- The school did not like that in the Yearbook we captioned the class brown-noser's picture: "If a man has no character he must have a method" [They replaced this with: "I will fight the good fight"]. But "notes by rote" still got thru, perhaps because they thought it was a compliment? We had captioned a picture of the football team charging forward on their playing field (above): "We are the hollow men." The faculty inquisitorial tribunal had not given the Editor-in-Chief and myself any time to prepare for our interrogation.Were they hoping to catch us telling different stories so they could nail us for lying? I had no problem with this, because I was only telling the truth → about them. (Maybe they would have burned my fragile body at the stake for steak [élève bourguignon? ~ They held this Inquisitorial Proceeding at lunch time], had I not promised to be good PR by being going to Yale?)
Faculty advisor, Mr. Thomas Longstreth (M.A., U. Penn., left), had told the Yearbook staff he was too busy to review Yearbook pages and I had told him something -- I have by now forgotten my specific words but I remembered them clearly then -- that we would do what we would do. He had been put on notice and failed to take appropriate measures, so he got what he asked for. I was confident that I was right and the faculty were wrong and, under interrogation, I stood my ground. They backed off and only punished me by barring me from attending graduation ("Commencement") ceremony. [Aside: I also did not attend "my" Yale graduation: In my "cap and gown", I collected over $130 USD for Quaker Vietnam war relief at the gate to the "Old Campus" nearest to the Yale Post Office.]
- I was not taught about The Holocaust at StP. When I did study The Holocaust, I immediately recognized where I had seen the showers before: in the boarding students' dormitory (just sans the gas). Because I never engaged in public nudity, I do not know what the showers were like in the "boys' locker room".
- Two things I was not taught by St. Paul's School: (1) That the experiential dimension of value existed nor, a fortiori, that there could be things or persons of value. By "of value", I mean that I could have felt about them that they deserved to exist and they would have enriched my experience of and especially joy in living. (2) The experiential dimension of nuance and context, that not all things in the world have to be one dimensional: (a) approved by adults who wielded power over me, or (b) not approved by them.
- In 11th grade, classmate Allen Moulton made me aware of two books which influenced me: (1) Albert Camus' "The Myth of Sisyphus". My engagement with this book illustrates how my spirit was impoverished: I assiduously tried to reduce to a one page deductive outline Camus' argument why not to kill oneself, instead of elucidating nuance(s) of the problematic of being mortal. This crippling of my soul has vitiated / corroded my whole life, both emotionally and intellectually. And: (2) Robert Anderson's "Tea and sympathy", which is the story of an intelligent, sensitive boy in a school like StP who gets some badly needed sexual love, samizdat, of course, from a teacher's wife. I did not.
- The net: I graduated from StP so dimensionally / categorially deprived that I was not able to take advantage of opportunities Yale might have facilitated for me in life (item: The notion never even entered my head of trying to get into Scroll and Key. I was just afraid of getting bad grades and I had no sense of self-worth). I have had to waste most of the best days of my life as a low level computer programmer human resource, when, if nurtured by an loving mother ("alma mater"), might I have become a Strobe Talbott or Fareed Zakaria?
My four years at Yale I was trying to catch up to where my preparatory schooling should have had me prepared when I matriculated. (In my off hours, perhaps guided by some fortunate genetic endowment which my childrearing and schooling did not completely succeed in taking away from me, I have endeavored for over 50 years now to build a life despite having been psychologically crippled. I have been partly successful and it has not been nearly as joyous as a person deserves in living.) I am not only disappointed, I am meta-disappointed for even having missed out on awareness of how disappointed I was and how much I had missed out on at StP. To repeat my above quote from Arnold Hauser:
What men are willing to put up with depends on what they are able to look forward to.
- I needed to not be graded so that I could immerse myself in studying and reflective thinking, instead of being distracted by having to preoccupy myself with, by wasting my time and energy on, and being dis-couraged by, trying to not get a bad grade. The notion of school as a place to liberally learn in freedom is at least as old in America as Thomas Jefferson (d. 1826).
What cheer rallies lead to. What message does this picture convey about the unique and irreplaceable individuality of and respect for each singular person? / Marshall McLuhan said: The medium is the message. Every game has a winner and a loser or it's a draw. The specific instances that fill these roles change for each game. What endures is the social structure of students believing and participating in competitive athletic teams, coaches coaching, fans spending time spectating and cheering games (at the expense of, for example: investing that time and energy studying the Bible
. They go on from boys head-butting on the football field to become young men dying the battlefield. Additionally:
Collateral damage one person generates to win is to make another person, a fellow mortal, be a loser.
"Nobody in the 20th century can really believe in God." (Ron Mraz)
- At StP, I always avoided anything to do with athletics, which I found repugnant and threatening, especially the "locker room" where I suspect the showers would have reminded me is Auschwitz had I known about that place then. However: "mens sana in corpore sano". I wish I had approached the Director of Athletics and said to him:
I will never know what would have happened.
"Mr. Tullai (above right), you know I am not 'into' body-contact athletics and public nudity. But I want to have a healthy body. Will you develop an exercise regimen for me, with me?"
Mr. Ron Mraz. Chemistry teacher, atheist, homosexual. "Nobody in the 20th century can really believe in God."
- A perhaps: I believe Chemistry teacher Mr. Ron Mraz played during the summers in a small architecture firm where I think maybe his boyfriend (Mr. Mraz was homosexual) worked. That architecture firm was located on the North side of Chase Street, just West of Charles Street (RTKL?). Could I have asked Mr. Mraz if I could do something there during the summers or if he had some other idea how I might have in a culturally enriching way used my summer vacations? (But how could I have asked, since I did not know what culture was?) Mr. Mraz must have come from at least semi-cultured money. He had a Jaguar XK-140 (150? not 120) automobile which during one summer he asked a student in my class to start up every few days while he was away. The student was probably mentally retarded; he destroyed the car's manual transmission because he was incompetent. I think at that point Mr. Mraz got an MG-B. After I graduated from StP, I once visited Mr. Mraz's apartment which was one half of the penthouse of The Emersonian, 2502 Eutaw Place. It was magnificent, like something out of Alain Resnais's film "Last Year at Marienbad". His baby(?) grand piano was behind one of the columns in the entrance hall -- that's how classy a place it was. Not my life. Mr. Mraz's boyfriend had an apartment on the top floor of The Esplanade, across the street from the Emersonian, and the two used to spy on each other, I believe. In 7th thru 10th grades I was quartered in my parents' suburban split-level house (515 Wyngate Road) in Wakefield, off Dulaney Valley Road, abutting the Pine Ridge Golf Course. I never was happy being a split level, even though I was stuck living in one. As for Mr. Mraz, I seem to have heard he had been caught stealing antiques from the Brooklandwood mansion (he later did have an antiques shop in Alexandria, Virginia).
- A book? I was so turned off by "this place" (and, or course, my parental home, too) that even the very few times some little thing that might have been constructive for me came along I wanted no part of it because I wanted no part of it, i.e.: the school (and also of the whole
social world Scheißestückwelt (aka: stalag) of which it was a part): "uberhaupt". They burdened us students with having to read 2 books each summer recess which as far as I was concerned they should not impinged on at all, I never read the books; I faked a book report on one of them and they apparently accepted what I had given them. (Mr./Dr.? Beernink was apparently pissed that I had evaded the burden of reading a book in Spanish over one summer. Most of the students presumably read a many-word-long novel which had a lot of vocabulary words in it to have to look up in the dictionary. I found a very short (144 pages?) history book about the American Civil War on his reading list and I took it: short and few vocabulary words to torture me with. If he had wanted what he wanted he should not have given me a way to "make out". It was him against me, in the Battle of the Summer Reading Assignments.) There was one book on the generic summer reading list that might have been constructive for me had I read it: Erich Maria Remarque's "All quiet on the western front". I might have identified with it in the life situation I was stuck in. Maybe I would have got some ideas how to cope with the people I was stuck having to put up with. Maybe it would have given me a purpose in living: to study the disgusting waste of life and material matter in the less-than-world the adolts I had to put up with had made of this place between the oblivion of before being born and the oblivion (presumably) of after dying? The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away (Job 1:21), but from those who have little (me) what little they have shall be taken away (by their society).
Monday morning quarterbacking
What would have happened had I called my StP teaches to account and told them they were wasting both my and their own precious time with Charles paid-on-the-installment-plan Dickens and a latin text book with the anachronistic word "Coca-colam" (first declension feminine noun, accusative case), etc., and could they work with me so that I could accomplish something of value to myself and for them, too?
