In response to Message #188 (“You Want to Be a Success? Dont Underestimate the Importance of Education”), ES wrote, “Your ETR is EXACTLY what I’ve been saying for years. Unfortunately, I was one of the people who helped create this unfortunate mess — I was a teacher in the early 60s and passionately believed all that crap. I worked hard at making education easier for those who were not well prepared for it. Boy, were we wrong. My kids, aged 33 and 34, are very bright, but can’t spell or write for shit. They speak very well and think very well but cannot present themselves well via the written medium. It is truly embarrassing for them and for me.”
This provoked two thoughts:
1. How could ES and the other young teachers of his generation have gotten their way with education? Why didn’t the older teachers, who had the power, resist them? Well, of course, they did. But it was a futile effort, because our society had already changed in the most fundamental way. America had turned into a country where older people were becoming less and less important. Whether it was because of the economic effect of the Baby Boom population swell or the continuing development of a country founded by young people (the great majority of those who signed the Declaration of Independence were less than 40), something important in our culture was gone.
I think it was the idea that older people are wiser people. And wiser people should be listened to. All of the worlds great cultures — the civilized societies — have respected age. Think of Athens during the age of Pericles. Think of Egypt and Babylon. Think of the Mayan and Aztec cultures. Imperial Rome. England. Even China before the revolution. Youthful energy is the coal that burns in society’s engine. But without the judgment of experience, the train is headed nowhere.
2. There is a connection between the way we have spoiled (and are spoiling) our children by making things easier and the way we have spoiled (and are spoiling) them by praising them instead of their behavior. (I spoke about this subject last week in Message #269.) If you spoil someone both ways — by making things easier for him and by praising him instead of his behavior — you end up with a person who has two handicaps: He thinks too much of himself . . . and he expects everything for himself but cant produce anything of substantial value.[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]