The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

January 23, 2012

January 23, 1918

H. L. Mencken (September 12, 1880  to  January 29, 1956) was not just an acerbic critic of the American cultural scene, attacking what he saw as opponents of progress; he was a scholar of the American language. In this essay first printed in the New York Evening Mail,  on January 23, 1918, and entitled "The Educational Process,"  Mencken attacks a new trend in teaching, which he calls, 'scientific pedagogy'.  In place of the expert, in a field he loves, leading a class, teachers have become victims of a system that rewards "the hideous cavorting of quacks." 

There are [still, in spite of the new 'scientific pedagogy] fanatics who love and venerate spelling as a tom-cat loves and venerates cat-nip. There are...school marms who would rather parse than eat...strange beings, otherwise sane and even intelligent and comely, who suffer under a split-infinitive as you or I would suffer under gastro-enteritis.. There are worshippers of the binomial theorems. But the system has them in its grip. It combats their enthusiasm diligently and mercilessly. It tries to convert them into technicians... It orders them to teach, not by the process of emotional osmosis which worked in the days gone by, but by formulae which are as baffling to the pupil as they are paralyzing to the teacher. 

Apparenly when Mencken wrote the above, he witnessed the fact, if not the name, of college of education degree requirements.

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