Then and NowMy first and last care is not politics (a late-learned duty) but education (an abiding passion). Education seems to me inherently conservative, being the transmission, and thus the saving, of a tradition’s treasures of fiction and thought…. But education is also inherently imaginative, because from pre-school to graduate school, it consists, or should consist, primarily of learning to read books (in whatever format), books of words, symbols, diagrams, musical notes. For entry into all of these, but perhaps books of words above all, imagination is indispensable… What matters most is, as I must repeat, the education of children. Looking at them from the vantage point of their future teacher, I would wish this for us: that their memories be stocked with the finest products of the tradition and their minds be— gently— turned toward the outside in close looking and articulate verbalizing, and toward the inside in absorbed reading and ready visualizing. Just forget for a while about ‘preparing them for tomorrow’ and ‘for being productive members of today’s society’— all that routine drivel deserves scare quotes since it’s meant to turn us into sacrificial victims on the altar of utility. —Then & Now: The World’s Center and the Soul’s Demesne, by Eva Brann (Paul Dry Books, 2015).

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

We hope you will join us in The Imaginative Conservative community. The Imaginative Conservative is an on-line journal for those who seek the True, the Good and the Beautiful. We address culture, liberal learning, politics, political economy, literature, the arts and the American Republic in the tradition of Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Edmund Burke, Irving Babbitt, Wilhelm Roepke, Robert Nisbet, Richard Weaver, M.E. Bradford, Eric Voegelin, Christopher Dawson, Paul Elmer More and other leaders of Imaginative Conservatism. Some conservatives may look at the state of Western culture and the American Republic and see a huge dark cloud which seems ready to unleash a storm that may well wash away what we most treasure of our inherited ways. Others focus on the silver lining which may be found in the next generation of traditional conservatives who have been inspired by Dr. Kirk and his like. We hope that The Imaginative Conservative answers T.S. Eliot’s call to “redeem the time, redeem the dream.” The Imaginative Conservative offers to our families, our communities, and the Republic, a conservatism of hope, grace, charity, gratitude and prayer.

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2 replies to this post
  1. On the news this morning, I heard that San Antonio was getting a pre-K through college program together. (Yesterday’s news told us that this is a city with a lot of start-ups, “the northernmost city of Mexico”.) The idea is to fast-track people for jobs.

    Yes, that’s what it’s all about–jobs. I remember teaching chemistry to pre-nursing candidates in a state college setting 14 years ago. Become a respiratory nurse, it was $100,000 a year back then. Or going back around 28 years, I remember a young lady in college that had been in my organic lab (we were both students) telling me that she had been accepted to medical school in Chicago, and that doctors make $80,000 per year. Nothing about helping people, just the paycheck, although who knows what else she had in mind. STEM–science, technology, engineering, and mathematics–now THAT’S where the jobs are.

    If you don’t like science, you can always become an MBA, or a lawyer. Morals? Ethics? Culture? Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle? Religion? Those are so outdated.

    It’s too bad. Like the Nazis, we can become scientific and efficient, yet lose our moral, religious, and cultural grounding. And look where that leads.

  2. Howard, let’s not be too hard on these kids. College is incredibly expensive. It’s not a moral failing for a young person carrying around 6 figures in debt to want a high paying job.

    And let’s face it: Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato aren’t for everyone (or even very many people). As Charles Murray points out in his book Real Education, the number of young people who are both capable and desirous of achieving a true liberal education is very small. That may be unfortunate, but is a fact nonetheless.

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