To quote Hillary Clinton tomorrow, "I have no independent recollection of that."
I frankly don't remember much of either -- the how or the what. I do remember being taught what to remember, but that's not really teaching, is it? Rather, I was simply told what to memorize.
As my son winds his way through the digestive tract of lower education, I am subject to flashbacks of the material, which is still, after all these years, occupying space in my head: Father Junipero Serra. Vasco da Gama. Magellan.
Did we learn nothing from James Cook, the first but not last white European male eaten by damn Hawaiian savages?
And of course the dates: 476. 1215. 1492. 1517. etc.
Now, there is something to be said for all members of a culture being on the same page and using the same calendar. Historian Wilfred McClay put it well in a recent Hillsdale Imprimus. Why learn history at all on the public's dime?
Because its "chief purpose" should be "a rite of civic membership, an act of inculcation and formation, a way in which the young are introduced to the fullness of their political and cultural inheritance as Americans, enabling them to become literate and conversant in its many features.... It is not merely a body of knowledge. It also ushers the individual person into membership in a common world, and situates them in space and time."
So. How's that workin' out?
Like this: "Instead, it [history] is likely to be seen as a relativistic funhouse, in which all narratives are arbitrary and all interpretations are equally valid." Either that, or a litany of white male oppression, of "endless rounds of interrogation and suspicion, aiming precisely at the destabilization of public meanings..."
But you know what? Despite my personal animus toward some of them -- I'm thinking of one in particular -- I've never eaten a single Hawaiian.
You will have noticed that the left can never be intellectually consistent, and that they always engage in the bait-and-switch. In this case, they simultaneously insist that all narratives are relative and that theirs is the One Truth. In practical terms they exchange truth for power, and they both define and enforce the former via the latter. Therefore, you will bow to the left wing narrative or suffer the consequences.
In truth, we need both to know how and what to think -- just as we need a musical instrument and something to play on it.
The left is half-right when they say that everything is relative. In fact, everything is relative: to the absolute! Therefore, all narratives must be examined in light of the One Narrative, otherwise all narratives are arbitrary, not relative.
I was just reading in this non-raccoomended book by Schuon that "Every world -- or every circle of reality -- is real within itself." That is, we all inhabit a world whose "reality is relative and fragmented, not absolute and pure":
"With regard to a circle of reality, it can be said that pure Reality is its prototype..." Thus, "the circles of fragmented reality are completely and in every respect symbols of higher and highest Reality..." Considered visually, it is as if there is the one Absolute Circle that contains us all, filled with little fractal-circles of the whole.
Now, "Every world, every circle of reality, is definable as knowledge and known," the two co-arising and being inseparable. Therefore, "'world' means knowledge and known.... As soon as one speaks of knowledge, the corresponding known must also be inevitably spoken of," such that "this mutual dependence of 'knowledge-known' is the dual aspect of the world," repeating itself ad infinitum, at every level.
Now we're getting somewhere, because the left's narrative isn't just a story, but a whole self-enclosed world. This is indeed a fundamental difference between left and right: since the former is godless, it necessarily exists in a closed cosmos in which it is violently excised from the Master Narrative, about which more tomorrow since we are out of time.
But at least we have finished with Esolen, so I can move on to the next book in my backlog. We'll end with this thoughtlet:
"A truly free people needn't care overmuch about who is sitting on the throne or who has been elected..." (Esolen). But in my lifetime, Americans have become increasingly obsessed with politics. What does this tell us? As a measure of the erosion of our freedom, we often hear that the president "runs the country" instead of just executing federal laws passed by the congress. Thus we are forced to care, since the state never stops exceeding its limited and enumerated powers.
Wouldn't it be great to not have to give a fuck about the federal government so long as it kept out the rabble and killed our nihilistic foreign enemies before they kill us?