August 27, 2003

The Pierian Spring

"First day of school! "

"First day of slavery! Of oppression! It's unconstitutional! Thirteenth Amendment!"

"Nonsense. It's the first day of your new chance to drink deep of the Pierian Spring."

"It's involuntary servitude!"

"It's your chance to invest in your own human capital to raise your future earnings and give you more and better life-chance options."

"But what if I don't want to?"

"But you do want to. Or, rather, your true will--what you would will if you were fully informed and fully mature in your judgment--is to eagerly go to school. I would be oppressing you if I did not make you go to school."

"Hmmph. Who decides what my true will is?"

"I do. I'm the leading cadre in this family, after all."

A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring.

Alexander Pope

Posted by DeLong at August 27, 2003 07:59 AM | TrackBack


During the same discussion at our house many years ago, my father described his family management style as being a "occasionally benevolent dictatorship".

Seems appropriate. My own kids started school today. Over their objections, with a very similar discussion.

Posted by: Chuck Nolan on August 27, 2003 08:12 AM

"It's your chance to invest in your own human capital to raise your future earnings and give you more and better life-chance options."

Besides, when your dad has retired on his very inadequate pension, you will then have the opportunity to keep him in the style to which he'd like to become accustomed.

And talking of "drinking deep of the Pierian Spring", great article in today's FT, Brad. I particularly like your almost singular ability to argue your case by reference to a quite extraordinary range of historical examples. Almost singular? It puts me very much in mind of Churchill's writings.

Posted by: Pooh on August 27, 2003 08:26 AM

little learning is a dang'rous thing... Luskin?

Posted by: mrkmyr on August 27, 2003 08:40 AM

Happy Mother's Day. Anyone who thinks that Mother's Day falls on a Sunday in the spring instead of a Monday in the fall has not been paying attention.

Posted by: dwight meredith on August 27, 2003 09:26 AM

for all you folks who haven't read it, the Pope from which the couplet is drawn is

the next couplet after 'Pierian' is nice. the piece is the source for 'fools rush in where angels fear to tread.' on top of that, there's some fine advice for blog comment writers:

"Launch not beyond your Depth, but be discreet,
And mark that Point where Sense and Dulness meet."



Posted by: wcw on August 27, 2003 09:52 AM

As far as Luskin is concerned, any learning is a dangerous thing.

This from the Industry Standard in August 2001, on the winding up of Luskin's mutual fund company, MetaMarkets:

"The OpenFund, launched in August 1999, is down 26 percent this year after losing 42 percent in 2000, according to fund tracker Morningstar. The IPO & New Era fund, started in 2000, is off 57 percent this year, according to the company's Web site."

And if you're in the mood for vomiting, follow this link to find out what Luskin had to say about his fund's total incompetence in managing other people's money:

Posted by: Pooh on August 27, 2003 10:30 AM

"Hmmph. Who decides what my true will is?"

"I do. I'm the leading cadre in this family, after all."

Hilarious! The kid is obviously suffering from false consciousness!

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on August 27, 2003 12:19 PM

Please, Brad, get your young 'uns reading Pope as quickly as they're able. (I don't imagine they'll 'lisp in numbers' in the Popean sense, but nature and nurture may mean that they lisp in *other* numbers.)

Too often misquoted, though, is 'A little learning' as 'A little knowledge' (grr). And as wcw suggests, it needs the second couplet to be appreciated in all its glory. But my favourite passage, with respect to blogs, has to be:

Some have at first for Wits, then Poets past,
Turn'd Criticks next, and prov'd plain Fools at last;
Some neither can for Wits nor Criticks pass,
As heavy Mules are neither Horse or Ass.

Posted by: nick sweeney on August 27, 2003 03:34 PM

When I first heard of the reasoning the American educationist Horace Mann (not the earlier one who was Walpole's correspondent), I was horrified. I still am.

The objection I have isn't to the idea of education, it's to the idea that it's OK to have social engineering and creation of a consciousness - the assumption that the state is allowed to set those objectives and validate its actions against them retrospectively. You can't determine whether the objectives are a false consciousness or not; the only valid objectives have to come from outside the system that creates them.

Mann was a monster. Why, I have even heard that imposing his scheme used the very system of dragonnades and billeting that the US Declaration of Independence objected to as wicked.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on August 27, 2003 06:31 PM

"I never let schooling interfere with my education."

-Mark Twain

Posted by: nameless on August 27, 2003 06:59 PM

Perhaps you should consider this school...

A bit across the bay perhaps, but if its good enough for Milton's grand kids maybe its good enough for yours.

Posted by: Rob Sperry on August 27, 2003 11:24 PM

Or, homeschooling, or rather unschooling, as your household seems so well made for it.

Posted by: Francisco on August 28, 2003 07:19 AM
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