Maybe they were even better teachers than Aristotle, just they were not marketing what they were peddling in such a way as to convince me to want to buy it? Would I have been dumped like a sack of potatoes (or Adam being cast out of the Garden of Eden) in the middle of Falls Road to be run over by a motor vehicle and put out of everybody's misery had I asked for education that would have been constructive for me? which is the fantasy I often have [albeit different streets] because I was chronically threatened with punishment of unknown implications by the StP faculty, e.g.: a "bad grade" on some assignment they cooked up and stuck me with that meant nothing and sometimes even made no sense to me?
The day I awakened in April 2021 to get my second Covid shot, I had an un-dead-lined idea for a poster of Sir Winston Churchill urging everybody to win the war against Covid-19, with his famous "V for victory" sign: "V" as in "Vaccines will win the war against Covid-19". Nobody in my life cared about me having this (or ever any other) idea [because nobody ever cared about me, not just about their disowned self-doubts which they projected onto me!]. I took a very small, trepidant [due to my continuing lack of self-esteem] risk and ran off 5 copies on a computer printer, and → I took them with me to the vaccination center and handed them out to 5 of the personnel working there. Because I did that, I felt and still feel less like nothing: repeat: nothing, be it a wage-slave or a pupil (not the kind in eyeballs), than I would otherwise have felt just leaving the building like a small mammal exiting the vet after getting its rabies booster.
I should get a Varsity advertising and patriotism letter and the school a trophy, for my little graphic design idea, and if no available space, StP should move out one of the graven image lacrosse idols in the glass case in the entrance to the Brooklandwood stable for it, if said idols have not all long since been trashed by now after the epiphany of 2001. IHS
No wind blows in favor of that ship which has no port of destination.
The above quote is an old (1978) IBM motivational slogan. Part of my problem with StP was that the school did not offer me any goals. I did not buy "school spirit" and I was never adept at doing things just because somebody with power over me told me to do them (such as my parents or masters). I would have met the school half-way: Had StP proposed to me clear goals, the pursuit of which I felt would be appealing for my living, I would have pursued them for our mutual benefit. But it was not good enough for things to be meaningful only to them (if they were meaningful to them and not just unthinking repetitions of past socially conditioned behaviors), They needed to sell me on it too.
What was in it for me to read some Dickens book? What wisdom for the ages was in that what looked to me to be a mound of logorrhea, instead of, say, the sayings of Heraclitus or -- if the school was "into" competitiveness -- Sun-Tzu? What was in it for me to learn the Ascii character string: "A-s-h-u-r-b-a-n-i-p-a-l"? What was in it for me to be humiliated by a vocational arts project in ancient history class where I did not have a wood shop available nor would I be taught how to make things out of wood to successfully complete the task?
Why were these things supposed to be interesting to me, and how was learning them going to enrich my life? "Do it Or else! we will give you a bad grade and wreck your life, kid!" was not a reason; it was a threat. Didn't I have a reasonable expectation of mutual respect and rationally negotiated peaceful coexistence with those who earned their paychecks by forming my future life as a citizen and maybe even a leader of others in a democratic country (StP was an elite school, yes?) to unquestioningly follow orders?
Some small recommendations
"A liberal is a man too broad-minded to take his own side in a quarrel." (Robert Frost, cited by Barak Obama)
"You shoud take every statement I make as a question not an assertion." (Niels Bohr; instruction to his students, quote from memory (BMcC[18-11-46-503]))
- Respect children. I could have been the teachers' peer in discourse and learning, even if not in social power (see Footnote #5, below, for details how to do this):
41 Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, 'Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.' 49 'Why were you searching for me?' he asked. 'Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house [Or: be about my Father's business]?' 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. 51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:41-52)
- You reap what you sow. The Baltimore Sun newspaper reported on that in 2001. Anent: honor codery, Bertolt Brecht adonished:
"I have fought the good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith"? Cui bono? A Cat Stevens (Yusef) song asks the question: "Why am I dying to live if I am only living to die?" We are The Crusaders? Do we really want to liberate the Holy City (Jerusalem) from people who may be more civilized than ourselves?
Student: "Happy the land that breeds a hero."
Galileo: "No. Unhappy the land that needs a hero."
- Educate students to have open minds and to appreciate that Eternal Truths are transient, parochial notions, and that what endures is perspicaciously to rise above identification with changeable things. Saul of Tarsus is a great teaching example: He was a True Believer in Judaism. Then he became a True Believer in Christianity, or rather, one particular Christian sect. Cannot what happens in this world once happen again? Might Saul/Paul have become yet some other _aul: a True Believer in yet another ideology of the day, had he lived long enough to have another transformative epileptic seizure? Teach young persons to stand above the shifting sands of social customs and take everything with a grain of sand.
⇒ Gott mit uns. If the boy had gone to Gilman School, would he be saying: "Beat Gilman!"? Isn't there a message in that for his adult life, say, when he may be asked by his country's government's leaders to die for their country , and not just by his school's teachers to win a lacrosse game for their school? Or am I just living in the past and the school has long since already been doing this?
- Why not not teach agonistic practices that can deeply strengthen the young men's bodies and spirits instead of just having them drill in head-butting? And what might this be? Oriental martial arts. Win with the mind not the meatball.
"Honor code", is at root a dishonor code, is against reason and causes harm
"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." (The Lord's Prayer)
Honor code says that when the faculty thinks a student may have done something they do not like but which is not punishable in a court of law, the student should split his (her or other) personality into a part that collaborates with the faculty and a part that did the disapproved of act, by the former informing on and maybe even carrying out punishment on the latter (a snake eating its own tail). The part of the student's self thus split off has to be disowned by the informer part that becomes a witness for the prosecution against the student. Where does the disowned part go? If it is totally destroyed you are left with a person who has lost part of their mind. Lose enough of it and there is no soul left except for an informer: a "hollow man".
Add to this that students are supposed to inform on other students whom they see breaking the rules, and does this necessarily end inside the school or could it lead to the person becoming an operative of an organization such as the Stasi ("East Germany" (DDR) security service)? Vladimir Putin has reminded us: "There is no such thing as a former KGB Officer."
The split off part of the student's soul will subconsciously smolder, and, if ever given the opportunity, discharge itself, like a high-voltage static electricity charge. This could result in violence against the school, but, since the person even as an adult usually remains powerless to get revenge on the people who did it to him (her or other) and even likely had repressed the whodunnits to be able to continue endure being a student, the more likely result is either for the person to hurt somebody else → metaphorically, to: "kick or kill a cat", or, for more sensitive young persons, to take it out on themself, becoming anomic and depressed, possibly anorexic and/or suicidal, etc. Participation in a psychology experiment which secretly explored how persons react to being humiliated was the proximate cause of a mentally fragile mathematical genius Harvard undergraduate becoming The Unabomber.
Isn't the solution to the problem for the school to straightforwardly earn each student's trust by becoming a loving mother: "alma mater", a loving, accepting mother, so that students will have no reason to do anything that should trouble their conscience due to the school's behavior, but if, perhaps from bad situations in their home or social life, they do act out, they will come to a faculty member for empathic help, like a toddler who has skinned his knee seeks help from mommy whom he trusts will console and help him, not hurt him further?
On the other side, enforcing honor code should be expected to have deleterious psychological consequences on the faculty enforcers, reinforcing self-righteous, persecutory aspects of the psyche of any adult whose own childrearing involved psychological hurt, for instance by themselves in their youth having been subjected to a disciplinary school. Even if these things are repressed in ordinary daily life, these adults may take advantage of an opportunity to release their own repressed rage on the student who is the target of an honor code proceeding → again, "kick or kill a cat". If "it hurts me more than it hurts you" then I are messing with my own head to my own and other's peril; if it hurts you more than it hurts me, what other cruelty will I not be troubled about perpetrating? Alice Miller noted that the only person in Adolf Hitler's childhood home whom the father did not abuse was the family dog.
