At the end of his course, he was required to compose a thesis upon sometheme set by his masters or chosen by himself, and afterwards to defendhis thesis against the criticism of the faculty. By this time, he wouldhave learned--or woe betide him-- not merely to write an essay on paper,but to speak audibly and intelligibly from a platform, and to use his witsquickly when heckled. There would also be questions, cogent and shrewd,from those who had already run the gauntlet of debate.
It is, of course, quite true that bits and pieces of the mediaeval traditionstill linger, or have been revived, in the ordinary school syllabus oftoday. Some knowledge of grammar is still required when learning a foreignlanguage--perhaps I should say, "is again required," for duringmy own lifetime, we passed through a phase when the teaching of declensionsand conjugations was considered rather reprehensible, and it was consideredbetter to pick these things up as we went along. School debating societiesflourish; essays are written; the necessity for "self- expression"is stressed, and perhaps even over-stressed. But these activities are cultivatedmore or less in detachment, as belonging to the special subjects in whichthey are pigeon-holed rather than as forming one coherent scheme of mentaltraining to which all "subjects"stand in a subordinate relation."Grammar" belongs especially to the "subject" of foreignlanguages, and essay-writing to the "subject" called "English";while Dialectic has become almost entirely divorced from the rest of thecurriculum, and is frequently practiced unsystematically and out of schoolhours as a separate exercise, only very loosely related to the main businessof learning. Taken by and large, the great difference of emphasis betweenthe two conceptions holds good: modern education concentrates on "teachingsubjects," leaving the method of thinking, arguing, and expressingone's conclusions to be picked up by the scholar as he goes along' mediaevaleducation concentrated on first forging and learning to handle the toolsof learning, using whatever subject came handy as a piece of material onwhich to doodle until the use of the tool became second nature.
This reminds me of the grammar of Theology. I shall add it to the curriculum,because theology is the mistress-science without which the whole educationalstructure will necessarily lack its final synthesis. Those who disagreeabout this will remain content to leave their pupil's education still fullof loose ends. This will matter rather less than it might, since by thetime that the tools of learning have been forged the student will be ableto tackle theology for himself, and will probably insist upon doing soand making sense of it. Still, it is as well to have this matter also handyand ready for the reason to work upon. At the grammatical age, therefore,we should become acquainted with the story of God and Man in outline--i.e.,the Old and New testaments presented as parts of a single narrative ofCreation, Rebellion, and Redemption--and also with the Creed, the Lord'sPrayer, and the Ten Commandments. At this early stage, it does not matternearly so much that these things should be fully understood as that theyshould be known and remembered.
In English, meanwhile, verse and prose can be learned by heart, andthe pupil's memory should be stored with stories of every kind--classicalmyth, European legend, and so forth. I do not think that the classicalstories and masterpieces of ancient literature should be made the vilebodies on which to practice the techniques of Grammar--that was a faultof mediaeval education which we need not perpetuate. The stories can beenjoyed and remembered in English, and related to their origin at a subsequentstage. Recitation aloud should be practiced, individually or in chorus;for we must not forget that we are laying the groundwork for Disputationand Rhetoric.
Before concluding these necessarily very sketchy suggestions, I oughtto say why I think it necessary, in these days, to go back to a disciplinewhich we had discarded. The truth is that for the last three hundred yearsor so we have been living upon our educational capital. The post-Renaissanceworld, bewildered and excited by the profusion of new "subjects"offered to it, broke away from the old discipline (which had, indeed, becomesadly dull and stereotyped in its practical application) and imagined thathenceforward it could, as it were, disport itself happily in its new andextended Quadrivium without passing through the Trivium. But the Scholastictradition, though broken and maimed, still lingered in the public schoolsand universities: Milton, however much he protested against it, was formedby it--the debate of the Fallen Angels and the disputation of Abdiel withSatan have the tool-marks of the Schools upon them, and might, incidentally,profitably figure as set passages for our Dialectical studies. Right downto the nineteenth century, our public affairs were mostly managed, andour books and journals were for the most part written, by people broughtup in homes, and trained in places, where that tradition was still alivein the memory and almost in the blood. Just so, many people today who areatheist or agnostic in religion, are governed in their conduct by a codeof Christian ethics which is so rooted that it never occurs to them toquestion it.
