“Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this.”
When we arrived in London in the early 1960’s, I was put into the local primary school, aged 5. I rather think my brother and sisters were initially so sent, but, strange to say, I cannot recall.
It was a modern single storey building and seemed vast. The class sizes were large, approaching 30 when I left, aged 10. Mixed, of course. And there were a couple of temporary classrooms on bricks. There were more than a few male teachers.
I quite enjoyed it, apart from the atrocious lunches and the vicious dinner ladies. I couldn’t even look at mashed potato for 25 years afterwards without an involuntary gag in my throat; for the disgusting remembered smell of lumpy mash that would be triggered simply be seeing it.
It was, I was later told, at the forefront of modern teaching methods. When my mother discovered that I could barely read, aged 7, she went to see the Headmaster. A man with a big fat belly and oily hair who wore his black rimmed spectacles at a downward angle to his grisly face, rather as the SS officers wore their caps to emphasise their authority uber alles.
When my mother explained her dissatisfaction with the state of my reading ability, he told her; “we find that when a child wants to read, they take a book down from the shelf and open it and start reading”
Perhaps fortunately, history does not relate the exact words my mother used, but since she was a tough no-nonsense Presbyterian, the reply certainly would have been immediate, choice and firmly to the point. She later told me that she informed him that this was utter nonsense and that my older brother and elder sister could read when they were 7. None of that child centred drivel in Scottish schools, back in the day. The Dominie ruled with an iron tawse.
I suspect he found satisfaction in beating me, aged 9, with a cane, for some trivial swearing offence. Nowadays, one would like to think the police would take an interest in this kind of activity by a middle-aged man to a young boy.
But I digress slightly.
The point of this article is that before university, I read a fair number of novels, history books, plays and a bit of poetry through choice, albeit I have never been bookish.
So I learned many things about other cultures, mainly, by necessity, of the anglosphere and certainly eurocentric- if that can also include the great Russian authors. I learned to think and discriminate, greatly aided by some very good secondary school teachers.
Yet many young people today do not seem to read books, or think, at all. So their learning is restricted to what they are compelled to learn almost by rote and regurgitate for the National Curriculum, so as to pass the highly regimented exams. And to what they see and hear in social media, and the increasingly trashy ephemera that has been the UK MSM for the past 40 or so years.
To me, this goes some way to explain why some of the younger generation appear have little appetite or ability to think for themselves. So they cling to mother’s apron, or to any safe and comforting notion plucked from the internet that does not cause them upset, fear or alarm.
Which is why they uncritically lap up the dreary conventional white-washed equalitarian and diversity modern cant, as doled out by their leftard teachers and the MSM. And why they appear to be the most establishment conformist generation I can think of. Except possibly for the generation of boys and men who willingly went to the slaughter for their country in the Great War, although there were perhaps rather different reasons at play there.
My final point is that, not having done much of the learning, some then go on appear to be averse to venturing out to explore, engage and challenge the world proper. There is simply no respect for, or understanding of, the experience that has been handed down the generations from father to son, mother to daugther. These critical experiences are not considered to be of any worth or moment; simply dismissed out of hand as bigotry or blind prejudice or rank stupidity.
As we know, life can be a veritable battlefield- sometimes one battle after another; where happenings can be at once demanding and very upsetting indeed. Or, as my father had it more pithily, “one bloody thing after another”.
This may especially be when expectation and sense of entitlement in youth confronts the reality of having to earn a living, feed, house and clothe oneself and raise the next generation.
Perhaps Ecclesiastes is right, and no questions should be asked?
Or maybe it would be an ecumenical matter?
King David, or Father Jack. Take your pick.
© Karen “Woke” Cocklecarott 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file