Memories of a one-room country school

one room schoolhouse at Cedar Falls Iowa

“A powerful, radical left-wing clerisy is bent on destroying what every past generation would have understood to be the central purpose of education – that is, allowing (in the words of Edmund Burke) individuals to ‘avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations, and of ages.'” Lady Margaret Thatcher

In his first inaugural address, James Monroe said, “Had the people of the United States been educated in different principles, had they been less intelligent, less independent, or less virtuous, can it be believed that we should have maintained the same steady and consistent career or been blessed with the same success? While then, the constituent body retains its present sound and healthful state everything will be safe. They will choose competent and faithful representatives for every department. It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty.

“Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and a usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin.”

NEWS headlines being what they are nowadays, I thought I’d bring back memories of happier times. “Happy Days” before the educrats changed the “objectives” of education (you know what I mean). I want to take you back to May 26, 1956, the day 160 rural students from Jefferson County, Wisconsin graduated from 8th grade. Our commencement ceremony began with an invocation by a clergyman (this was a public school class). Music for the day included “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Faith of Our Fathers” and the pastor closed the event with a benediction.

In between were a commencement address, “Four Things,” and awards to two of us who rated “12th grade or above” on the final exam. Eight others scored “grade 11 to 12.” Thirty-six rated “grade 10 to 11” in proficiency. Many more no doubt scored “grade 9 to 10.”

The question is, did the county have an unusual number of intelligent farm families? Or were country schools all over the state having similar results because the schools were doing something right? Something has changed. More than half of Wisconsin’s public school students are performing BELOW grade levels! 

The State Superintendent of Education and the schools of “education” are neither ashamed nor embarrassed. They are waiting for us geezers to die off and so to make mediocrity the “new normal.” Kids won’t know cursive writing, or how to diagram a sentence, but they will know 31 flavors of gender and a dozen pronouns. Many will have been taken in by the sex-change fad. Many grads will die overdoses (America lost 100,000 last year). Remote learning during the “pandemic” will make future grads even more dumbed down.

A public school grad once asked me “How do you spell ‘dummy’.” I’ve met three high school grads who didn’t know what the Fourth of July commemorates. They guessed “fireworks.” When given a clue, “England,” they all guessed “Beatles”! I asked one high school girl if she knew who James Monroe was, and she guessed “Marilyn Monroe’s husband.”

Yes, “usurpation is now an easy attainment, and many usurpers found!

P.S. “Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious . . . That which discloses the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.” –  Ambrose Bierce

PPS: “Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants. – John W. Gardner [the “cut flowers” include Critical Race Theory, but that’s another day’s story]

“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” – Robert Hutchins [at least it used to be]

Curtis Dahlgren

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About the Author

Curtis Dahlgren
Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in the frozen tundra of Michigan's U.P., and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton. In the intro to The Fenton Bible, Fenton said: ​"I was in '53 a young student in a course of education for an entirely literary career, but with a wider basis of study than is usual. . . . In commerce my life has been passed. . . . Indeed, I hold my commercial experience to have been my most important field of education, divinely prepared to fit me to be a competent translator of the Bible, for it taught me what men are and upon what motives they act, and by what influences they are controlled. Had I, on the other hand, lived the life of a Collegiate Professor, shut up in the narrow walls of a library, I consider that I should have had my knowledge of mankind so confined to glancing through a 'peep-hole' as to make me totally unfit for [my life's work]." ​In 1971-72 Curtis did some writing for the Badger Herald and he is listed as a University of Wisconsin-Madison "alumnus" (loosely speaking, along with a few other drop-outs including John Muir, Charles Lindbergh, Frank Lloyd Wright and Dick Cheney). [He writes humor, too.]