action. The argument I heard in eighth grade was that it did not apply to commercial speech. It was 1958 and we were in the midst of arguments in the press on “false advertising” and “advertising that was harmful.” Now, looking at Ben Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette you will notice advertising on Page 1. I wrote an essay in high school journalism on the annoyances of radio advertising, holding up the BBC (which I could get on shortwave) as an example. My teacher, deciding this was a “teachable moment” explained that BBC was a government enterprise, somewhat like Pravda and was this what we really wanted. It was a real fiery essay too, but I did rewrite it sans feu and it was not the same. She also showed where I could find the First Amendment and the report of the John Peter Zenger trial.

At any rate Citizens United is a case about political speech. It arose out of the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection Act which limits political speech. The public is best served when the media and advocates refrain from writing about incumbents in a window before an election. While the recognized media are “protected” by the First Amendment, McCain-Feingold took on corporations and unions. The theory was that they are not “persons” for the purpose of First Amendment protection.

The Court went off into drivel about the fact that corporations (unions are also corporations) are persons for the purpose of suing or being sued. This is what causes most of the rancor on the part of progressives. What the Court should have done is gone back to the most liberal defender of the First Amendment, Hugo Lafayette Black who argued that “Congress shall make no law,” means “Congress shall make no law.” This was a running argument between Black and his colleague William O. Douglas who advocated a “balancing test” and seldom met a regulation he did not like.

That theory, however, would have required the Court to throw out all of McCain-Feingold if not the entire federal election law itself. That is something the Court has not done for some time—in 1939 they upheld the power of the government to tax a sawed-off shotgun under the National Firearms Act but used a test of military utility to declare that the weapon did not fall under the Second Amendment. Every decision seems to leave further litigation as an option—expect McCain-Feingold to appear under a different name before a future court,

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Education

Feral swine

I knew the subject would come up eventually.  When I hunt small game such as rabbits or squirrels I use a Ruger 10-22 with a standard magazine, I carry in a cross-draw or hip holster an old .44 magnum revolver with loads I loaded some time ago.  When I would get a tag and carry a 7×57 rifle, the .44 would ride at the side.  Do I fear lions, wolves or coyotes?  No.  The only wildlife I fear in Kansas is feral swine.

How do feral swine (sometimes referred to as wild hogs) differ from their domestic counterparts?   Some wildlife biologists in Michigan have started listing the characteristics that make these downright nasty critters so dangerous that they must be destroyed.  As of 1 April 2012 hunters will destroy these animals and will arrest farmers for keeping and breeding.  Feral means that domestic animals have escaped into the wild and propogated their species outside custody.  There is no difference between domestic hogs and their feral counterparts–they are the same breeds and produce the same meat products.  The difference–and any farmer or hunter in Kansas or Missouri can tell you–is confinement and fencing.  Domestic swine are fenced or penned.  Swine not meeting those criteria are fair game.

Some useful hints in dealing with free running swine.

1.    Before going on a hunt, be sure you know the law and regulations for your state,

2.     Use a repeating large calibre rifle or slug bearing shotgun.  It is essential because of the damage a wounded beast can do.

3.     If you must use black powder or bow you should use a treestand so as to be out of the way.

4.     If you are a landowner and there are reports of feral swine in the area, make sure you and your hands and adult family are armed when travelling the land.  Keep children safe indoors or in fenced areas.  Recommended firearms–repeating 12 gauge shotgun with slug or rifle of at least 7mm.

5.     Avoid campaigning or voting for feral swine at the local, state and national levels.

I should point out that it was more than forty years ago that I pissed off my grandfather’s boar and suddenly discovered that I did know how to climb a fence quickly.  It was quickly in the perception of my cousin but I perceived it as a good quarter of an hour.  The personality is the same, the meat is mostly the same.  Confinement is the difference.

There were some game ranches in Texas where Russian Boars were let loose to be hunted and got away.  These cause serious problems so landowners should be wary–and armed.  I have not been able to trace down the rumor that they became walk ons at Arkansas.  But that’s strictly a Southeast Conference problem.

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Education, Free Society

The Classics v. Dewey

(c) Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

The problem with our schooling, especially after the primary level is the disjointed nature of classes. We compartmentalize into English, social studies, math, science, foreign languages, art, music, home economics, shop, physical education. And, as a rule, they are compartmentalized by different binders or by the tabs in a big binder. And then we have certain health courses the school does not trust parents to handle.

And there are tests. These tests are supposed to help place students in the “appropriate” program. In other words if a test showed a certain aptitude the student would go into an “academic,” “vocational,” “general” or “remedial” program. But fear not there are educational psychologists who intervene to tailor the results to the specific student.

