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:: Wednesday, December 17, 2014 ::

George Bailey, Global “Equalizer” 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 11:58 AM

Back in December 2008, in my column, “George Bailey’s Wasted Life,” I did Grinch duty and scored Frank Capra’s 1946 “iconic” movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, for being a cinematic paean to altruism, self-sacrifice, and living for others. While coated in the patina of Americanism, I pointed out that it was a distinctly un-American movie.  I followed that in October 2011 with “Not So Wonderful a Life,” in which I dwelt on other observations I had in the meantime made about the movie and its moral premises.

Some readers complained that while I made valid points about the movie I overlooked the benevolence in it, that it was a movie which made people glow with good will. It made one “feel good.” They, however, neglected my point that emotions, good or bad, are not tools of cognition, and that anyone who “felt good” after seeing IAWL has been conned by an expert.  I recommended Capra’s hectic comedy Arsenic and Old Lace as an antidote.

This week, in the spirit of the season, I contemplated adding a third column on the subject to incorporate further observations, but decided that the horse was dead and that there was no longer a reason to beat it. Then I caught an Internet squib about Bill Gates’ Stanford University commencement address in mid-June among a slew of such addresses.

I immediately thought, “George Bailey in the flesh!”  Knowing that Gates is a committed altruist who has made a career of expiating his “sins” of success and creating unimaginable private wealth, which he is dedicated to dissolving in the worst instance of “giving back,” I looked up that address. And, lo and behold, there was George Bailey’s moral doppelganger and his soul-mate wife, Melinda, reading from prepared remarks to what I can only assume was an adoring audience. It’s likely he got a pinch of satisfaction for having been bestowed an honorary degree from Stanford, just as he probably did when he got an honorary “Doctor of Laws” degree in 2007 from the school he dropped out of, Harvard.

Of course, Gates can do whatever he wishes with his wealth, for whatever reasons. But because he never questioned the secular version of altruism, and had no real sound moral instruction in why he should never have apologized for having amassed a fabulous fortune and begged forgiveness in such an abysmal, pathetic way, that is his fate. And the deliberate, conscious dissolution of his wealth does constitute an apology of a particularly altruist, selfless species.

However, his attitude towards others’ wealth seems to be: I’ve made my pile; you others can take the hindmost. I’ll respect you if you want to make money, but only if it’s to help the poor, the lame, and the halt of the world.

Lost and forgotten in all the sanctimonious back-and-forth about helping the “poor,” the “disadvantaged,” and the “impoverished” is the American middle class. Gates mentions it not.

Aside from all the off-the-shelf banalities in their Stanford commencement speech about optimism, vision, innovation, asking “what you can do for your county – excuse me, for the world – not what your country (or the world) can do for you,” the future, and the pride one should feel for being a “nerd” (at one point they patronized and amused the audience by putting on pairs of “nerdish” glasses), Bill and Melinda Gates cited some repellant examples of what motivates them: the sores of others they seem to enjoy sticking their fingers into and throwing money at. Were there no sores for them to experience, they’d have no “moral” reason to “do good.”  

Bill related his experiences in Soweto, South Africa, Melinda hers in India and Asia. Melinda rubbed elbows with Indian prostitutes. I’m betting she took a long, hot shower every time she communed with disease-ridden “sex workers.”

Bill and Melinda urged the graduates to work hard in their future careers, to expect and be willing to “give back” as they themselves are, and to seek out pockets of misery and poverty. Melinda said, “Let your heart break. It will change what you do with your optimism.”

So here is our appeal to you: As you leave Stanford, take your genius and your optimism and your empathy and go change the world in ways that will make millions of others optimistic as well. You don't have to rush. You have careers to launch, debts to pay, spouses to meet and marry. That's enough for now.

But in the course of your lives, without any plan on your part, you'll come to see suffering that will break your heart.

When it happens, and it will, don't turn away from it; turn toward it.

Work to imbue others with optimism. Live to give others hope. Never mind the taxes and regulations that may make your “optimism” harder to sustain. Let your hearts be broken. Weep, and you will be rewarded.

