Sunday, August 01, 2021


It was almost a week ago that I published my CRT post, so few of you will be going back to check on the comments.  Resident geographer JMSmith (that always catches me up short because I have a cousin who is JM Smith) has a new comment worth going back and reading. It includes the radical statement "The connection to your post is that public education is not possible in a truly multicultural society." He makes a brief case, with examples, for the premise. And that isn't even his only point.

Update:  And it's still going.  Great stuff.


Christopher B said...


JMSmith said...

I'm glad my comment stimulated some thought. I've been brooding on it since and just posted a related essay at the Orthosphere. I begin with a quote from The Idea of a Christian Society (1939) by T.S. Eliot. “A positive culture must have a positive set of values, and the dissentients must remain marginal, tending to make only marginal contributions.” This is, of course, directly opposite to the orthodoxy of our own time, and congruent with my claim that public education is impossible in a multicultural society.

What Eliot calls "dissentients" are persons who think and feel differently, what we would call "minorities." What Eliot calls a "positive culture" is a confident culture that has faith in itself, and that is therefore in the business of conserving and celebrating itself. A positive culture might try to convert dissentients to its way of thinking and feeling, but will otherwise marginalize and exclude them. As I explain in my essay, marginalization and exclusion are perfectly comparable with toleration.

With respect to the public education question, though, it seems there are only three options: (a) dissentients are aggressively assimilated to the sense or sentience of the dominant positive culture; (b) education is value-neutral and merely technical, in which case the positive culture loses its principle conduit of intergenerational transmission; (c) dissentient thought and feeling is not excluded and marginalized, and public education thereafter invites young people to choose between the values of the dominant culture and dissentient cultures.