Honor code is at its core a dishonor code: it is based dishonoring students for their misadventures in living. Instead of disowning part of himself, the student could be gently guided to thematically integrate what he did or failed to do, which at the time of adjudication is largely in the past, and therefore largely irrelevant except as a sign of possible future issues → the student should be guided to integrate his past, by understanding it in a richer constructive context, into a self-reflectively reconstructed more inclusive imaginative horizon in which memory will serve to help him be smarter and wiser -- inter alia, like learning defensive driving. (Of course, this assumes what the student did was less than rationally advisable, and not just something the school administration did not like, in which latter case the school should set a good example of enlightened tolerance.) Build up, not tear down. Who does not want to better themselves if it does not hurt them to do so? (Yes, some have been so traumatized that they are self-destructive; they need additional rehabilitative support)
Take the words seriously: Be a loving/nurturing mother: "alma mater"! I certainly could have used one (See Background section, above). If a student has done something horrific and not just some faux pas cooked up and/or caused by the school, and action needs to be taken to prevent the student from doing further harm to themselves or to others, there is not need to extract a confession first to mess with the kid's head. Just present the evidence to the defendant and enforce extramural (public) laws which are clearly for the benefit of all persons, including the student, the school, and the broader extramural social world. If the decision is wrong, there should be remediation, or, worst case, the student's psychological integrity has not been vitiated: he still believes his own thoughts, not manipulations, just also that he was hurt unjustly. In turn the rules should be developed with the students, without them operating under intimidation or expectation that they will follow some unrealistic set of values like romanticized Crusader-mind, or the notorious dictum which I did not learn at StP: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
As for students cheating on ETS examinations and such, how can anyone justify anti-social objectifying classification of living persons, like the USDA classifies animal carcasses (right)? Maybe you've just got to console the students and offer empathy for misfortunate conditions in the larger adult world that no school has the power to put an end to or to protect its students from. We're deeply sorry about things we can't do anything about, kids. We do love you even if we cannot stop the larger society from mistreating you with such things as SAT's; we are committed to doing the best anyone can to protect and help you.
+2021.05.09. I read in The New York Times newspaper that, during the remote learning caused by Covid-19, college administrators are escalating deployment of computer snooping software to track down would-be "cheaters" with a vengeance, and sometimes the software itself generates the putatively incriminating data ("Online Cheating Charges Upend Dartmouth Medical School", NYT. +2021.05.09). There is a simple solution to cheating: Give students only assignments where they will have no reason or wish to cheat. When I wrote an essay on a topic in which I had a passionate interest and opinions that (to the best of my knowledge...) nobody else ever had, obviously I was not going to cheat. How could I cheat, because nobody had the answers I was going to create not regurgitate? Isn't it cheating or at least intellectually repugnant for teaches to withhold from students what they know, so that the students are impeded from advancing knowledge and have to waste their time and energy reinventing the wheel? How can students stand on the shoulders of giants when their teachers are kneeing their necks down into the [semiotic] pavement?
If one sincerely wants persons to be virtuous, make what is virtuous be more pleasurable for them, and easier for them to do, than any other alternative. "H.L. Mencken's definition of Puritanism[:] the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.'" (Paul Krugman, NYT OpEd, 19 Mar 2021)
Let me give an example, the Inquisitorial Proceeding to which the school subjected me (above) because I wrote "FUCK" in winter's fog on a school transportation vehicle window. (So what?) If the school did not want kids to use "obscenity" words, then the school should have organized school life in such a way that no student would ever have the least reason to even think of, or a fortiori, actually use, one of those words. But it you are self-righteous sadists who lust to get off on making young persons suffer, then you do as was done to me: you create an environment the kid has rational reason to dislike and one way the young person may express their anger and frustration is by using those words he knows you don't like. Then you get your jollies by punishing the student for "misbehaving", i.e.: for reasonably reacting to what what the school is doing to him: blame the victim → subject the young person to a psychologically destructive "double-bind". Third alternative: Do the thing the kid doesn't like to him, but then encourage him to say "obscenity " words until he tires himself out if that's what he wants to do because it is an objectively harmless way for the kid to vent his well earned anger and frustration at an institution which refuses to do right by him. (THis should hav ebeen too obvious to have needed explicating here.)
The Student Council
When I was a student at StP, I did not give thought to the "Student Council". I never knew what it really was; I had just heard the name a few times. This day, 10 April 2021, I went looking in the 1964 yearbook again (thank you, Classmates.com!), thinking I would find an "Honor Code" student activity, and I figured out that had to be: the "Student Council".
The student council is an organization in which the students cooperate with the faculty to promote the moral welfare of the student body and of the school as a whole. The members are chosen by popular vote [Aside: I (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) never voted or knew or would have cared there was a vote, because I felt group activities in general were deindividuating / depersonalizing].... The student council is a court which tries students accused of honor violations.... But the student council also performs a preventative function, attempting to help students to act honestly so that they will not have to come later to trial for misdemeanors. The student council does a great service for the school. (p.102)
In other words, the Student Council was a group of voluntary collaborators: inmates policing the inmates, indoctrinating and homologizing those whose behavior did not conform to the institution's rules, thus helping them to have only politically correct thoughts (Ger.: "Funktionshäftlinge").
Therefore: I was actually being honored by the Faculty when they subjected me to two Inquisitorial Proceedings, perhaps because I was too big a fish for the Student Council to fry, perhaps because my putative infractions transcended the microscopic dimensionality of their honor code vector space, perhaps because my infractions were too threatening to the regime to be left to the collaborators [who, for all I know, may have naively thought they were just doing good?] to possibly screw up, or some combination thereof? Since I openly "opposed the cult of school spirit", I suspect I was a known heretic.
Give the Faculty credit where credit was due: They did not proceed in my first show trial without a "voluntary" confession. And in the second show trial they either got the point that one of their own had been negligent by not adequately monitoring the prisoners, or else they didn't want to face the PR consequences of executing a politically valuable prisoner (also: for all his limitations, my father might not have been happy with that, and, being a marketing manager, he knew something about dealing with people and institutions). Today I am honored to not have been thrown to the collaborators, like Pontius Pilate let the mob vote on Jesus Christ. IHS
Aside: It is not inconceivable that one (two?) of my three classmates on the Student Council was somewhat jaded about the whole honor code shtick. Unlikely but possible. In Abel Gance's silent film, "Napoleon", there are two clerks in the office of The Terror whom the film calls: "Eaters of Documents": They save persons from the guillotine by masticating and swallowing their dossiers.
+2021.05.19. "Those 10-year-olds who signed up to join the Hitler Youth could not have known they were joining what ultimately became a criminal organization. They were just kids wanting to be in a uniform, to be part of a peer group, and be part of something great in Germany. When you think about it in that way, I think I probably would have joined.... We have to be accountable for our actions." (Dr. Stephen Smith, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation) Isn't a personal ethical accountability code different from an honor code which those young team-spirited Germans surely had in spades?
A tale of two teachers
Reference lost, but a true story from Quora: A young boy had attended an elementary school which had been benign for him. His first day in junior high school, his first period in science class, he felt hurt by the science teacher who got off on being tough [I forget exactly what the teacher did, but you, my reader, can imagine for yourself].
The boy was in tears, and (and this is the part I do not understand, namely: how he ever found a sympathetic teacher in school:) he went to his English teacher, who had the memorable name: Mrs. Dean. In despair, he asked Mrs. Dean if this was what he had to look ahead (but, obviously, not forward) to for the rest of his life [now that, no longer in elementary school, he was in the real world] and if he had just better get used to it. Mrs. Dean told him that what he had experienced was not acceptable and that if any teacher ever did it to him again, he should tell the teacher it was not right. End of story.
Aside: One reason I am calling St. Paul's School to an accounting is that, by hook or by crook and at whatever cost to my soul and my body, I was on the Headmaster's list: I was an academic winner, not some good-for-nothing the school would manage to get admitted to Sometime Partyboys College. The school knew I was not nothing. Therefore, for me to say the academics were not very enlightening cannot be dismissed as just ineptitude and laziness.
I would love to also have been a Marty Cain, so that I could have told everybody: "School spirit is just faculty PR." I even hypothesize at least a few of the boys the school would cast as "jocks" were cynical enough to have some notion that false quote was true, and that they were just playing the game to get along, e.g., per suggestive evidence from both sides of Mr. Fertig's math class (supra). There apparently were things classmates with lower I.Q.'s than me knew that made them smarter in life, not in "blue books", than me, for whom education about life came only from "my" teache[r]s.
