THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE


 "By the rivers of Babylon
  There we sat down, yea, we wept
  When we remembered Zion


        My personal experience with the American education system, which does not at all seem to be particularly unique, is one of instructional downward progression.  That is, my elementary school teachers tended to be better at actually helping me learn than those in junior high and likewise, those who attempted to instruct me at the middle-school level were more successful than the educators I drew for high school.  And after sampling a few colleges, I found the majority of the teachers and professors at this level to be rather puffed up in their own arrogance of erudition, their ability to pass on learning to others being minimal at best.  It is one thing to possess a certain grasp of a particular area of knowledge and it is quite another to be able to teach others how to retain and learn from factual information and to comprehend great ideas.  And more importantly, how to guide and inspire others to search for the truth by weighing facts against commonly held traditions and assumptions and applying rational concepts through to a hopefully, carefully thought out logical conclusion.

        To be fair, a major problem I encountered at the high school level was no fault in particular of the instructors, as what they were compelled by the demagogues of state education board chicanery to try and force me to learn was and remains, largely uninteresting and irrelevant to survival and positive progression in the real world of human action, interaction and reaction; in other words, is totally useless in the real world.  Thus I ended up avoiding as many high school classes as possible and instead, spent much of that time hiding in the school library, reading the works of Plato, Aristotle, Schweitzer and others, which perhaps not all that surprisingly, I found much more interesting and worthwhile.  It was difficult for my instructors to convince me that Bells by Poe and Jane Eyre by Bronte are somehow more profound examples of art than Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, The Good News According To John in the New Testament, the "Reverence for Life" philosophy of Albert Schweitzer, Sounds Of Silence by Paul Simon and Desolation Row by Bob Dylan.  Quite frankly, the contest was over before it ever began.

        "World History", above all other subjects, was immensely loathed and utterly distained by most of my peers, as well as by myself.  Even in high school, I had certain aspirations toward one day becoming a songwriter and author. Yet, not once was it pointed out to me that the more grasp of history and the general sciences one has, the better writer or songwriter they are likely to become. Likewise, as they were forbidden by foolish and entirely unconstitutional rules to do so, none of my high school instructors bothered to expose the obvious fact that virtually all of America's great novelists, as well as playwrights, poets and songwriters had or have, an extensive background in Biblical literature.  I have a vague memory of one of my English teachers desperately trying to explain what Shakespeare must have meant by the quality of mercy not being strained, while at the same time going to great lengths to avoid mentioning that this may have been in reference to some long ignored and forgotten Biblical concept.  With similar frustration, another teacher tried in vain to have us gain some appreciation for the symbolism of The Grapes of Wrath without bothering to inform us that if we used the Bible for a reference, Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Twain and most other historical authors of note, just might possibly make a whole lot more rational sense.

        How ludicrous, ridiculous and absurd is the system now in place in modern-day America posing as education, a system that ignores the religious and moral heritage of major world civilizations!  And how equally bizarre are our expectations of realizing future Jonas Salks, Frederick Douglasses, Eleanor Roosevelts and Coretta Scott Kings, yet insisting on but shoving useless facts down our children's throats, without providing a relative cross-section of moral, religious and cultural heritage for them to compare against their own budding consciences!  And why, after ten thousand years of the lessons of history and our greatest humanitarian leaders agreeing to its necessity, do we not require the study of "Human And Civil Rights" as a primary subject unto itself?  How can we possibly expect America's graduates to have an even minute grasp of our historical and cultural heritage without required knowledge of Biblical literature and the world's major religions?  How undoubtedly long and hard the ancient Greek scholars would laugh at our feeble-minded and hollow claims of education learning!

        Unlike our modern shallowness of an excuse for education, the ancient Greeks did not divide the study of knowledge and pursuit of truth into seperated disciplines such as History, Physical Science, Literature, Civics, etc., neither did they forbid examination of evidence for a Grand Designer within their science instruction, as is the case with most modern colleges and universities in our supposedly free and democratic society.  In most modern university 'science' courses, if a student dares to mention any such notion, they are quickly told that such a question is for "Comparative Religion" studies and not to be addressed in a science classroom.  Thus, the idea of God is conveniently shoved into a corner where the overwhelming evidence for a Creator does not have to be dealt with or explored as an alternative to the juvenile Neanderthal religion of Natural Selectionism (see The Myth of Modern Science and Of God and Monkey Business for more details).

        To Aristotle and the Greek scholars before him, who are often lauded by these same colleges and universities as pinnacle examples of exemplary students of the sciences, knowledge was viewed as an interlaced and interacting whole.  The fundamental idea and goal of education within this collective concept of knowledge is based on a search for the truth, where the logical beginning of all reason is the primary question, "Is there a God?"  (Note that this cornerstone of true education is in the form of a question, not a statement either pro or con, nor is it relegated to a segregated category called "religion".)  Somehow our modern gods of convoluted mis-instruction and non-evidentiary fairy tales of "self-organizing" evolution have concluded that examining evidence of invisible radio waves and black holes is part of science while examining the much more overwhelming evidence for an unseen Creator is somehow, not a rational and necessary exercise of true science.

