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October 29, 2005
Vol. V, No. 22

"Education Perspiration"
Aristotle said, "All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth."

As a nation, we spend millions of dollars every year researching how to teach our kids better. Meanwhile, the educational situation in America continues to deteriorate:

"Students Show Almost No Gains in Reading"

I think we should stop the research right away. It seems to be making our kids dumber or at least worse at taking tests. One might even draw the conclusion that the powers that be aren't interested in improving the intellect of the people, especially since the solution couldn't be more simple:

Step 1: Teach kids to read.
Step 2: Support their reading efforts.

We take Step 1 but then offer kids a steady diet of TV, video games, and substandard music and movies. Parents have to have strict controls on TV, videogames and computers, both content and access. Teachers and schools have to constantly monitor for electronic devices, gameboys, and, in lower grades, Pokemon cards, distractions that have been burned into the psyches of kids with multi-million dollar marketing campaigns. To protect children properly, you have to stand up to a constant barrage of corporate forces.

We live in a society where the solution to every problem seems to be to go shopping. Why does Materialism feel so good? Because you pay your money and receive something in return, something you can hold in your two hands. Then, when it breaks or you grow out of it, you throw it away and buy a better one. When you upgrade the things in your life, it actually feels like you're getting somewhere.

I think people prefer materialism because most of life's big questions don't really have answers. Ask any philosopher. In olden times, people were educated to deal with these philosophical dilemmas. They knew and understood that there were holes in their lives that they couldn't do anything about as opposed to uneducated people like us who have a dissatisfaction with life but can't quite put their finger on why. Materialism fills those holes nicely. So the powers that be deprive the people of an education and replace it with materialism and, worse, consumerism.

They knew 300 years ago in Bach's Germany how to educate. Sure, Bach was a genius, but more importantly, he was the product of a school system and society that valued intellect. I have posted an excellent article to the Articles Library (see below) that offers yet another perspective on Bach, that of scholar. By exploring the books that he read and the books he likely read, the writer creates a picture of Bach that greatly enlarged my understanding of our Hero.

Bach obviously went further than the typical Lutheran of his day in pursuing a deep intellectual exploration of God and life, further than you might suspect, as the article points out. Bach's interests were so wide-ranging that one wonders when he had time for music. For the first time, I realized that Bach wasn't just a musical genius, he was a genius, period, who applied himself to music. The depth of his musical accomplishments had at least as much to do, if not more, with the depth of his intellect as with the depth of his musical talent.

We can be glad Bach wasn't born today; he might be left behind. Who knows how many Bachs have gone undiscovered, simply because our expectations of ourselves just aren't high enough? Read the article!

Click this link to read comments and offer your own:

If the universe is in a musical key, what key do you think it is in?

Updated Pages
Composition Free Exchange:
Added is the first composition by community member Roberto Spadoni.

Articles Library:
Added is "Johann Sebastian Bach: Readings and the Spirit" by Ramón Andrés, Goldberg Magazine, Jun 05-Aug 05. "Johann Sebastian Bach's greatness is not restricted to music, in that his achievements rank him as one of the giants of Western culture. As a contemporary of Newton, Leibniz, Vico and Montesquieu, he lived in a Europe undergoing crucial change, a splitting away from the 'old' towards a 'new' world order. His personal outlook is important in understanding this progress towards a new ideology, which in his case allowed him to develop a different approach to music. Anton Webern showed discerning judgement when he maintained that "everything begins and ends" with Bach, and that he had set music upon a path until then unknown."

RAMPAGE FLASHBACK (It was four years ago today, about)
"What's Mine Is Yours" – October 19, 2001
"In my ongoing effort to make more community-centered, I have renamed the 'Bach Stories' page to 'Your Stories.' This page will now be expanded beyond Bach-related experiences to include, among other things, stories of how you found your way to the pipe organ. Each of you has an interesting story to tell and it's a great way to get to know each other." Click the following link for more:

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO..."Fush Yu Mang" by Smash Mouth. This CD isn't for everyone. It's loud, brash even and fast. The only other contemporary group I can think of to compare them to is Barenaked Ladies. Going back further, they remind me of the English Beat but with a sense of humor. A lot of funny lyrics. The music blends many styles. Fun to listen to without much effort. Click the link below for more information on this CD:
Click this link to see all selections in Dan's CD Club:

WHAT I'M READING..."The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams. I don't know why it's taken me so long to finally get around to reading this book. I think I may have avoided it as it's one of those cult classics that people can get sort of over-zealous about. Actually, I'm finding it quite accessible and fun. It seems very derivative of Kurt Vonnegut's work but since Vonnegut could never live long enough to write enough to satisfy his fans, Adams' efforts are more than welcome. Click the link below for more information on this book:
Click this link to see all selections in Dan's Book Club:

WHAT I'M WATCHING..."Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)" Starring: Cary Grant. I hadn't seen this movie in a long time. I had forgotten that it was a Halloween movie. It's thoroughly entertaining and Cary Grant is hilarious. What a face! Click the link below for more information on this DVD:
Click this link to see all selections in Dan's DVD Club:


Have a spooky Halloween!

Dan Long

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