Through decades of study and with much effort and late in life I may be learning things that came to some other students from lower places, far more cheaply and much earlier. Nacht und nebel. To borrow a phrase from my tragic first-line computer programming manager (1974-76) at Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust Company:
"They put me off at the wrong stop when I was born." (Doug Schaff)
Two American History lessons (incl.: The United States Declaration of Independence)
"Did the paper you submitted in school change how the teacher thought about the world?" (Quote from possibly imperfect memory of question Head of Univ. of Chicago's Writing Program asks PhD candidates trying to get journal articles published)
"The Best Obituary Ever - Alexander Brown of Baltimore This might have been the best obituary ever. Alexander Brown was the patriarch of a large family of bankers that settled here in Baltimore in the early 1800s and started Alex Brown and Sons.... I stumbled upon this March 21, 1892 New York Times obituary of Alexander Davison Brown who died on March 20 of 1892 and was grandson of the bank's founder. Alexander Brown's Death - An Old Age Made Miserable By An Unwise Marriage Baltimore, March 20 1892 -- Alexander Brown seventy-three years died here to-day. He was a member of the well-know family of bankers, but was outlawed from society on account of his marriage to Laura Hobson. This woman was the daughter of his father's lodge keeper. Brown fell in love with her and would have married her then, but she disappeared, and when next he met her she was the leader of the local demi-monde. He persuaded her to marry him, and the result was the greatest scandal in the history of Baltimore Society. He took his bride to his magnificent country place, Brooklyn Wood, in the midst of the most aristocratic neighborhood of the State, and there, with convivial spirits, big celebrations and orgies were held. The match resulted in cross-suits for divorce. Mr.Brown won the case, but the woman Hobson got $3,000 a year and kept her dower rights.... Mr. Brown was accomplished, but, unlike his family, which represents much of what is best in the life of the city, he had no taste for business, and his gay career made for him a very miserable old age.... Alexander Davison Brown, the dead guy in question, was born on May 30, 1823 and in 1843 married his first wife, Colgate Die Nisbet. We also learn that Colgate was much older than Alexander Brown.... Colgate Nisbet died on March 30, 1879. We don't know much about Laura Hobson, all we learn is that she married Alexander Brown in August 1880. A check of the Baltimore Sun archives makes no mention of the nuptials and ensuing honeymoon orgy, but there is a notation that in Baltimore County in 1868 that a Laura Hobson was charged for keeping a bawdy house. She was found not guilty. Where did the Honeymoon orgy take place? I was curious about this Brookland Wood home.... The estate is now the St. Paul School for Boys in of all places, Brooklandville, MD. This is an expensive private school that wouldn't be worth mentioning other that the ghost of Alexander and Laura Brown must have had an impact on the young lads that attend. In 2001 Baltimore society was aghast that a St. Paul's School lacrosse player video taped himself having sex with a girl from another private school, and then showed the video tape to the rest of the St. Paul Lacrosse Team.... So how did well did Laura Hobson make out? The body of Alexander Davison Brown is barely cold, but that doesn't stop Mrs. Brown nee Hobson from rushing into court on March 24, 1892 with her lawyer demanding her cut...." (Saturday, January 14, 2012, Read the source: Click here)
When I was a young person that was a target of testing and grading, aka: student, "American History" was something I avoided as best I could, because all it was for me was just one more opportunity to get a bad grade for failing to do something one of my masters cooked up to test me on, concerning which they had aroused in me no interest. Nobody was teaching me about the big sex scandal in the Brooklandwood mansion → in the 19th century (above), either.
The sex scandal in the Brooklandwood mansion is an Amerian history lesson parochial to StP. The second is universal and far more important. Are young persons to study the United States Declaration of Independence?
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That never meant anything to me. It was just words, like the Dickens. But this day (+2021.07.31) I clearly saw this big invisible elephant in the room: For teachers to grade students is a modern analog to pricing human beings for sale on a slave market auction block. Students have no right to life or liberty or, a fortiori, the pursuit of their happiness if they are chained to doing things to get graded like slabs of meat to determine their market price. Would an American History teacher dare treat The President of The United States, or his Headmaster, or even just his brother or sister or wife as a thing (object) to be graded like meat or mineral ore, not as human beings to be respectfully engaged as equals in peer discourse? Now that I see it (which has taken me almost 60 years), isn't the massive existential contradication here -- saying one thing but doing the opposite -- obvious? Let us teach young persons the Declaration of Independence as their daily living, not just as a collection of Ascii character strings. Assignment:
"Write a short paper comparing your experiences in daily living with the words cited above from the Declaration of Independence. Include your judgment about this assignment, itself, and what you think and feel should be done about and with it."
And yet a third item: Of course I was not so gullible as to take Mr. Clark's "advanced placement" American History course. I did not care about Ameerica (I had it at home at night and in St. Paul's during the day). I did not care about History which was just memorizing names, dates and places which were all in Encyclopedia Americana or the textbook. Mr. Clark struck me as the most soulless disciplinarian of all the masters in the school: to be avoided if at all possible. So I took American History for jocks taught by Coach Tullai.
For decades after graduating I had bad dreams of my diploma being revoked (a start of falling dominos...) because I never turned in my term paper (did we have one in that class?). Now, here is the irony: Ca. 1995, by chance, I made a major sholarly discovery in Amerian History: the story of the "star and bars" insignia on all U.S. military aircraft since 1943 (right). I doubt any other student in the history of the school ever did; In Mr. Clark's class they probably wrote papers for the trash can after he had graded them. But I turned in my term paper 30 years too late: "F"! (It was only in the 1980s that I learned Marshall McLuhan's first law: "The medium is the message", by studying under one of his closest friends, Prof. Louis Forsdale; but I had implicitly learned that lesson at St. Paul's: School was not primarily even about learning course material but about doing ass—ignments to dead—lines: "obedience training".)
Proposal to improve education while saving costs; StP could set a groundbreaking example and publish important research
"Kids retain 5 percent of what they hear and 10 percent of what they read but 80 percent of what they do and 90 percent of what they teach." (Robert Ballard)
Most of what students do is wasted effort (computer programming acronym: "GIGO" -- garbage in, garbage out). They do assignments which as soon as they get graded go in trash cans, yes? Instead of all this waste, why not deploy the bright, educationally oriented students as the teachers for the lower grades? They could do the job, probably better than the generally less intelligent adults whom schools have to pay to do it in the current pedagogical regime. And these teacher-students would learn great stuff by the doing (we know that "muscle memory" is the best kind, not sitting in a hard wood chair memorizing "A-s-h-u-r-b-a-n-i-p-a-l"), like how to teach and the structure of interpersonal communication in sometimes difficult situations, not just how to make little marks in circles on answer sheets with No. 2 pencils. And what could they write term papers on? Self-reflection on communication in educational process in social life.
I have no doubt that my classmate Allen Moulton who went from StP to The Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT) could have taught Algebra when he was teaching himself the Calculus, yes? As for less academically inclined students, why waste their time teaching them headbutting, when they could be volunteering in hospices and SPCA's? Wouldn't that be even more meaningful than the kids cooking up dog and pony shows ("theater arts") for their parents to pretend to be impressed by when few of them will become Sir Laurence Oliviers?
It would be easy. It would save money. It would be publishable. (Aside: Do you THINK StP might have got more value out of me had the school thought about what it was doing? Might I have become then already something of the person I have become in the subsequent 55 years, with much more joy in my life, and contributing to the teche[r]s continuing education, too? A win-win instead of negative sum game?)
Comment to The New York Times on "The U.S. and Russia Need to Start Talking Before It's Too Late"
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Bradford McCormick | New York
@David H From you I hear SANITY, Sir! Russians love their country just like American love country. It's all a matter of the GPS coordinates of the birth canal the kid came out of. I attended a "prep" school, not Dalton like Mr. Blinken. Mr. Blinken needs to be assigned to write an essay nobody in the school I went to was assigned. My school's chief rival was Gilman School. The faculty got my school' kids all intoxicated before lacrosse games on testosterone and adrenaline, shouting: "Beat Gilman!" They never assigned the kids to write an essay: "Do students at Gilman School shout 'Beat Gilman!'? If yes, why. If no, why not. Your paper is due on my desk Friday at 10AM. Class dismissed." [Aside: Esprit d'escalier. I should have written"Friday at 10AM, before the big game."]
Prisons are made for men by men. St. Paul's School for Boys made me be a student, a pupil, a grade-slave. It was indeed a preparatory institution. The school prepared me for the adult economy to make me be an employee, a wage-slave. I was never a free person. I could never awaken in the morning with the openness to self-accountably, creatively shape my coming day. Iacta erat alea: the curriciulum was defined. I paid dearly for not going along with it, starting with being frozen out from what jocks got. I never had an alma mater (loving mother). Prisons are made for men by men. Damn you all.
