"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Real education, from the past, especially for today

Somehow I found this 1925 book, a reject from Oklahoma City libraries, "Sonata and Other Poems" by John Erskine, especially applicable today when this state and everybody else emphasizes training for a job.
   I didn't know he was an English professor and more at Amherst College and at Columbia--responsible for the Great Books movement. Most influential was his "Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent."
   You probably knew all this. My education is still continuing.

Here's the poem: "Modern Ode to the Modern School." Enjoy

 Just after the Board had brought the schools up to date
To prepare you for your Life Work
Without teaching you one superfluous thing,
Jim Reilly presented himself to be education.
He wanted to be a bricklayer.
They taught him to be a perfect bricklayer.
And nothing more.

He knew so much about bricklaying
That the contractor made him a foreman.
But he knew nothing about being a foreman.
He spoke to the School Board about it,
And they put in a night course
On how to be a foreman
And nothing more.

He became so excellent a foreman
that the contractor made him a partner.
But he knew nothing about figuring costs
Nor about bookkeeping
Nor about real estate,
And he was too proud to go back to school.
So he hired a tutor
Who taught him these things
And nothing more.

Prospering at last
And meeting other men as prosperous,
Whenever the conversation started, he'd say to himself
"Just wait till it comes my way--
Then I'll show them!"
But they never mentioned bricklaying
Nor the art of being a foreman
Nor the whole duty of contractors,
Not even real estate.
So Jim never said anything.

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