Nov. 28, 2014

quotes from a great writer

In the past, I have tried to share my ideas of practical ways to solve some of the problems facing our country and the world. Sometimes it is better to reflect on what others have said. The following is an excerpt from a book written by a 23 year old B-17 bomber pilot during the height of bombing campaigns over Germany. These words from "Seranade to the Big Bird" by Lt. Bert Stiles are very profound, especially when one realizes they were written 70 years ago. Here are his thoughts about the importance of education written during lulls between combat missions. I highly recommend the entire,too short, book be added to everyone's reading list.

"... In the end it comes down to what should an education really do?...A few barrels of thought, or a few car loads, liberally distributed among all the people, might open up the world for some sunny weather... An education should try to teach how to think alright, and failing in that, should at least teach him a little humility, and try to get him to open his mind, and keep him cagey about what he takes in, and keep him ever reminded that there are many people of all sorts of blood strains and color phases, all essentially pretty much like him.  It should teach him that he is part of mankind..." 

"An education should give a man the facts about his world...straight.  It should tell the little American kids there aren't many bathrooms in Sinkiang, and not enough toothbrushes in Turkey, and not enough democratic governments in Chicago or Jersey City or the District of Columbia, or any city in any district for that matter.

That education should include just as much information about the world as possible, how people live and where, and what they disagreed over in the past, and why they're going to have to get in close in the future, or there won't be any future. 

An education should give a person some idea of how a society functions, through the dreams and laws and practices and theories and economics.  The idea should be spread around that economics is just a hell of a name for the way people live together.  People have to work, and the study of what they do, and how they do it and why, is the study of economics, and it includes just about everything done by mankind, to mankind, for mankind. 

An education should include a pretty complex mathematical and scientific background, as illuminating and extensive as possible, the best that good teaching and imaginative text writing can dream up, plus a lot of movies, things like Disney's evolution sequence in 'Fantasia'.   The math shouldn't stop in the 6th grade or the 8th or the 12th.  It should go all the way through, because it keeps the brain clicking over.  It is an antedote for lazy thinking. You either think in a math class or you wash out. 

For the other side of it, the literature and the arts and the languages, they should give you a shot at the best there is, and not care too much if it doesn't work at first.  They should find teachers that are in love with their stuff,...and open the doors for those who cannot see very well at first."

"Most everyone wants to know something at sometime in his life probably.  The desire to learn, the desire to see and find out is deep in a great many people, but it gets knocked out early in most, or wrapped up in the white paper of a diploma, or a little more securely in the sheepskin of a degree.   

Intellectual curiosity is more or less dormant in most people, but a good teacher can give it a shot in the arm, just by being a good teacher, and giving the curious one something to work with.

Education is a lifetime affair, and should be, and could be, and must be a whole lot more so..."

"Maybe all education has to be built around two words... Truth...Justice...and maybe if it was, after a long slow time some sort of half way decent world could be worked out.

Maybe there ought to be some more phrases like, "Take it easy" and "Step back and laugh at it sometimes" to build around to, so the somber bright-eyed ones don't throw in the blue laws or come up with something like National Socialism."

"If there was only some way to have the most respected men in the world stand up once a month and tell all the people that they are just people, and there is such a hell of a lot to do and learn, that thinking that you are wise is just about the quickest way to prevent anything good being done and the easiest way to kill off any hope and desire for change."

                                                                             Lt. Bert Stiles, 1944