"Why are you doing this to me?" (last words of a woman doctor being murdered by an intruder in a stairway in New York's Bellevue Hospital, recorded on surveillance camera; ref. lost)
"There is a heppy land, fur, fur away." (Krazy Kat)
Picture of Bradford McCormick age ca. 3 years in front of spiked stone wall surrounding an orphanage for wayward boys: my stalag picture. Was that my dog tag I was holding? SSS number: 18-11-46-503).
At some point I saw a film which expressed the hope I always at least pre-thematically had in life, Jean Renoir's: "The Grand Illusion" (1937). It is the story of two French officers who were prisoners of war in The War to End All Wars (World War I). Because they were officers, the story does not apply to myself, who was/am just a Zek.
The two officers were treated admirably well by their German captors. But they were determined to escape. By hook and by crook, and one of them badly limping, as the film nears its end, the two comrades approach the Swiss border and if they make it across, safety. A German patrol spots them, and the soldiers raise their rifles and take aim at their two easy targets who are crossing a vast snow covered field with no border markings.
The soldiers' Officer commands: "Hold your fire! They are over the border. The war is over for them. And so much the better for them." The grand illusion. What I have always hoped: that my sufferings (among them, being subjected to unenlightenment (tenebrae mentium tenebra orbis) and testing on it by StP masters and their extramural avatars, would end before I ended and I would at last enjoy living before it was too late for me.
There is one educational institution from which I will never graduate although I am always enrolled: The School of Hard Knocks. Why not cry, Rrose Selavy?
- (A) Original email from myself to Dr. Huang:
Greetings, Dr. Huang!
Let me introduce myself. I graduated first in my class at St; Paul's School for Boys in the class of 1964 for the cumulative 4 years of high school. (Allen Moulton was first in the senior year.) I went on to attend Yale College where I graduated 1968 "Honors with exceptional distinction in philosophy." I later received a 2nd class doctorate (Ed.D.) at Teachers College Columbia University with a dissertation: "Communication: The Social Matrix of Supervision of Psychotherapy" (1994; UMI #9511056).
I would like to talk with you about my experience at the school (which I see is now your school), 1958-1964. This is important to me and I think it might be interesting to yourself as an educator and also as head of the school.
I myself am aging, now 74 years old. Especially due to Covid-19, life is tenuous.
If you would have some time to talk with me on the phone, I will welcome opportunity to share with you my thoughts and feelings about my experience from the years I attended the school..
Respectfully, and hoping this inquiry finds you well in the current time of pandemic,
Bradford McCormick, Ed.D.
19 Stanwood Road
Mount Kisco, New York 10549
914.471.7570 (If calling this number, I am not always available so kindly leave a message with return number and preferred time of reply)
- (B) Email from myself to Headmaster (editted to remove irrelevant email headers and to reformat the text; text itself unchanged):
Date: Tue, 07 Jul 2020 10:01:56 -0400
From: Brad McCormick <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Growth v. cheering ~ Your recent Message
I was in class of '64 -- look me up in the files if such still exist.
In your recent Message, I read "a safe place for all students", "the privilege of supporting young people in their growth and development", but also "a little loud during athletic contests, as I join you in cheering [Editor note: See example StP cheering crowd, above] on our boys in blue and gold."
I was perhaps the first and maybe even the only student to ever engage in passive resistance to cheer rallies. As a student I was required to attend but I was tolerated to stand silently sullenly at the back of the upper school courtyard during the proceedings. I don't know if you know such books as Elias Canetti's "Crowds and Power". Cheer rallies were events where the students were homogenized into parts of a mass (not the religious kind). "the boys"? My father was in the WWII Army Air Corps, and "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"
I would call myself the School's bad unconscious. I respectfuly submit that a person cannot simultaneously hold values of safety and growth (etc.) for young persons and also celebrate contact athletics / cheer rallies, unless one engages in what psychoanalysts call "splitting". My teachers were "masters" and, in retrospect I do not relate to having been a member of a subservient species. Hopefuly students today are indeed treated with the dignity which accrues to peers in discourse (ref. Jurgen Habermas).
Football and lacrosse seemed to me subhuman brutish things worthy not of Crusaders (who were not always exactly saints), but of how Atilla's men were characterized by the civilized albeit decadant Romans. Locker room nudity of pubsescent males? Two students in my class were expelled in 7th grade, I believe -- although I did not know sex existed at that time --, for having oral sex in the middle school boy's restroom. Hypocrisy + in, as I would find later at Yale, in loco parentis (which I translate as parents are insane).
Hopefully you are taking the helm of a *very* differnt institution than the one I attended, where I have long had fantasies of Saul of Tarsus hitting his head a lot harder when he fell off his horse on Damascus Road. I sincerely hope students are respected as individual persons today. Certainly the insstitution I attended knew nothing of Maria Montessori or John Dewey.
Thank you for making your email adress available so that I could perhaps preach to you (St. Paul's School made me an atheist and one of the few decent things about my experience there was religious freedom for both students and faculty who elected to exercise it -- later in life I have mellowed to be agnostic and antitheistic).
Best wishes! May your tenure be as, in Homer's Odyssey, were Odysseus's golden years of peace after he completed the teaching assingment which a god -- Athena? -- assiged to him! Keep well!
brad mccormick, Ed.D., StP '64
- (C) Since I had sent Dr. Huang the present statement prior to our meeting on 08 February 2021, I had prepared some talking points for the meeting itself:
What is my purpose [in contacting Dr. Huang? To find someone at the school who would listen to and understand what I had to share, even if not agree with me.] Bear witness. [Elie Wiesel said: "Do not compare! All suffering is intolerable." I consider myself a holocaust (lower-case "h") survivor.]
Imagination: "Other than chance encounters, we can only encounter in reality that which we have previously encountered in fantasy." (Gordon Hirshhorn) [My imagination was not cultivated at the school.]
"The city is the place of availabilities. It is the place where a small boy, as he walks through it, may see something that will tell him what he wants to do his whole life." (Louis Kahn)
What should have been expected of St. Paul's School? [I have a friend who is a highly successful government computer consultant, whose parents perhaps never even got to junior high school. They could not properly raise him in terms of education and such. They did their best and it was good enough: They supported him forming himself. They said to him, and meant it:] "Tom, do what you believe is right You will make mistakes. We stand behind you." [I think the faculty of StP, most if not all of whom were college educated and a few with more advanced degrees, could have done at least as well.]
English class readings were largely meaningless to me. Example of literature that is meaningful for me, the ending of Part I of Hermann Broch's "The Sleepwalkers", which is an antipode to Who, What, Where and Why questions, Hidden meanings and Surprise endings:] "With the material for character construction with which the reader has been provided, he can figure out the rest for himself." (Hermann Broch)
"I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain." (John Adams) [With great difficulty I traversed in one generation from a father who died from liver cancer due to having worked in a lead paint factory as a teenager, to the end of John Adams's hierarchy of values. For decades, I have known the title of a great American novel I never expect to write: "Waste" (cf.: Erich von Stroheim's silent film: "Greed").]
I would welcome to give a history lecture to the St. Paul's Schools faculty. [I anticipate my statement here will be archived appropriately by the school, for study and research.]
- (D) Song sung a capella by the
teenteamage students as a non-sacramental mass, to self-stimulate their enthusiasm for the competitive body-contact athletic teams. I vaguely seem to recall this was called the school's "Fight song", as if bellicosity was something to be proud of?
Probably followed by group synchronized cheering noises, not sure, but maybe: "Rah! Rah! Rah!"? [As noted above, I (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) opposed the cult of school spirit.]
Come on now, Saint Paul's, / let's win this ball game! / Let's write it down in his toe ree! / Our hearts and vio ces will rise [←this word not certain; might be: "cheer"?] in tri umph, / as we march to vic tor ee! / For ever! / Cheer for Saint Paul's, our alma mater! / We will be al ways true and bold! / And we'll fight, fight, fight for ever, / for The Blue and Gold!"
