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The Decline of Literate Thought

'The tacit bond between teacher and student has now started to unravel. The covenant between the participants in the noble game of intellectual discourse must be predicated on the assumption of a possible mutual ideality, a striving to disengage the best self from the turmoil of appetitive claims and desires that obscure it. The teacher has to assume the role of committed intercessor, and the student needs to be willing to suspend an increasingly fashionable skepticism about the importance of humanistic scholarship and to struggle against the blandishments of a high-tech, instantaneous, digital milieu that will infallibly bankrupt him or her both materially and spiritually.

At the same time, many teachers have, by now, given up or become disablingly skeptical. Others teach not the curriculum but a politically correct travesty of what passes for genuine knowledge — Taqiyya for Kids, as Janet Tassel calls it in American Thinker, or Howard Zinn’s treasonably distorted history of the United States. A disturbing number of students have lapsed into a coma from which all too few seem likely to awaken. With a handful of redeeming exceptions, writers pander or traffic in technicalities. Like the students they once were, most readers wish to be stroked, not struck.

The decline of education, which means also the fading out of historical memory and the dimming of literate curiosity, has been the case for some considerable time now. The insistent question is: how does one go about trying to rescue a culture in the throes of custodial dissolution?'

- David Solway, 'The Decline of Literate Thought.'


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