I’d venture to say this is a scarier sermon than any delivered by Jonathan Edwards, the 18th century pulpit pounder and guarantor of Hell and Damnation no matter how virtuous a life you lived.  The whole of the Gates’s commencement address could be re-titled, “The Selfish In the Hands of an Angry Humanitarian.” (E.g., Edwards wrote, “Simply because it is natural to care for oneself or to think that others may care for them, men should not think themselves safe from God's wrath.”)

Before offering her broken heart advice, Melinda Gates displayed her true epistemological and metaphysical colors (say, rather, disabilities?), by repeating Obama’s “you didn’t build that” mantra. Speaking about what contributes to one’s success, she said:

When I talk with the mothers I meet during my travels, I see that there is no difference at all in what we want for our children. The only difference is our ability to give it to them.

What accounts for that difference? Bill and I talk about this with our kids at the dinner table. Bill worked incredibly hard and took risks and made sacrifices for success. But there is another essential ingredient of success, and that ingredient is luck – absolute and total luck.

When were you born? Who were your parents? Where did you grow up? None of us earned these things. They were given to us.

When we strip away our luck and privilege and consider where we'd be without them, it becomes easier to see someone who's poor and sick and say "that could be me." This is empathy; it tears down barriers and opens up new frontiers for optimism. (Italics mine)

Bill didn’t “build Microsoft”? The only conclusion I can draw from this drivel is that Bill Gates’ success was possible because he had “empathy,” combined with “luck.” If one doesn’t have “empathy,” then one is out of luck. You won’t succeed. And if you do, you must have cheated somehow, and you’ll be a pariah because you didn’t have empathy. Go figure. I can picture Melinda Gates twenty or thirty years hence, resembling that wizened, selfless old crone,  Mother Teresa, the patron witch of altruism. A perfect soul-mate for Bill. Lucky him.

Bill Gates might a Democrat. He might a Republican. Or an “Independent.” It’s difficult to determine which Party commands his loyalty. As can be seen in the linked CampaignMoney.com’s chart of his political contributions going back to 1999, he has divided his campaign contributions almost equally between Democrats and Republicans and “Independents.” Therefore, neither Party can accuse him of favoritism or of not being bipartisan. This is so typical of American businessmen: Betting on Tweedledee and Tweedledum in a pragmatic exercise of ensuring friendly treatment from whichever party may assume control over the economy, finance, and trade.

In his Stanford speech, Gates noted that advances in technology, especially in computer technology, “would make inequality worse.” His goal from the beginning, he claimed, was to “democratize computing.”  (You can take that with a grain of salt.) He didn’t want just “rich kids” and businesses be able to use computers. This is an altruist way of saying he wanted to create a bigger market and make lots of money. At the outset, he wants us to believe, he was a kind of “people’s capitalist” with not a selfish bone in his body.

Gates is obsessed with income “inequality,” and “wealth disparity.” Some economists recommend that capitalism be “reformed” to achieve “social justice.” But this is a non sequitur. As Islam can’t be “reformed” without killing Islam, one can't reform capitalism, because at the end of the reformation, what’s left is no longer “capitalism.” Gates doesn’t want to reform it. He wants to punish it, or rather what we have left of it.

Chris Matthews in his October 15th Fortune article, “Bill Gates’ solution to income inequality,” noted:

It might not come as a surprise to many that Bill Gates, whom Forbes’ magazine ranks as the second wealthiest man in the world, doesn’t agree with the ideas of French economist Thomas Piketty. It’s Piketty, after all, who made a big splash this year with his book Capital in the 21st Century, which argued that it is a fundamental law of capitalism that wealth will grow more concentrated absent destabilizing events like global wars.

Piketty’s solution? A global tax on capital that could help governments better understand how wealth is distributed and stem the tide of inevitably increasing inequality, which Piketty believes is socially destabilizing.