- (E) The limits of testing. Testing places a person at a point on an existing metric. A new idea is by definition something that is outside the bounds of the known, i.e., the whole existing metric space. Therefore a person who has a new idea cannot appropriately be tested because the new idea does not have a place within the existing metric space but rather extends that space. A person, no matter how young (or old) who has a new idea cannot rightly be graded, only respected. Conversely, grading can be applied to anyone who does not have a new idea, for instance the Headmaster of a school, or the parent of a child. Whether grading should ever be applied to any living human being as opposed to, e.g., a dead animal carcass (USDA) is, of course, a different question. If grading is applied to St. Paul's School for Boys Headmaster S. Atherton Middleton, he gets an A+ for my classmate Marty Cain because Mr. Cain went on at Harvard to do the almost impossible: beating Princeton in lacrosse for the first time in 43 years. He gets an F for me (BMcC[18-11-46-503]), in regard to both academics and humanity, for reasons cited above.
- (F) Improved pedagogy 101. Physics: Give the students the questions and the answers. Their assignment is to produce a detailed audit log showing how the given facts lead to the answer or why they could not do this. Some possibilities: (1) Could not reproduce the answer but here is what I got and how I got it, or (2) Experiment required a piece of capital equipment I did not have and did not have authorization to purchase. English: Have the students read the first half of the book and write their own ending to it; there is no right or wrong answer. Alternative: Give them the list and description of the characters and have them write a whole book about them; again, no right or wrong answer.
To write precisely, St. Paul's School did not impoverish my young soul, because from one to whom nothing has been given, there is nothing to be taken away. (BMcC)
A scientist wrote (The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert, +2022.06.13, p. 24):
"I want to know what it is like for a bat to be bat," [the philosopher Thomas] Nagel insisted. "Yet if I try to imagine this, I am restricted to the resources of my own mind, and those resources are inadequate. The question "What is it like to be a bat?," he concluded, is one that people will never answer; it lies "beyond our ablility to conceive."
So, similarly, the faculty of St. Paul's School for Boys and me, BMcC[18-11-46-503], had they ever asked the question. But they were not the least bit interested.
- ↑ This should extrapolate: In politics, I urge it is good to be neutral, not on either side or the other. Neither fight for St. Paul's nor fight for Gilman, but standing aside the fray and build an unaligned civil society school, which need not even have a campus but could exist only as a website. Here, have one: here!
- ↑ On the subject of demythification, consider the following excerpt from an address by J. Robert Oppenheimer to a 1965 UNESCO gathering honoring Einstein on the 50th anniversary of the general theory of relativity: "I thought it might be useful, because I am sure that it is not too soon---and for our generation perhaps almost too late---to start to dispel the clouds of myth and see the great mountain peak that these clouds hide. As always, the myth has its charms; but the truth is far more beautiful." (SCIENCE, 16 May 1980, p. 698)
- ↑ Your Comment on Deshaun Watson's Case Tests the N.F.L.'s Resolve, and Its Values
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Why doesn't everybody admit that the whole macho lockerroom compatitive "body contact" athletics thing breeds men who, unlike the nobles of the 11th Century Japanese court, do not woo the ladies by writing gracious poetry and playing alute-like musical instrument and whose estheticism would probably make them psychoogically incapable of getting it up for a stud scene nor would they demean themselves to even trying such a thing Shouldn't women refuse sex to macho males and only bestow their favors on connoisseurs of the arts and sciences? As I child I attended a male-only "prep" school nominally associated with the Episcopal Cuurch where they worshipped graven images: shiny plated team victory trophies. The jocks got omerta sanitary services. In 2001, one of their prized budding young minotaurs violated the code of silence by videotaping himself having sex witt a girl, showed it to the team, parents found out and it was a huge society scandal in Baltimore MD. Of course the stupid kid was expelled. They had been #1 in the nation and cancelled their season. But the next year they were back lacrossing again with theboys wearing their steel masks over their faces to keep them from being smashed. Is this the way to develop young men who want to make love not war, who will be not "gentlemen" but gentle men? Go team!
- ↑ This is a translation from the original German. It could have been translated: "tolerate", but tolerance is something perhaps beyond the emotional range of jocks and their teaches. I think even a football head butter could find things he would not "put up with": that's more visceral and fundamental to sentient life.
- ↑ Example of appropriate treatment of a young person by an adult: Sandor Ferenczi wrote, in an essay evocatively titled "The Adaptation of the Family to the Child": I am reminded of an incident with a little nephew of my own, whom I treated as leniently as, in my view, a psycho-analyst should. He took advantage of this and began to tease me, then wanted to beat me, and then to tease and beat me all the time. Psycho-analysis did not teach me to let him beat me ad infinitum, so I took him in my arms, holding him so that he was powerless to move, and said: "Now beat me if you can!" He tried, could not, called me names, said that he hated me; I replied: "All right, go on, you may feel these things and say these things against me, but you must not beat me." In the end he realized my advantage in strength and his equality in fantasy, and we became good friends. (Sandor Ferenczi, "Final contributions to the problems and methods of psychoanalysis", 1955, p. 75)
- ↑ Real war heroes, such as Saburo Sakai (Japanese fighter pilot in World War II), often would much rather never to have had to fight. I would like the war heroes who survive, on returning home, look their Leaders squarely in the eye and tell them: "Damn you for having sent us to do it." Apparently Mr. Sakai politely came close to doing this.
It is not possible concurrently both to have fun and also be competing to win. When interviewed and asked what was the happiest moment of her career, the famous gymnast Simone Biles replied: "Honestly, probably my time off." (NYT, +2021.07.25)
- ↑ Just in case you miss the hidden meaning here, my reader, this is an ironic allusion to: "la petite mort". If I have the French wrong here, please correct me, as I do pretend to knowledge I do not have and I do risk making mistakes in the service of greater goods.
- ↑ Mar 22, 2022, 1:54 PM. The New York Times. Your comment has been approved! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with The New York Times community. Bradford McCormick | New York.
As a child in the 1950s I was a victim of a terrible sex crime nobody talks about: being kept ignorant of my body's possibility for erotic pleasure, enforced celibacy, and other forms of sexual repression by antisexual prig parents and teachers, following upon having had part of my physiological potential to enjoy my body hacked away ("circumcision") as an infant. In college "in loco parentis" was still in force. Both a mind and a body are terrible thing to waste. I was not a minotaur (jocks got to copulate if they kept the code of omerta); I was a physically and emotionally fragile but highly esthetically sensitive and intelligent young male, but that should not have meant I was denied healthy sexual gratification. It should have meant I would have been graciously guided toward opportunities for erotic connoisseurship, not how I presumed jocks used girls for sanitary services. I would gladly have had some tea and sympathy. I listen to people carping about all sorts of issues that at root go back to the inconvenient fact that people have gonads. I just want to say: MeToo! I would have been heterosexual and had I been able to find a suitable partner I would not ever have even looked with lust in my heart at another woman for the rest of my life. All I got was involuntary chastity and a bunch of prigs. Would being "sexually abused", provided not in ways that would require medical attention have been better?
- ↑ Long before StP, I learned that America was not altogether a free country: My earliest memory, from maybe age 3 or 4 years, is trauma of being haircutted (I later learned that, in World War II, Partisans in Vichy France shaved the heads of women whom they found had sexual relations with German soldiers). It was only at about age 40 years, working in IBM Research, that I finally was able to cease undergoing what I felt to be this bi-weekly passum sub iugum. At StP, I learned that America is not a free enterprise country, because it was not approved for me to broker bets against the school's athletic games (I was agnostic as to who should win). I did not need the few cents; I was trying to figure out how people make profits, which puzzled me. I also wanted to be somebody, like teachers were, not nothing, which is what I felt I was as a doer of school assignments. I should have been a teacher, not a pupil / puppet. (There was also a rational reason for not betting against St. Paul's at that time: the school's varsity contact athletic teams rarely lost a game.) Before that, I had similarly tried lending classmates lunch money at interest (this taught me that profits depend on coercive enforcers, because the borrowers did not always repay me). Later in life, I learned that my given name is humiliating: Etymologically, "Bradford" means: broad river crossing, i.e., ground people tread on to keep from getting wet as they proceed along their pathway of living. Being treated as an inferior being ("student", not peer) by "masters" did not help remediate my lack of self-esteem. Nor did occasional "book prizes" for pleasing them, like a restaurant waiter's tips.
- ↑ I know a man whose parents were dirt farmers who were almost illiterate. But they recognized he was different than they were, and they did what they could for him. He told me the key to his success in his life. His parents told him, and they meant it: "Tom. Do what you believe is right. You will make mistakes. We stand behind you." Could St. Paul's School have done as well, for me?
