Ayn Rand on Homeschooling



While exploring a bit of American literature last year, I stumbled onto a topic that many folks today would call “homeschooling.” I was surprised by the author who provided the occasion: it was Paul Ryan’s preferred sage, the extravagant Ayn Rand.

I have inferred from Jennifer Burns’ outstanding autobiographical work on Rand (Goddess of the Market, Oxford, 2009) that Rand’s cultish authoritarianism, her drugs, her infidelity, and her own irrational rage—while protesting anti-rationality—have not entirely eclipsed  her greatness, and her legacy they never could (you might recall Ted Turner’s 248 billboards asking, “who is John Galt ?”).  Perhaps some social conservatives will consider the truth of this suggestion after venturing the following passage from Atlas Shrugged (page 785 in my Plume by Penguin, 1999):

She often saw them wandering down the trails of the valley—two fearless beings, aged seven and four.  They seemed to face life as she had faced it.  They did not have the look she had seen in the children of the outer world—a look of fear, half-secretive, half-sneering, the look of a child’s defense against an adult, the look of a being in the process of discovering that he is hearing lies and of learning to feel hatred.  The two boys had the open, joyous, friendly confidence of kittens who do not expect to get hurt, they had an innocently natural, non-boastful sense of their own value and as innocent a trust in any stranger’s ability to recognize, they had the eager curiosity that would venture anywhere with the certainty that life held nothing unworthy of or closed to discovery, and they looked as if, should they encounter malevolence, they would reject it contemptuously, not as dangerous, but as stupid, they would not accept it in bruised resignation as the law of existence.

“They represent my particular career, Miss Taggart,” said the young mother. . . . “They’re the profession I’ve chosen to practice, which, in spite of all the guff about motherhood, one can’t practice successfully in the outer world. . . . I came here, not merely for the sake of my husband’s profession, but for the sake of my own.  I came here in order to bring up my sons as human beings.  I would not surrender them to the educational systems devised to stunt a child’s brain, to chaos with which he’s unable to deal, and thus reduce him to a state of chronic terror.  You marvel at the difference between my children and those outside, Miss Taggart?  Yet the cause is so simple.  The cause is that here, in Galt’s Gulch, there’s no person who would not consider it monstrous ever to confront a child with the slightest suggestion of the irrational.”

 

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An Email From An Old Friend – Who Now Sees Me As Human



This is a wonderful and insightful note from one of my original opponents during the days of Pooh’s Think, Part 1. (For contrast, also note the recent comments  from a current Kirker.)

Michael,

I’m not sure if you remember who I am, but I left several comments on Doug Wilson’s blog when the whole Saint Peter thing was going down, defending Saint Peter’s session and (often personally) attacking you. As an ex-member of Saint Peter (you know the drill: started reading Eastern Orthodox writers, started discussing the possible validity of Orthodoxy with friends of mine in the church including Laurence Windham, eventually left, was shunned and “excommunicated” by those whom I considered dear friends), I wanted to apologize for my ignorance and insensitivity towards you and your views. It’s easy to attack someone when you’ve never been in their position. Frank Schaeffer was right when he said, “The only answer to who you are is, ‘When?’” Now that I have gone through an experience comparable to yours, I wish I had listened to some of your comments and insights. The pain my wife and I went through was considerable (it nearly destroyed our marriage) and it was astonishing to see people that we thought we would be friends with forever abandon us overnight. The most painful for me was Laurence’s public denouncements (both of me and of Orthodoxy), which were so ill-informed as to be regarded stupid. He and I were astonishingly close for many years. Being, as a Saint Peter member once described it, “viewed as two faces of one body,” and having him lash out the way he did was a blindside to say the least. A big one.

So, you were right and I was wrong. But you knew that already. And, to be honest, that isn’t what this email is about. I ought to have empathized with your position rather than springing to the blind defense of those who, in the scheme of things, didn’t need defending. Regardless of what I thought, I should have regarded you as a fellow human being rather than disregarding you as the abstract proposition of, “These guys who I love are douche-bags.” But, hindsight, 20/20, clarity, and all that. My comments toward you were belittling. For that I ask your forgiveness.

Ultimately, I don’t blame these guys. I believe that they think what they did (and are doing) is right, and they did it because of that conviction. I don’t believe there was any intentional malice (though what was done was malicious). There’s no bitterness here. However, there is a deep hurt which I don’t anticipate will be resolved any time soon. Thanks for your work.

On a radically different note I was wondering about the Bayly post you made a couple days ago. You had mentioned that you tried to Google some of the quotes that Bayly used from the article concerning Calvin College and homosexuality and were unable to find results. I’m not sure if Bayly updated his post due to your comments, but I was able to find the article quickly using Google. I’m not defending him in any respect (one of them wears a bow-tie, for heaven’s sake — the very definition of douche-bag), but was just asking for the sake of clarification. In case you haven’t found the link to the article it’s from Christianity Today and can be found here.

Thanks again for your work. Knock out that book. Looking forward to reading it.

Cheers and all the best,
Matt Clement

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