There’s another altruist premise: A global tax will instruct governments on how to devise policies that will preempt the envious and diminish “inequality.” Like most economists today, Piketty isn’t much concerned with how wealth is created, only with how it can be seized and distributed to stave off the envious.
                                                                                                                         
Picketty’s global tax on wealth would be collected by whom? In all the discussions of Picketty’s tax,  I haven’t seen one that identifies the agency which would collect such a tax. The European Union? The IMF? The United Nations? What entity would impose and collect such a tax globally? Further, I’ve always been astonished by the nonchalance with which most economists advocate various systems of legalized theft.

Gates dissents, on the other hand, writes Matthews:

…Gates has already pledged to give away half his fortune over the course of his lifetime, a much larger amount than the 1% or 2% wealth tax, proposed by Piketty, would confiscate. His problem isn’t with the idea that the super wealthy should spread their fortunes around, but rather with Piketty’s mechanism and the incentives it would create….

Gates shares Piketty’s goal of spreading wealth [echoes of Obama’s explanation to Joe the Plumber can be heard here], yet he doesn’t want to discourage the uber wealthy (like Gates) who are taking risks, investing in value-creating businesses, and helping the world through philanthropy. Gates’ solution? Shift the American tax code from one that taxes labor to one that taxes consumption.

 The super rich, you see, have a moral duty to “help the world” and become fulltime philanthropists. If they don’t meet that obligation, then they’re contemptible philistines only interested in “conspicuous consumption.” Strive to “consume” less conspicuously, and you’ll be counted as having had a broken heart and are a good person because you’ve sacrificed a value.

After a gobbledygook fantasy of an explanation of how Gates’ consumption tax would work for an “average” family and help to reduce the federal deficit (!!!), Matthews neglects to mention in it that no controls would stop a government from continuing to be a conspicuously consuming spendthrift. For example, see Betsy McCaughey’s article on Family Security Matters on Cromnibus, the 1,695 page, $1.1 trillion “budget” Congress hurriedly passed last weekend to fund the federal government through September 2015.

Gates, however, while he endorses less “consumption” and wishes to penalize it with a tax, is much more interested in ensuring that the wealth one leaves one’s heirs is boiled down to rice and old shoes with a confiscatory inheritance or “death tax.” William H. Gates, Sr.,  co-authored a sophomorically written piece, “’Death Tax’: What’s in a Name?,” in which he advocates replacing the term “death tax” with simply “estate tax” to make it more palatable. It was Gates Senior (and later  billionaire Warren Buffet) who, early on, together with Melinda, urged Bill Junior to liquidate his wealth as a moral obligation.

Matthews writes:

Such a regime could appeal to both the right and left sides of the political spectrum. For those on the left, who are sometimes uncomfortable with the effects of a culture based around consumption, this tax would discourage such behavior. Meanwhile, a regime that encourages savings and investment would appeal to conservatives.

But for a progressive consumption tax to be truly progressive, there would need to be a hefty estate tax to prevent the rich from simply letting their wealth grow over generations through interest income. But Gates argues this is not a problem, because we have the ability to institute estate taxes, a policy which he is a “big believer” in.

The son, however, is an enthusiastic “globalist-socialist” and endorses not only a death tax, but all kinds of other taxes,  as reported in Cliff Kincaid’s November 2012 AIM article, “Bill Gates Urges Obama to Embrace Global Tax.”

On Thursday, as part of the G20 summit, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, delivered a report on “financing for development” that proposes global taxes on America and other “rich” nations to make the Global Poverty Act a reality.

“I am honored to have been given this important opportunity,” said Gates, founder of Microsoft. “My report will address the financing needed to achieve maximum progress on the Millennium Development Goals, and to make faster progress on development over the next decade.” The report, available on the website of the Gates Foundation, proposes a financial transaction tax (FTT) as well as taxes on tobacco, aviation and bunker fuel, and carbon (energy), by G20 countries and other members of the European Union.

What? No FTT on trading in “carbon credits”? Al Gore must be relieved.

George Bailey, a “community organizer” in his own right,  has come a long way from Bedford Falls.  He continues to “give back” what he never took in the first place.