- ↑ To slightly misquote Alabama Governor George Wallace: "I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of teenage sexuality, and I say celibacy now, celibacy tomorrow, celibacy forever (except for don't-ask-don't-tell-sex-for-jocks, of course, so long as they don't bugger each other in the locker room, again, of course)."
- ↑ I wish I had learned more latin at StP, and ancient greek, also. Greek was not on the curriculum. 2nd year latin appeared to me in the shape of another opportunity to get a bad grade, not an invitation to graciously nurture and enrich my intellectual life. To minimize my chances for getting hurt [aka: getting a bad grade], I chose the foreign language for jocks: Spanish. Early on, I had learned the main lesson of graded schooling: I could be hurt by it.
- ↑ Sometimes, myself and another student would make up own words to sing to hymns. Chapel attendance was required for students but optional for teachers; I heard a rumor that two particular teachers were required to attend Chapel after they were spending time in the school's bookstore during Chapel (identities withheld).
- ↑ It is crucially important to convey that the total absence of imagination on the part of the school's faculty which they then transitively tried to make me be another instance of what they were, came close to completely destroying my mind (soul). Somehow a part of me survived this, and, as I now put it, I ended up "just" severely crippled, not a zombie. Had they been competent to nurture me, not just disciplinarianly inflict their agenda, I might have amounted to something more in life than to be just a consumer of consumer products. Maybe, say, a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State? Over the ensuing now almost 60 years since i got out of the school, I have slowly and haltingly recovered some of my creative spirit and therefore I am no longer chronically bored by being by being banal. A person who can intellectually create does not need to be kept from being bored to death by such distractions as school spirit in school and patriotism in adult life, i.e.: head-butting in on an athletic field as a teenager and dying on a battlefield or trying to earn promotions in a job in adult less-than-life. St. Paul's Day Carcel for Pubescent Male Virgins except-for-omerta-sanitary-services-for-jocks was a holocaust for me (←i do not mean that word to be taken lightly as a metaphor). What the school did to me did not harm only myself as person, it also deprived America politically of what I might have been able to contribute to the nation.
- ↑ Please see Walter J. Ong SJ's book: "Fighting for life", and especially his even more discouraging book: "Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue: From the Art of Discourse to the Art of Reason", which describes how a relatively alive intellectually agonistic medieval educational regime started degrading into rote memorization. These books seem to me to confirm what I have long thought: That my schooling at StP was at the decaying end of a centuries old pedagogical regime[n]. I was a victim of that old order which had a still physically functional (body-contact athletics capable) body but a mentality with only "notes by rote" remaining:
"Hammurabi's children made their house of slavery's bricks
Imprimatured by some mad priest's imagined good.
The good is gone; the priest stamps on...." (George Delury)
- ↑ What does being able to write fast have to do with thinking deeply? I was not aspiring to be a court stenographer, and they use shorthand, as also did Professors Edmund Husserl and Kurt Gödel. At the time of his death, Husserl left 40,000 pages of shorthand notes which were still being studied 70 years later. Shorthand was not taught at StP in 1958, but should have been if fast recording of information was a serious desideratum.
- ↑ A third-line manager (Richard Herodes) in IBM Corporation exhibited better appreciation for my specialness than the teaches at StP. He once told me: "We know you can do the work your way, but what should be do about all the other programmers who can't tell one thing from something that is different but looks similar?" For StP I was just another one of those "others", perhaps because they were not aware there was any distinction to be made? To the blind, all sheep are the same color.
- ↑ Asymmetrical social relationships are dehumanizing and false to both parties because they raise one side up to be a false deity and lower the other side down to be a false object.
In adult life I did make acquantance with some persons who deserved the title "master": These were master craftspersons, including a wood sculptor with two pieces of his work in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, not StP employees.
- ↑ The teachers and Mr. Middleton should have studied John 13:1-17 to learn how they should treat students with respect and how students should treat each other with respect also.
- ↑ I am asking a foundational question here. What I thought may be absurd on its face, but I was led by my experience of living to think it. What were the sociological conditions for the possibility of my having this belief? The locus of those pre-conditions was not in myself but in my childrearing and schooling, and if from the former, then why was it not remediated by the latter?
- ↑ One specific effect "school spirit" had on me was that, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and everybody else was all worked up about it, I felt nothing at all about it, because for me it was just another instance of people who didn't care about what I felt getting worked up about something "important" such as lacrosse games.
After Yale, I for some time attended First Unitarian Church in Baltimore, where William Ellery Channing had delivered "The Baltimore Sermon" (May 5, 1819): "Unitarian Christianity", which defined a humanistic theology for America. The text of Channing's sermon was 1 Thess 5:21: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." This statement is from Saul of Tarsus, but I did not learn it at StP. As an aside, somebody had told me the then current minister, a deeply educated man, Howard Waterhouse, had a fine collection of pre-1900 pornography, but I lacked both the education and the self-esteem to follow up on this.
- ↑ Lacrosse idolatry was apparently not unique to StP. The only person in my class Harvard accepted was Marty Cain, who, to the best of my knowledge, had mediocre academics but apparently stellar lacrosse. My father told me he had checked out why Harvard had selected Cain and not myself. I heard a rumor that Cain became mentally ill a few years after Harvard..
- ↑ This word needs to be semantically reconstellated as a celebratory, not profanity or curse word. There are plenty curse words to go around, including: (1) "prude" and (2) "prig". Furthermore, after the United States Presidency of Donald J Trump, the word "fuck" has become as commonplace in public discourse as maybe: "indigestion".
- ↑ "In 1969, in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the Supreme Court allowed students to wear black armbands to protest the Vietnam War, saying the students had not 'shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.' But disruptive speech, at least on school grounds, could be punished, the court added. (NYT, "Supreme Court Rules for Cheerleader Punished for Vulgar Snapchat Message", +2021.06.23)
- ↑ To see how a different child doing the same thing was handled in a more decent way, see Patricia Volk's book: "Stuffed" (Alfred Knopf, 2001), p. 6.
- ↑ The way I think they thought they had me trapped is that if I would deny doing it that would mean I was saying a certain fellow student did it who was not guilty of anything, which would have been dishonorable of me. Like in congressional investigations, when somebody who has been subpoenaed takes the 5th, it's obvious they have something to protect. But even in Joseph Stalin's Show Trials, they wanted confessions to make what they were doing look legitimate, when the real issue was that the trial itself was unjust.
- ↑ I would now say: "Minotaurs", not "hollow men", which latter was too generic.
- ↑ Note also that Allen Moulton had finessed having an esthetically good modern design cover for the Yearbook, instead of the kitsch bas-relief padded plastic Crusader in armor with lance that had been the [vulgar, tasteless] cover of previous classes' Yearbooks.
- ↑ Was I lucky to end up with only symptoms and suffering which did not generally cause my parents and teaches much inconvenience because otherwise might I have become a victim of The Troubled Teen Industry (TTI) which deploys unlimited brute force including physically killing the child if necessary, to normalize kids their parents cannot "control"?
- ↑ I seem to have heard a rumor that one reason Mr. Longstreth did not have time to edit yearbook pages was that he had a dysfunctional wife in his school-provided house. Unfortunately, this did not help me.
- ↑ Allusion here is to Immanuel Kant's description of space and time as transcendental frameworks or horizons for the possibility of empirical experience of a world of objects, in "The Critique of Pure Reason". A person who does not have enough to eat is empirically deprived. A person who lacks the notion that people (for instnace, themself) eat is categorially deprived. St. Paul's School for Boys not only starved me intellectually but deprived me of awareness of what I was being denied. I could not want what I did not know I was missing. To put this in terms the St. Paul's School for Boys faculty might have understood: If nobody knew the athletic of lacrosse existed, they could not win lacrosse games.
- ↑ Q:" How are you gonna keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen Paree?" A: Keep them from knowing about The City of Light even if they live within the city of limits of Paris (France). ~ Gordon Hirshhorn (personal correspondence): "Other than chance encounters, we can only encounter in reality what we have previously encountered in fantasy". A corollary of this is: "What men are willing to put up with depends on what they are able to look forward to." (Arnold Hauser)
- ↑ Parable: In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is surgically operated on to remove his eye and make him healthy, whole and "normal" like everybody else.