        The famous axiom, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free", ¹   is often found carved as a motto on various American campus building walls.  Yet the American Civil Liberties Union, in the guise of 'protecting' freedom of speech and religion, that is, in some convoluted pretense of guarding First Amendment rights, has not only determined that American students should never know who said this, but also, has insured that they will never know anything even remotely resembling the truth whatsoever. *   It is no small wonder that students are dropping out of high school in record numbers and thus, avoiding the utter nauseating boredom and juvenile grade-school contradictions of further 'advanced' study.

        Perhaps what is needed in the case of modern education is a complete review of the overall purpose for learning and a complete overhaul of the fundamental approach.  Since a comprehensive knowledge of the history of our civilization provides us perspective to hopefully with wisdom, apply facts correctly toward achieving positive results, perhaps "History" should be presented as the trunk of the tree of knowledge, while other disciplines such as "Science", "English" and "Art" could be described as branches of this tree and logically continuing, the various divisions of science, such as "Biology", "Astronomy" and "Physics" could then be presented as smaller branches or leaves growing from the branch of Science, which in rational turn, is attached to the trunk of the ongoing record of human activity.

        With such an approach as this, rather than being discouraged from cohesive examination, students would be encouraged to compare ethical and moral concepts as to how they inter-relate throughout our civilization's development and our current reality and how they intertwine with subjects such as "Architecture", "Literature" and "Psychology".  And thus in the tradition of Albert Schweitzer and the late Jacques Cousteau, wise conclusions and valuable applied knowledge toward helping our species and preserving the fragile planet we inhabit, would be encouraged and achieved by presenting the search for truth as the collected whole of our historically interlaced scientific, other educational and technological disciplines.

        What is not needed in our American classrooms is a reversion back to the old Puritan notion of forcing Biblical and Christian religious dogma on our children at the expense of other religions, cultures and ideas.  What is most definitely not needed is a continuing mundane curriculum of unrelated facts without knowledge of the underlying cultural and moral influences and reasons for their existence.  What is entirely unnecessary is a superficial mythology posing as science, claiming verification by evidence for its basis, yet being fundamentally flawed in its underlying non-provable assumption of Designer-less ignorance with no basis of evidence in the physical reality.  And what is truly undesirable (if anything could in fact, be less desirable) is the elimination of half of human history in the guise of religious freedom and the removal of all knowledge as to how the realities of historical personages and literary heritage interlace and entwine with Biblical and other cultural traditions.

 ...By the rivers of Babylon
    There we sat down, yea, we wept
    When we remembered Zion" ²


I Am Your Child Foundation
      Inner-City Games Foundation


DEDICATED TO:  
Jeshua of Nazareth, history's most advanced advocate of free public education for all people, including those who do not score well on certain prejudicial tests, to Chief Sikwayi (Sequoyah), Cherokee Indian educator of great vision and to the elementary school teachers of America; in all fairness of merit and value, the current pay-scale for educators should be applied in reverse, with elementary instructors earning the most sliding on down to college professors, some of whom seem to have no concept whatsoever of what it means to actually teach, earning the least.  Also dedicated to Rob Reiner, for his efforts aiding learning among very young children and a great many other causes and Arnold Schwarzenegger & Maria Shriver for their many efforts in seeking to help poor children become better educated and more productive citizens, including programs to keep children of working parents busy and involved during late afternoon after-school hours, off the streets and out of trouble.  It has been rumored that Mr. Reiner and Mr. Schwarzenegger may end up running against each other for the California governorship.  It would be good news for We The People of America if both of these fine individuals and Maria Shriver were to be elected to a prominent state or national office; we need far less representatives of partisan sound-bite party politics and more ethical leaders of sound heart.


Credits:

1. John 8:32 (partial).

2. Psalms 137:1.  Also, Recorded by The Melodians as "Rivers Of Babylon"; adapted from Psalm 137 by B. Howe and F. McHaughton from an original concept by Don Julian on the album sleeve of The Harder They Come (1972).  Other similar adaptations by various artists.


*FootNote:  What is practiced in modern American education today is not freedom of religion or separation of church and state but rather, freedom from knowledge of religion(s), from knowledge of Biblical and other cultural literature (which is not at all the same as religion) and any notion of ethical and moral reasoning.  Not only does the The Constitution Of The United States not address such an issue, it clearly states that the elimination of religious knowledge and discussion by our publicly funded education system is most definitely, unconstitutional. The Constitution guarantees us the right of open religious, moral, Biblical, scientific, conservative 'rightism', radical 'leftism' and any other type discussion and in particular, on the publicly funded property of our schools and public universities.  The American Civil Liberties Union, which is often correct in the ongoing attempt to protect the rights of the minority against the prejudice of the majority, on this particular issue is as far away from the logic of both educational necessity and constitutional correctness as the East is from the West.



           


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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.

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