However, it is in the highest degree improbable that the reforms I proposewill ever be carried into effect. Neither the parents, nor the trainingcolleges, nor the examination boards, nor the boards of governors, northe ministries of education, would countenance them for a moment. For theyamount to this: that if we are to produce a society of educated people,fitted to preserve their intellectual freedom amid the complex pressuresof our modern society, we must turn back the wheel of progress some fouror five hundred years, to the point at which education began to lose sightof its true object, towards the end of the Middle Ages.
"Subjects" of some kind there must be, of course. One cannot learn the theory of grammar without learning an actual language, or learn to argue and orate without speaking about something in particular. The debating subjects of the Middle Ages were drawn largely from theology, or from the ethics and history of antiquity. Often, indeed, they became stereotyped, especially towards the end of the period, and the far-fetched and wire-drawn absurdities of Scholastic argument fretted Milton and provide food for merriment even to this day. Whether they were in themselves any more hackneyed and trivial than the usual subjects set nowadays for "essaywriting" I should not like to say: we may ourselves grow a littleweary of "A Day in My Holidays" and all the rest of it. But mostof the merriment is misplaced, because the aim and object of the debatingthesis has by now been lost sight of.
Let us amuse ourselves by imagining that such progressive retrogressionis possible. Let us make a clean sweep of all educational authorities,and furnish ourselves with a nice little school of boys and girls whomwe may experimentally equip for the intellectual conflict along lines chosenby ourselves. We will endow them with exceptionally docile parents; wewill staff our school with teachers who are themselves perfectly familiarwith the aims and methods of the Trivium; we will have our building andstaff large enough to allow our classes to be small enough for adequatehandling; and we will postulate a Board of Examiners willing and qualifiedto test the products we turn out. Thus prepared, we will attempt to sketchout a syllabus--a modern Trivium "with modifications" and wewill see where we get to.
What use is it to pile task on task and prolong the days of labor, ifat the close the chief object is left unattained? It is not the fault ofthe teachers--they work only too hard already. The combined folly of acivilization that has forgotten its own roots is forcing them to shoreup the tottering weight of an educational structure that is built uponsand. They are doing for their pupils the work which the pupils themselvesought to do. For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teachmen how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do thisis effort spent in vain.
- Anohni “I miss the times when I was really free.” Some beautiful Goodbye, dear Edwige, butch elegance, punk legend.
photo of Edwige, Antony and Tilda Swinton NYC 2012 by Chuck Fiorello the event this weekend
all the loving
all the turning
to face eachother
It's like I never
without my home
with no reflection
I cease to exist... In collaboration with Josh Ralph, Antony wrote a song called Manta Ray for the film about the plight of endangered species. Antony, Yoshito Ohno (with Kazuo puppet!) and Johanna Constantine after their concerts in São Paulo last week. from the this morning. Amazingly, more than 2 weeks since the Q and A episode on ABC in Australia and the Murdoch press is STILL printing detractions and character defamations about me.
excerpts from December 12th Here is an extended interview with Antony on , and in response to the rumors that Antony is "retiring", they are not true. Click to see a feature on Antony in , there is also a feature with photo's by Mark Seliger in German Vogue's November issue out now. This is Antony's performance of Thank You For Your Love from Friday October 15th's taping of Later with Jools Holland. Antony will perform today on at 2:30PM EST. Antony's takeover of page will be adding it's final postings tomorrow with an essay on Copenhagen by Jerry Mander, a video by Charles Atlas of NY star Page, and a feature on Kembra Pfahler for the Volptuous Horror of Karen Black.