- ↑ In my doctoral dissertation I explored destructive and constructive communication in education in depth from foundations including Jürgen Habermas and Emmanuel Levinas. Empirical data came from self-observation of being a student (guinea pig) in another obstructive educational institution (a psychoanalytic training institute) in Westchester County, New York. At Teachers College Columbia University I was for the first time in my life able to thrive for a while because I found a couple professors who gave me chances to try to educate myself for graduate school credit, especially, now Emeritus, Weinburg Professor in Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Education Robert O. McClintock, who trusted me to RYO my dissertation to educate myself (or fail to...) when nobody else was ever going to appropriately educate me. I succeeded, although the job I had during much of the ensuing two decades left me wondering what learned and intelligent person wrote it. Also, in 1985 at TC, William F. Russell Professor in the Foundations of Education Professor Maxine Greene (who in 2004 would have an endowed chair named in her own honor), when I approached her at a start of her class on "Esthetics in Education", and told her I wanted to write an essay on a subject for which I had passionate interest, instead, repeat: instead of doing the course assignments and examinations, told me to go do it (because she had to give me a grade, I got an "A+" on the paper and an "A" for the course). Both a mind and a body are terrible things to waste.
- ↑ I recently discovered the pop singer Lana del Rey's literate-cynical music. She graduated from (survived?) Kent private school (Kent, New York) or were her parents just richer than mine and she had an outside school life whereas I did not, so that I was dependent on the school for spiritual and hormonal sustinance which I did not get there so that I was out of luck? I never had a drug or alcohol problem. Are her innate abilities so much greater than mine were? Words cannot redeem massive losses in my mortality. ~ I also did some educational research at Dalton School (NYC) and was sickened to see what was not being done to those young persons that had been done unto me. But I should probably be thankful that my parents had not sentenced me to Baltimore's McDonough School. Update: I looked at their website and McDonough School says it stopped being semi-military in 1971 and started admitting female students in 1975.
- ↑ Mr. Beernink (Spanish teach) was a petty person. One morning I greeted him with a crisp: "Bonas Diaz!" He knew I was not ignorant. He made me write: "Buenas Dias" 500 times. He should have lost his job for that, but I was a vulnerable child and he was one of my post-1863 in USA masters. Wouldn't a good teacher have just laughed it off, or better: have laughed at it with me? What was wrong with that man?
- ↑ University of Chicago Distinguished Service Professor John Mearsheimer, who teaches reality about international relations (realpolitik), is a year younger than I, so he could not have been my teacher, alas.
- ↑ Mr. William Clinton Burriss Young in his ancient history course cooked up an assignment that seemed to me especially targeted to humiliate me since I got good grades on regular paper school assignments: He had the students make a physical object representative of something from ancient history. One student who did very poorly on regular paper school assignments presented a beautifully crafted chariot; maybe his daddy made it? I lived in a place where there may not even have been a hammer, and I had never made any physical object in my life, so I failed the assignment pathetically. Had Mr. Young gently taken me aside and provided me with tools and material to do the project and coached me in wood shop work, I might have enjoyed the assignment; but, no, he threw me to the wolves, or maybe I am giving Mr. Young too much credit for hypothesizing he even noticed I existed. He had broken what I had imagined was the implicit contract between me and the school: If I got "A"'s on the teaches' paper assignments and so forth, if I performed as a good trained seal, the school would not do anything worse than it always had done ever since my parents placed me there to ratchet up the existing level of threat and harm to which I had more or less adapted myself. Mr. Young in this way exacerbated my fears and made a fool of me.
- ↑ In the Middle Ages, learning flowed primarily from Islam into Europe, not the other way around.
- ↑ I had no idea what they taught in the "girls' school". Did the curriculum include: (1) Elementary Look-don't-touch, (2) Intermediate Hard-to-get, and (3) Advanced Alimony? And this might be very useful instruction for those young ladies who have nothing to sell other than their bodies, so they need to get the best price they can for their only asset, similar to jocks.
- ↑ Headline: The Baltimore Sun newspaper, August 7th, 2022. At about 2 AM this morning, when nobody was on the campus, an expensive private school north of the city, St. Paul's School for Boys, was obliterated by a precision high altitude strike of an estimated ten 500 pound GPS guided bombs. The associated school nearby for girls was incinerated with napalm. A communique from a previously unknown guerilla group which calls itself the SPSDAA (St. Pauls School Disaffected Alumni Army), which claimed no responsibility for the attack, said iron bombs were used to take out the boys' school because lacrosse and tackle football athletes are armored with hard shells like cockroaches, and napalm was used on the girl's school because most females bleed each month. The SPSDAA said there would be no further attacks, unless the school was rebuilt, because the attackers' strategic objective had been fully accomplished, with no collateral damage.
- ↑ Anent voting: The limit of one divided by N, as N approaches infinity is zero.
- ↑ I looked up the educational institution that, when I was at StP, was used as best I could tell as a place to send rich kids who had no academic ability or interest so they could say they attended college, and, from their current PR, they look like they are today a Platonic school, or, at a minimum, aiming (to borrow from my citation of Mr. Gentile), to turn "Spaz"'s into young adults who respect books, which is no mean feat. If I had known about it in the 1990's and their PR was the same then as today, maybe I could have got a job teaching there, to our mutual benefit. I have always loved helping decent persons grow.
- ↑ I do not deny there are educational situations in which testing is appropriate, but not paper and pencil kind: If you needed open heart surgery, would you choose (1) a physician who got a perfect score on a pencil and paper test about surgery, or (2) one whom experienced surgeons had observed do skilled operations first on cadavers then on animals and then on humans?
- ↑ In probably my Sophomore year at Yale, I raised, with full professor of Phiosophy John Wild, a similar issue: The existential contradiction between a teacher lecturing about human freedom human freedom and me being a student who was unfree to have to take a final exam in a course. His response was apologetically to say to me that he "meant no harm". Where one person has asymmetrical power over another due to unjust organization of their social surround, the one on top can recognize this is not right and do their best with the situation both are stuck in at least until a Kronstadt rebellion that succeeds. Actuality proves possibility.
- ↑ For anyone who does not "get it", "Rrose Selavy" translates to: erotic pleasure is life. The author was the artist Marcel Duchamp, who transformed a standard issue male urinal, like the ones in the place that was fateful for two of my classmates in the 7th grade at StP, into a million dollar work of art by signing it: "R. Mutt". Upon further reflection, perhaps "R. Mutt" means: "Courage!".
I was never adept at the one-trick-pony English teaches game: "find the hidden meaning the teach already knows in the poem"; I only learned the translation of "Rrose Selavy" by reading the Wikipedia article. Clearly I was not very "bright", was/am I? (There is a hidden meaning in the Crusader triptych which begins the present essay: My father sold house paint to earn a iiving. The Paint can pouring out blood to suffocate everybody is from a Sherwin-Williams paint ad. My father died from liver cancer due to having worked in a lead paint factory at the age when I was going to Yale. Bulldog, bulldog! Bow, wow, wow! Eli Yale, and Katherine Dreyer, too!)
- ↑ Like all non-trivial products of the human spirit, this document has flaws and remains in a continuing process of dialectical (reflective / self-reflective) further development. Relevant questions and thoughts and/or evidence is invited. I (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) would love to give a public presentation anywhere, anytime. firstname.lastname@example.org
- ↑ On students finding the hidden meanings their teachers already know
How will I ever get a chance, dear teach,
to stand on the shoulders of giants,
when you have pushed my neck down in a bog you made for me?
Or was it the giants themselves
whose necks you pushed down?
(18/28 Feb/28 May 21. Mount Kisco)
On students finding the hidden meanings their teachers already know, II
By testing me,
By grading me,
By telling me what to do,
You taught me a lesson:
That you could hurt me.
If there was anything else you might have wanted me to learn,
I was preoccupied studying your core curriculum.
(13 Jan 23. Mount Kisco)
- ↑ Hypothesis: Under more propitious pedagogical conditions, Mr. Gentile migh have been salvagable. He was not mean. He encouraged us students to make little copies of Roman mosaics out of construction paper. He seemed somewhat pathetic, and, as stated elsewhere, on the floor in front of the back seat of his car was a thick pile of homework assignments he probably neve read I thinkk the school got rid of him becaues he was not enthusiastic enough: I do not think he coached any athletic team, which would have been a big black mark on his record (Go team!). Had he been nurtured to nurture students, I think he might have been able to, unlike such as Mr. William Clinton Burriss Young.
Single occupancy male urinal. Amenity necessary for personal modesty and dignity StP did not provide for us students. What was their objective?
| Scarlet letter
worn by varsity jocks. Who knows what they did
in their knotty pine paneled "Monogram Club" man cave behind the study hall room in the attic of the upper school building?