:: Permalink | 1 Comments ::

 

:: Saturday, December 13, 2014 ::

My Own “Enemies List” 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 9:59 AM


“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Not necessarily. Remember what happened when FDR allied himself with Josef Stalin to defeat Nazi Germany. At war’s end, Stalin gobbled up half of Europe with FDR’s leave. The U.S. was saddled with a costly “cold war” with our former “friend” Soviet Russia for nearly half a century. See Diana West’s path-breaking book, American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character, for details, or here, about how “mainstream” historians deny the truth of West’s thesis. The USSR was never a friend of America.

The proverb suggests that two opposing parties can or should work together against a common enemy. Although it is often described as an Arabic proverb, there is no evidence of such an origin.

But now I can say that the friends of my enemies are without question or a shade of doubt my enemies, as well.

To begin with, every one of them is a liar.

Daniel Greenfield, in his December 12th FrontPage column, “Lying in Post-Truth America,” prefaced his comments with a reprise of Bill Clinton’s lies about Monica Lewinsky, then remarked:

Clinton’s antics set the stage for a current administration which can never be caught in a lie because it’s lying all the time. Obama and his people don’t just lie, they lie about the lies and then they lie about those lies. Bringing them in to testify just clogs the filters with an extra layer of lies.

Invite [Jonathan] Gruber to testify about the time that he admitted that the administration had been lying and the only thing that will happen is more lies being told by a man who is there only because he lied….

Journalists repeatedly dismissed ObamaCare scandals by arguing that no one could have taken Obama’s claims at face value anyway. When Obama promised Americans that they could keep their doctors, the housewife in Topeka, the freelance programmer in San Francisco and the geologist in Tulsa were supposed to be as knowing as the Washington press corps and realize that he didn’t mean it….

Obama doesn’t simply lie. He exists in a truth-free zone. He doesn’t stumble with any construction as clumsy as Kerry’s “I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.” He does not start with truthful facts. His starting point is in an imaginary territory. It ends in an imaginary territory. If the two imaginary territories are different, it scarcely matters because neither place was ever real….

Lying is the faking of reality, of committing fraud by concocting an illusion for others. To the liar, something has GOT to be true, for otherwise the liar hasn’t a claim to anyone else’s attention and without the lie the liar is an empty-handed boob and nobody. Or because the truth will condemn the liar to jail or social ostracism. To the liar, reality must conform to his lies. If it doesn’t, then he will blame it on the Möbius Strip that the liar wishes you also to believe is the nature of existence, that everything is in a Heraclian flux.  That way, neither he nor you can claim any authority about what is a truth or a lie.  

Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Feinstein, and Jonathan Gruber, among others, wanted Obamacare foisted on the country, so they all participated in a lie. Americans are suckers, claimed Gruber, and should never be given an even break. Lies can be told to them because it’s for their own good. But the truth behind the nature of Obamacare wasn’t a lie. He was caught out by his own hubris.

Gruber made the mistake of boasting about it at an obscure conference he thought no one else would ever care to learn about, and went into detail about the machinations of his and his allies’ minds and explained the rationale behind their collective lies. Even in his Congressional testimony his apology for calling the  American voter “stupid” is a lie; his crime makes Richard Nixon, perceived as a lying used car salesman, seem like an artless novice. Bill Clinton beat him hands down. Concerning Gruber, the sound we heard in Congress was his imitation of Porky Pig.

Barack Obama, however, is a congenital liar about everything. He probably even boasts to others that he could give the golf pro Jack Nicklaus a run for his money, and believes it.

If he exists in what Greenfield called a “truth-free” zone, or in an “alternative universe” in which a paper cornucopia of wealth flows from solar panels and Muslim outreach and healthy school lunches and the milk and honey are actually vinegar and rationed Trail Mix, then it is thanks to generations of philosophers, going back to David Hume,  Immanuel Kant and Georg Hegel (or even further back to Plato) who preached that “reality” is not accessible to man. It exists in some other-worldly realm impervious to man’s lying, stunted senses, so, who knows what the truth is?

The truth is what I say it is, asserts the liar, and who is anyone to question my special powers of kenning it. Truth can be “A” and “non-A” at the same time or any combination of “X” and “Z” and “Y” or whatever else I say it is. Let’s pass Obamacare, turn it into an ironclad law, except when the President rewrites it, and then we can see what’s in it.