It’s like the student is placed in a special needs category and is supposed to stay there. One year he is placed in kindergarten rather than first grade so he may be sent half day for speech, physical and occupational therapies. Then when he is promoted to first grade in a different school system, he gets placed in the “slow” group. Having been held back, he can only hope he is able to catch up in a system that does not believe in that sort of thing. While he is bored silly by Dick and Jane and Spot. (Hint: A segment called “Dick goes joyriding in Jane’s dad’s car” might liven it up.) Meanwhile he is in confirmation class where the primary text predates Bill Shakespeare and the reference text follows on. The result is an ability to read “early modern English” before Rudolf Flesch approved texts. And the past seven generations on his mothers side have learned to read this way. But it is 1951 and we have “professional” teachers and educators who know how this is to be done. He scraped through first grade and ended up in second grade in a mixed (2-3) classroom. Over the summer he had devoured (as the Prayer Book says, “read, mark and inwardly digest. (It may be in the Bible too, since it contains more than 4000 quotations from the Book of Common Prayer.) several of the small 25 cent (read $4.95) classics his aunt had sent him for Christmas over the past couple years. By May of the next year he had mastered the second and third grade material and was doing math with the sixth grade—apparently country schools in Wyoming are more flexible than schools in Suburban Denver. The young man was supposed to move to the 4-5-6 classroom, but politics being what they were the next two years were spent in the suburban school where the natural progression was in the other five Commandments that were dropped in Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part I. So it is back to standard progression all the way through high school. Having talked to admissions people he would have been admitted to the Regis College at the end of his junior year, but his parents preferred he do it the right way at this point and it was probably a matter of money as well.

The problem was that the classes are separate and need to be taken in a certain order. I have a certain knowledge of this and if you have made the guess that the above hypothetical is not only factual, but autobiographical, you get the cigar. It has been years since I have thought this all the way through and this is the first time I have written it down. Fortunately I have things to do rather than be bitter.

So I see a middle school set up on the classical format as a time to do two things. A held back student has the opportunity to move forward because of the format. And the liberal arts provide a level of unity in an otherwise disjointed and hostile wasteland.

The other day I was sitting in IHOP sipping raspberry iced and working on a blog article on the trivium and quadrivium.  Thanks to Cassiodorus and Beothius these concepts crept into the then neoclassical system of education for the elite.  We call it the late classical or neo-Platonic movement which lasted into the enlightenment.  Somehow the Prussian movement in education disregards the liberal arts as not relevant to learning a marketable trade.  (The Prussians also developed the drill and training system that is the basis of learning skills which have no use in civil society.)  I disagree and tend to believe (with Adam Smith) that the sons of nobility and the sons of crofters differ only in their early education.

The Trivium means three ways which meet.  Those are Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric.  (St Patrick, on a fine March day in the fourth century, used a shamrock to explain this to the Irish who had no trouble understanding the concept of Triune gods.1)  Some of my teachers taught this without naming it because the name was kept out of the lesson plan by some thankfully subversive teacher attempting to slip in the classic system unbeknownst to the director of curriculum.  When I went to the University of Denver (at that time still nominally Methodist) it was right there in the textbook–the Logic and Rhetoric of Grammar.  At this  point I was tired of diagramming sentences and I felt everything about writing could be found in Strunk and White–this was a book I found in high school journalism which I clung to with the fervor a newly converted Evangelical held for the 1611 King James Bible.  But I came, over years to the point where I believe, in writing at least, that logic and structure are as important as expression.  I believe anyone who has graded freshman compositions in the last 20 or so years would probably agree.

But that morning I was looking at the subjects we call the Quadrivium:  Numbers, geometry, music, astronomy.  I see the relationships.  To anyone who doubts the relationship of music to astronomy (the mother of all the physical sciences) I refer two names; J.S. Bach and Johann Pachelbel.  But today I realized that within each art of the Quadrivium the Trivium resides.  There is a grammar, a logic and a rhetoric(expression) for numbers, for geometry, for music, for astronomy.  And further, the roads do not run straight to the center, but rather weave and intersect at various points on the road to knowledge.

Some further explanation on each of the arts is in order. Numbers, in base 10, let us add, subtract, multiply and divide. We count money, we count days between phases of the moon to plant, we estimate differences, we place odds. Arithmetic (pr: erith-met-ic) is the base upon which numerical arts are based. And we move from arithmetic into algebra and eventually into the calculus that explains the physics. Educators may say there is not time in middle school for children to learn algebra—that is a high school subject. I answer that the time wasted in six weeks of mindless review every year from grade three on is plenty of time. By first semester of seventh grade—or second form if you call it that—the student should be ready. And we need to stop using the term children. As long as we do, we do not expect them to develop independence—the independence needed to succeed.

