For more than two centuries, freedom has been the catchword of Western Civilization. What began as an abstraction from the pens of Locke, Sidney, Montesquieu, Beccaria, and others has become, in the more than 230 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed and published to the world, an all-embracing pretext for political activity. Where rulers once justified their activities on the basis of discredited doctrines like the divine right of kings and the absolute and indivisible sovereignty said to inhere in the person of a monarch, governments of nearly every stripe today proclaim the sanctity of freedom.
A well-used copy of Consumer Reports dated March 2009 caught my eye in the doctor’s reception area. The cover story: “Great old appliances.” Owners stood beside their still-operational refrigerators (1926), toasters (1936), mixers (1938), waffle irons (1939), dryers (1954), vacuum cleaners (1955), sewing machines (1957), blenders (1959) and dishwashers (1960). Even 40-somethings refused to ditch their “finds,” relegating more modern versions, bestowed by children or grandchildren, to the basement, unopened.
After decades of hand-wringing over nonexistent or, at best, mediocre gains in student academic achievement, the most noticeable thing to come out of all the "studies" aimed at improving schools is that there is a lack of any understanding of what a "real" education looks like.