However, who are my enemies, who pose as my friends yet side with my other enemies?

First and foremost: President Barack H. Obama, our National Community Organizing Expert, enemy of the Constitution, and Liar-in-Chief.

Second: everyone who, with starry-eyed hankerings for the unearned and the redistribution of what they never built, voted for Obama first, and then, after seeing the destruction he wrought on the country, and even in their own lives in the way of Obamacare, cost of living increases, unemployment, scandals, inflation, the increase in the national debt, blatant cronyism, corruption, and foreign policy disasters that will redound repeatedly on America in the future like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, voted for him again in 2012.

Third: his Progressive,  Socialist, and soft-pedaling Communist allies in Congress, in both houses. This includes Nancy Pelosi, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (U.S. Senators for Virginia, my current domicile), Harry Reid, John Boehner, and the whole Rouges’ Gallery of politicians, most of them Democrats or pretend Republicans.

Fourth: the Mainstream Media, Obama’s private NGO cum news dispenser, the lap dog of the White House’s policy of dissimulation and disinformation, and unpaid propaganda bureau. This includes prominent columnists, pundits, apologists for America, and writers and blog sites that project more empathy for the enemy and totalitarians than they do f or the victims of statist and Mideast (read Islamic) savagery.

Fifth: Islam, in the person of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and all of its Hamas-Terrorist affiliations, such as ISNA, ICNA, MSA, and other alphabetic linkages beyond, such as ISIS, the PA, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, and any other Islamic terrorist organizations.

Sixth: all the other Islamic States, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and all the small fry Islamic States. I may as well throw in Turkey. The blitzkrieg of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is comparable to Mohammad’s campaign on the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century to bring the whole region under his and Islam’s thumb.

Seventh: Career race-baiters and “What? Me Worry?” ignoramuses who have a vested interest in racial strife and conflict, and work diligently perpetuate them on the slightest pretext,  regardless of reality, such as Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson.  In his own special category of pulpit-pounding racism, I also name Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan.

Eighth: Conservatives who can’t decide on which side their principles (if any) and convictions (if any) should reside: Freedom, or a status quo as defined by their alleged enemies, Democrats.

Ninth: Billionaires who donated to Obama’s re-election, most of whom donated to his first election.

Tenth: Less-than-billionaires who donated to Obama’s re-election, many of whom donated to his first election.

Eleventh:  Any and all Federal and state regulatory agencies established to regulate trade, human activities, and social relationships, such as the Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, Health and Human Services, the Drug Enforcement Administration, among myriad others.

There are many others that merit my eternal hostility, but I think these eleven ought to suffice for the moment. Then there are the “lone wolf” enemies, such as American book and newspaper publishers, who refused to reproduce the Mohammad cartoons of 2005 and even in a Yale University Press book about The Cartoons That Shook the World lest they “offend” the gentle sensibilities of Muslims and anger them to the point that they would go on murderous rampages and call for the end of freedom of speech.  

And let us not forget the major and “inadvertent” faux pas of Scholastic, Inc., which recently published a children’s book that omitted Israel from a map of the Mideast. Or, given the rising tide of anti-Semitism, was the omission instead an instance of la négligence consciente? Perhaps Wizard Harry Potter, whose exploits are published by Scholastic, whisked by on his broom and with a flick of his magic wand made Israel disappear from the minds of Scholastic’s cartographers. I’m trying to imagine the discredited Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the curriculum of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

That curriculum, however, seems to be shared by most American schools and universities.

All in all, one’s “friends” are not necessarily one’s “friends.” They could be one’s worst enemies.

Moral: Choose your friends wisely. And make sure your enemy knows you are not his friend.

:: Permalink | 3 Comments ::

 

:: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 ::

Montessori Made Easy 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 12:46 AM


Some book debuts are memorable and marvelous to behold, and this is one of them. I almost feel privileged to review Charlotte Cushman’s Montessori: Why It Matters for Your Child’s Success and Happiness, recently published by The Paper Tiger.

