Liberal education, the liberal arts, are the danger.
(In case you haven’t noticed, these posts originating on a late Friday night seem to get sillier.)
The wags and pundits calling for the elimination of the US Department of Education (USED) on the grounds that “education” does not exist within the US Constitution are correct. Their ability to use Control-F and search for the word “education” is unimpeachable. But that is weak logic. Lots of things are not in the Constitution – highway(s), assault weapons, food, handguns, rifles, drugs, cattle, dog(s), cat(s), abortion, hospital(s), identification, photo identification, trains, planes, and automobiles. The list goes on. I suspect there are few people who don’t have their own hobby-horse to ride about some federal law that they want, that they cherish, that is not actually mentioned in the Constitution.
But, so what?
This is what. Education is in the US Constitution. Specifically, the notion of a liberal education is in the Constitution. It is simply hidden.
As I wrote previously, the liberal arts, a liberal education, is for FREE people. It is just for people who are free, but for people who wish to be free, who strive to be free. Free from the shackles of ignorance, free from puppetry of the State. Free to make informed choices about their best interests.
Free to be free, to challenge government, to challenge the charismatic. Free to know when they are being led like lambs to the slaughter.
(yeah, this is all over the top, but some of you just won’t pay attention otherwise)
The whole notion of the liberal arts, as a substantive part of a liberal education, is that these provide a basis of discernment to separate fact from fiction, lies from truth. There has always been far too much knowledge in the world to learn it all, but a solid liberal education provides the tools to study any part of it. The skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, literacy, numeracy, and reasoning, combined with knowledge across a range of disciplines is a threat to the power of any government, any tyrant.
Why else would China and other nations attempt to restrict Internet access, Twitter, or other tools for sharing information and knowledge?
Why else is espionage so important?
Why else deny Blacks access to the same education as Whites?
Because knowledge is power. The ability to act on that knowledge is more powerful still.
Education allows people to see, to know, that separate is never equal. Education allows people to work for change. And make it happen. Change through education has accomplished more absolute good than any weapon of death and destruction. Education that, if not grounded in liberal education, informed by liberal education, informed by the liberal arts. And shared through techniques and media developed, nurtured, expanded by the liberal arts.
The liberal arts are a weapon. I, we, are armed through the principles of a liberal education, based in the liberal arts and humanities. A right to which that shall not be infringed.
You can take my liberal arts degree when you can pry it from my cold, dead hands.
(You can’t. You can have the paper any time. You can erase my records. The education still remains. I thought would explain, just in case someone has missed the point so far. I realize I may have been very overly subtle.)
Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the poet an the painter far behind his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.
–Chimes of Freedom, Bob Dylan