Was John Locke all Dungeons-and-Dragons during a time when there were actual dungeons? Check it:
For example, what if an ivory-ball were made like that of the royal-oak lottery, with thirty two sides, or one rather of twenty four or twenty five sides; and upon several of those sides pasted on an A, upon several others B, on others C, and on others D? I would have you begin with but these four letters, or perhaps only two at first; and when he is perfect in them, then add another; and so on till each side having one letter, there be on it the whole alphabet. This I would have others play with before him, it being as good a sort of play to lay a stake who shall first throw an A or B, as who upon dice shall throw six or seven.Unfortunately, this is all in the service of teaching people how to read. But, to be sunny and optimistic, once a child learns to read, can D-and-D be far behind? (Seriously, can it? I've never played the game.)
But we're not here to talk about some crazy system that claims to simulate existence -- we're here to talk about philosophy. Specifically, we're here to talk about "Some Thoughts Concerning Education," the whole of which is summarized here. You may know this work already because you wrote a paper about it back in college. It's pretty breezy in style for 1693, it seems eminently paperable. I never encountered it, myself; I didn't read any philosophy, as I believe I have amply demonstrated during the course of this year. But, god, college. Remember that time we went to that party and drank a lot of beer? And then somebody had a crush on somebody else and talked a lot about it. And some of our friends didn't know what to do with their liberal arts education, so they went to law school. I wonder what happened to them? And also, we wrote a paper on John Locke, or someone we knew did, or perhaps the paper was on "Self-Portrait In A Convex Mirror," and we were so high when we wrote it. Good times, good times.
Maybe a higher (heh heh) education experience like the above is Locke's fault; he seems awfully permissive by today's working-for-the-clampdown standards:
Thus children may be cozen’d into a knowledge of the letters; be taught to read, without perceiving it to be any thing but a sport, and play themselves into that which others are whipp’d for. Children should not have any thing like work, or serious, laid on them; neither their minds, nor bodies will bear it. It injures their healths; and their being forced and tied down to their books in an age at enmity with all such restraint, has, I doubt not, been the reason, why a great many have hated books and learning all their lives after."Children should not have any thing like work laid on them?" How in the hell are they going to be ready for the global economy? Does life in the global economy seem fun to anyone? Clearly not. So why teach kids that life is fun? Locke obviously doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. What are schools for, if not to be a dumping ground for all our anxieties?
But I digress in the manner of a parent of school-age children. And, as a middle-aged parent of school-age children, I find myself somewhat tired of an evening (I'll say one thing for teen mothers -- I bet they have more energy than I do), so I will touch on two more things and then watch last night's Daily Show on Tivo.
Thing 1. Locke on the Portugese:
...’tis so much a fashion and emulation amongst their children, to learn to read and write, that they cannot hinder them from it: they will learn it one from another, and are as intent on it, as if it were forbidden them."As if it were forbidden them." I still think the surest way for atheists to spread skepticism about prayer to God is to require the schools to compel it. It only looks good when you raise a big stink about it.
Thing 2. Locke wants everyone to learn shorthand. I think we have missed out on this hint; it would be useful to me. Ditto typing. I was required to take typing in high school, while I don't really remember the plot of The Great Gatsby, I can find the home keys drunk. Earlier this year, I advocated for the abolition of the teaching of literature to minors, and its replacement with the study of cookery. Maybe that's in this treatise too -- if you wrote a paper on it, could you let me know?