13 October 2023

Two brief essays on education

Good parents
In order to be a socially approved parent it is necessary not to ‘push’ your child. There is a social myth to the effect that great harm (of a quite unspecified kind) can be done by ‘pushing’ children.
   There is no corresponding myth about any harm that can be done by frustrating children; in fact, of course, ‘frustrating’ a child is not a possible concept. Even if it were ever admitted that a child had not been given opportunities for developing its abilities, this cannot possibly have done them any harm. This follows from the general principle that no social action towards an individual has any harmful consequences.

Once upon a time a headmistress said of me, ‘It will be good for her not to be treated as an exception.’ I found it very difficult to understand how she could even imagine that she honestly meant something by this, let alone something benevolent, since the sentence seemed to me to have the status of ‘It will be good for this horse to be treated as a dog’. The use of the word ‘good’ in particular eluded me, until I reflected that there was in existence an expression ‘The only good Injun is a dead Injun’, and no doubt she meant something like that.

Taken from: The Corpse and the Kingdom.