You’ve probably met people with theoflective personalities before, but maybe only once or twice in your whole life. This is because people with theoflective personalities, also known as theoflects, are some of the most rare and important people in the world today. Fewer than one in five thousand people manifest theoflective personalities, although they may be even more uncommon than that. However, my daughter is one of them. My daughter is a theoflect.
What follows is a fantasy. A very, very sane fantasy.
PARENT: Thanks for the tour of your school. I wish we had found classical education years ago. Having talked it over with my wife, I think we’re ready to sign a contract. I do have to ask, though, how much is tuition?
ADMIN: Well, it depends. If your child does not have a smart phone, tuition is $9,500 per year. If your child does have a smart phone, it’s $19,500. There are also additional tuition charges if your child has an Instagram account or a TikTok account.
PARENT: Are you serious? Why?
Between “Dream big” and “Change the world,” the preponderance of bad advice adults are apt to give children is amply covered. Despite having a positive, vaguely inspirational air about it, “Change the world” is really nothing other than an exhortation to seize power. Progressives tend to not really care what is done with power after it is seized, for newly seized power invariably creates change. Progressives cannot long agree on a destination towards which progress ought to be made, but change does a suitably convincing impersonation of progress.
While I believe there are good reasons for teachers to not use rubrics when grading student work, I also believe there are bad reasons, and I suspect that many people find the bad reasons more persuasive. What are the bad reasons? Simply put, rubrics make it much harder for teachers to inflate grades, and un-inflated grades are profoundly offensive to modern sensibilities.
"He will not have true friends who is afraid of making enemies."
In this episode, I describe the skepticism I felt toward the idea of having "personal enemies" in my 20s. I also explain why I quit that skepticism in my 30s. Elsewhere in the episode: a lengthy discussion of why the claim, "I married my best friend," rubs me the wrong way; why my wife makes me anxious; why it is good I am anxious.
References to Aristotle, Jerry Seinfeld, and Lenny Belardo.
Most great human projects will need more than one generation to come to fruition. This means that real progress necessitates that older generations be capable of persuading younger generations that their projects are worth continuing. Otherwise, younger generations will simply tear down what already exists and begin again, their children will do the same, their grandchildren will do the same, and a cathedral which requires a hundred years to build will never move beyond the twenty-five year mark, even though the laborers continue for many centuries.
It is hard to explain classical education swiftly and accurately, though I think it is enough to say one or two true things about it that will intrigue people enough to look deeper. Here are four ways of explaining the gist of classical education, none of which is longer than a hundred words. If you only have a thirty second elevator ride to describe classical education, you need not persuade anyone to do anything other than take a second look at it later with sympathy and intrigue.
Despite their omnipresence and omnipotence, I believe that schools and universities are living through the last days of grades. Within a generation, I expect report cards and transcripts, numerical grades and letter grades, dean’s lists and honor rolls will be widely despised, disparaged, and moving hastily toward a summary demise. The abolition of grades will not be an isolated movement within the realm of education alone, but part of a much larger cultural trend which is already at work in the world.
A student opens a copy of Euclid’s Elements and a dark spirit emerges from the pages of the book.
Teacher-Genie: I am the teacher-genie. I will grant you one educational wish.
Student: What? Really?
Student: I can have whatever I want?
Teacher-Genie: That’s the deal.
Student: I want an A in Geometry class.
Teacher-Genie: It is done. You have an A in Geometry class.
Student: Whoa. Awesome. This is fantastic news. Now I’m at the top of my class.
Plato, Solomon, Blessed Augustine, Boethius, Dante, Edmund Burke… My favorite intellectuals died hundreds or thousands of years before I was even born. Teachers of classic literature do not often grieve the deaths of their heroes. The centuries have already grieved them for us. A man becomes aware of Plato with a little sadness built into his admiration. For stodgy traditionalists, backward-looking conservatives, and lovers of old books, a dry-eyed sadness eternally permeates our hearts. To put it simply, our heroes do not die, at least not on our watch.