And by eighth grade we are ready for geometry. None of this artificial Dewey contrived readiness theory really matters here. Geometry is almost pure logic. Once you start showing side-angle-side = side-angle-side it makes sense. The students have the ability to use straight edge and compass. They can do the work. It would make sense to incorporate mechanical drawing into this year.

Music. In sixth grade in Nebraska we learned the structure of the band and orchestra—an orchestra is a band with strings except in Texas where you gotta have a fiddle in the band. We learned what the scales meant and we did an intensive study of Scherazad which took us into Persian stories of love and adventure. The teacher showed us how octaves are set, but did not go into the mathematical structure of sound and rhythm. Disney took up the slack in Donald in Mathmagic Land2. And the music of the spheres is apparent in much of the major works.

Astronomy: Physical science began with the study of the stars and the seasons, Numbering the days until the floods come. Seeing the myths played out in the heavens. Looking through this new optic device and charting movements. Watching galaxies explode and which way the gaseous clouds spread. And from this we develop physics and chemistry to explain this. The weather and the sun and moon. Navigation was based on watching the stars and then time. The Pyramids. As with chemistry, physics, biology snd the earth sciences, we cannot in a semester or a year get anything but an introduction. But this needs to be in the mix.

So this gives a basis to make the students better as they go into the four years of high school—or into a trade school. The classical curriculum will give a rational basis for the choice. And it will give students a rational basis to evaluate what they are told in high and to frame the proper questions to clarify the information.

This is the actual reason there will be objection to this model. The “professionals” take their orders, not from rational discourse but from policy. And that policy emanates from UNESCO, AFT, NEA, the US Department of Education, Columbia University and the University of Chicago.

Footnotes:

  1. For those of you puzzled about my reference to the good St Patrick, the Irish know that on a warm spring day they often find their morels among the shamrocks.
  2. Disney, 1959. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRD4gb0p5RM
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Uncategorized

Defense, production, and Executive Powers

(c) Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

On Friday, March 16, 2012, the President signed an Executive Order giving the executive authority to nationalize industry, initiate selective service, and seize infrastructure.  For authority he cited “the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States,”  The Order–not yet numbered–was issued by the White House Press Office.  The link is as follows.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order-national-defense-resources-preparedness

I went over the document as well as the statute referenced and, while I have not done the exhaustive analysis that a law review article or court brief would require, I am neither applying for an adjunct professorship/federal judgeship nor am I being remunerated to write an appellate brief. That said, there are a few things I would point out.

The Defense Production Act of 1950, as Amended [50 U.S.C. App. § 2061 et seq.] was legislation in place when President Truman to seize the steel mills and railroads.  The US Supreme Court slapped down Truman’s action in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952). There was at one time a provision in the Act for seizing necessary assets but Congress repealed that article.  If I read this correctly, the executive order restores the powers by not providing for seizure  per se but by redirecting the use of facilities. This is sometimes referred to as the Mussolini approach.   Query whether Friendly Quaker Industries, maker and purveyor of  plowshares, could be compelled to repurpose and/or retool the factory for the production of bayonets.  And query whether an executive order may go beyond the powers in the statute.  The not so hidden hand of  Cass Sunstein (whose works lack the socially redeeming virtues of those of Cass Elliott2) is apparent in this document.

Evidently the executive branch has the unilateral authority to determine whether there is an emergency.  Could this include (as with John Adams) that segments of society are not paying the Government proper respect.3

The question would be whether the current Supreme Court would follow the Youngstown precedent. Hugo Black, possibly the most liberal justice of the 20th Century (within a year he would become the primary justice taking the side of plaintiffs in Brown v Board of Education, cutting through the arguments and asserting that separate is unequal) wrote the decision. He was joined in his absolutist view by William O. Douglas. It all depends on whether the government can distinguish the case and whether they can convince either Alito or Kennedy.
Footnotes:

  1. It has been more than thirty-five years since I really wrote like this. After reviewing the sentence from an English major’s perspective, I concluded that it makes sense with Santa’s contracted elves (independent clauses).
  2. California Dreamin’ for one.
  3. See what Adams had to say regarding an editor named B.F. Bache.
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Compleat Idler, Education, Free Society, Humor

Political Seasons

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

The Kansas Republican Caucuses are over, and with them the robo-calls.  I did get one call from a person during the run-up.  I happened to answer it and it was a poll.  Fortunately I had the right answer (Ron Paul) and it was a very short call.  At that point I quit answering the land line–anyone I want to call me has my cell number (XXX-XXX-XXXX).  So the calls are over until after the Conventions when we will get hit with–I don’t want to know.

