“An Essay on Modern Education” by Jonathan Swift (c. 1720)

“Displeased Frenchmen are displeased” – Kip Mooney

“An Essay on Modern Education” by Jonathan Swift (c. 1720)

  • After a lot careful reflection, I’ve come to conclusion that the wealthier you are, the worse your education is & if the whole world were under just one king, his son would be the dumbest person to have ever lived
    • It wasn’t always this way because before, if you could afford it, you’d stock your shelves with some Greek & Roman texts & magically, you’d get smart kids
    • But the Scots don’t have moronic noble children
    • If I said the wealthier the family, the dumber the kid, I’d be causing a lot of offense & scandal
      • So, I’ll just say that rich kids need a little more than what they’re getting
  • Why is it that government business is now run by the common class?
    • Under the original Stuarts, the ministers were all of nobility & during the Commonwealth, the nobility had turned all their kids into idiots
    • With the Restoration of the monarchy, they aren’t capable of anything
    • Probably out of necessity to have commoners run the country
      • Even Prime Ministers because any skill or knowledge is gone from nobility
    • All able men are private, maybe with money but no titles
  • So, who’s been teaching the noble youth so badly?
    • They would seem to have enough money & influence to get the best teachers
    • Maybe the lack of a need to work makes them weak & sluggish
    • Perhaps it’s the parents & teachers indulging the children & somehow they expect them to learn without studying
  • Many people think studying the Greeks & Romans is a waste of time & that disciplining a child breaks his spirit, that speaking French, knowing proper refined etiquette, fencing & dancing is more gentlemanly behavior
    • Those who went to Flanders in the last war brought back all sorts of fancy habits & customs, & it caught on with the noble classes
  • I remember overhearing a conversation between a clergyman & a nobleman at a coffeehouse
    • The clergyman was exercising a thirst for knowledge & friendship, while the gentleman was spouting out the worst examples of nonsense I’ve ever heard
    • Often the nobility find the competent commoners to be stupid
  • Another problem is rich & noble families hiring French tutors & the mothers don’t allow their sons to play or get dirty
    • The kid stops growing mentally at 8 & stays at that mental age the rest of his life – no changes
    • He’s only taught he’ll get land & money, & needs no books. He’ll stay stupid for the rest of his life
  • One young lord I know of was accidentally taught & disciplined. It caused a real scandal for him to be taught properly & not treated properly & no better than any of the common boys
    • I hope it continues just for the sake of an experiement
  • It’s true that some people leave Oxford or Cambridge only learning to smoke & drink
    • Probably only because that’s all that was ever expected of them & really just wanted to get away from their parents’ home
  • Books read at schools ought to instill virtues & discourage vices & expose the young to good & hate evil, which would increase as they continue their education
    • But so often the temptations of youth & wealth draw them away from following good
    • Still, with the foundation, they usually go in the right direction despite straying from time to time
  • Unfortunately, an essay’s too small of a space for this discussion
    • I should say those responsible for writing laws & executing them should not be ignorant of virtue & vice
      • Shouldn’t be exposed to idiotic forms of schooling like those of the nobles
      • Why learn when it doesn’t help you in your life?
  • Perhaps this is God’s way of renovating the ruling classes by circulating new people into power
    • If a greedy, cruel man owns a neighborhood & bullies his tenants, he’s not likely to instill virtues in his kids
      • A slothful son pisses his money away & lives a sinful life
      • They both live sinful lives & the titles they pass on are held but only by sinful men passing on sinful habits
      • The new class of politicians talk of nobility without merits to be dangerous & this is God’s way of re-balancing everything

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