Then there is the junk mail.   My wife has been getting surveys from various groups since last September at least reminding her to “renew” her membership in various committees she has never been a member of.  As a Democrat she gets letters from Nancy Pelosi. Joe Biden. Michelle Obama and sometimes even President Obama.  She also gets mail from every Democratically affiliated organization.  And every one contains an important survey or petition along with a request for money and a reminder of the doom which will befall the country if President Obama is not reelected.

Since I am registered Republican (I did register as a Democrat a couple of times to participate in a primary but that’s just a Kansas thing) I have not been getting much from the Party.  This may be due to the fact that they take me for granted, but it’s probably because they don’t have a candidate so they don’t have a message.  I do get information from a number of their affiliate groups.  And every one contains an important survey or petition along with a request for money and a reminder of the doom which will befall the country if President Obama is reelected.

At any rate, the real campaign starts Labor Day.

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Education

Can Middle Schoolers Learn the Trivium

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

One of the problems of students learning to write clearly is that they do not think clearly. It is more important that students are able to articulate ideas in a manner that is understood than that they be able to “express themselves” in whatever fashion happens to suit them at the moment.

In some ways schools teach their students what to think, but they have trouble teaching them how to think, partially because teachers are themselves conditioned rather than educated. By this I mean they are put through a curriculum that requires study of behavioral sciences and measurements that tell them how approach teaching as if method were somehow separated from and superior to subject matter.

So when you move students from a single classroom to a multi-classroom environment there are changes. For one thing, sixth graders, while they have a range of abilities, are essentially young men and women. There is no reason to treat them as children. They will either meet expectations or they will not. Baden Powell took 22 young men to Brownsea Island and gave minimal direction—relying rather on leadership and his leadership produced leadership in the young men and they formed into patrols and the experiment succeeded.

The question becomes: Can sixth graders handle the Trivium? Can the middle school crowd handle the Quadrivium? What we’re talking about here are the classical liberal arts: grammar, rhetoric, dialectic; arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. It sounds daunting, but if broken down, it is not that difficult. It is simply that “educators” have decided on a curriculum that will stretch out the number of years in secondary education. In my grandparents’ day, eighth grade was a challenge and the eighth grade exams were difficult. These were phased out by the “reformers” because childhood needed to extended.

At the turn of the twentieth century this transformation into the modern school system was taking place. Arithmetic functions were taught from first through eighth grade and algebra did not come until ninth. Curricula were developed to be “age appropriate” per a curriculum which was predetermined. So the arithmetic functions I studied in eighth grade were the same ones I learned in a joint second-third grade classroom in a country school in Wyoming. And the first six weeks of math every year were “review.” The only saving grace we had in eighth was that the teacher decided to do a week on alpha-numeric codes and we had a week on statistics. Actually, we learned that dice when thrown have a one in six chance of landing so the dots on top add up to seven. But other than that it was boring.

The trivium is supposed to be learned first. Grammar is the structure of the language. English, like German, evolved from Norse with migrations from the north. What we often refer to as grammar is really a preferred style of writing and speaking. Diagramming sentences superimposing Latin structures on a language that is structurally different makes sense only to those indoctrated by schools of education—note: I was an expert at diagramming but my father majored in Latin and I took four years in class and another in independent study.

Rhetoric is how we convey ideas through writing and speaking, how we convince people we know what we are talking about.  The charge that writing is “just rhetoric” implies that this is somehow bad.  Those who do not study and learn are handicapped in work and ordinary discourse.  And yes, middle schoolers can learn the art.

Dialectic is on one of the lists–I prefer the term logic.  Those who do not learn logic cannot discern and process what they hear or read.  Because 1+2=3 is meaningful in a base 10 numeric system.  It does not relate the same in base three. Logic teaches how to break  down syllogisms to determine truth or deception.  Politicians, insurance salesmen and even teachers will make assertions that pass as fact.  They may sound reasonable but the key in logic is will they hold up?

The ability of the eleven to fourteen age group is assessed differently in an educational system than it may exist in fact.  I have worked with scouts who have passed the requirements for a badge called Citizenship in the world.  They not only have done the requirements but have explained to me the false premises in the support pamphlet.  And these are thirteen year olds.

Will they master the trivium.  Eventually, maybe.  What I am saying is that it is time to begin and there needs to be exposure to all the classical liberal arts at the point that the young are breaking away from being pupils to becoming students.

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