Maria Montessori was born on August 31, 1870, in the provincial town of Chiaravalle, Italy, to middle-class, well-educated parents. At the time that Montessori was growing up, Italy held conservative values about women's roles. From a young age, she consistently broke out of those proscribed gender limitations. After the family moved to Rome, when she was 14, Montessori attended classes at a boys' technical institute, where she further developed her aptitude for math and her interest in the sciences—particularly biology.

Facing her father's resistance but armed with her mother's support, Montessori went on to graduate with high honors from the medical school of the University of Rome in 1896. In so doing, Montessori became the first female doctor in Italy.

Montessori displayed the same insatiable appetite for knowledge that she has encouraged her teachers to imbue in their pre-school and kindergarten students. Her premise was that “class” and a child’s external environment did not necessarily determine the contents and actions of his mind, unless he has a passive, as opposed to an active, ambitious, eager mind. (Passivity is also an action of volition, or of choice, but a negative one.) The mentally healthy mind possesses the human attribute of volition, and can develop a willingness and ability to think. This, Cushman, emphasizes, is a natural desire in children. Bright, independent, confident children could hale from any strata of society. Social status is irrelevant.

As a doctor, Montessori chose pediatrics and psychiatry as her specialties. While teaching at her medical-school alma mater, Montessori treated many poor and working-class children who attended the free clinics there. During that time, she observed that intrinsic intelligence was present in children of all socio-economic backgrounds.

Montessori became the director of the Orthophrenic School for developmentally disabled children in 1900. There she began to extensively research early childhood development and education….

Montessori began to conceptualize her own method of applying their educational theories, which she tested through hands-on scientific observation of students at the Orthophrenic School. Montessori found the resulting improvement in students' development remarkable.

When an infant begins to see things – when the blurs and blogs of color that swim in his vision begin to coalesce into identities—what a child needs to know is that these things are real things in a reality that is permanent and stable. Montessori stresses the primacy of existence. Cushman writes:

“Children need to establish a view of the world that is stable, and since the child forms himself from his environment, order is a major component of Montessori classrooms. Everything in the classroom is in order. The classroom as a whole is in order, organized into designated areas, each of which is part of a sequence. The materials on the shelves are in order, and each activity is displayed properly arranged in its container. Concepts are presented in a logical order and there is order in how they are taught. Order is part of the daily routine.”  (p. 5)

Discussing the role of language in a child’s developing and growing mind, Cushman notes:

“Humans are cognitively superior to all other animals because they can reason (and can thus control their environment and their own lives). A person uses mathematics in the process of forming concepts. He forms a concept for a given kind of thing when he has integrated the appropriate number of abstractions from real instances of it, and he then labels that concept with a word, which is a symbol for the concept. Language is a systematic combination of such symbols that arranges concepts in a logical sequence and is, therefore, primarily a tool of cognition.” (p. 40)

Cushman makes this startling observation about how a child begins to learn how to speak:

“The child is sensitive to human speech even before he knows who is speaking. By the time the baby is four months old his eyes are focused on the mouth of the speaker and he can be seen making little motions with his lips as though he were making silent words. At six months the child begins to babble, imitating the sounds of human speech, and by the time he is eight or nine months old, he has uttered every sound in the alphabet of his native language. It is interesting to note that the child does not utter and imitate every sound in his environment, but is drawn towards language.”  (pp. 40-41)

Here are some highlights from Cushman’s opus:

“Creation doesn’t start with…creation. It starts with knowledge, and the primary focus of education in the beginning must be the acquisition of knowledge. Knowledge needs to be presented in an orderly way so that the mind can file information logically and retrieve it reliably; only then can the mind make the novel connections that are the essence of the creative process. Once knowledge and skills have been attained, freedom is necessary for the mind to bring innovations into existence.” (p. 112)

“What, then, is the true aim of the Montessori Method? In a word—independence, and the result is the child’s profound love of his work.” (p. 128)

“Self-esteem entails two interrelated aspects: that one is worthy of living and that one is competent to live. It is the knowledge that one’s mind can grasp the facts of reality, that one can understand the world and then live rationally and morally.” (p. 142)

“Self-esteem, as I discussed earlier, does not come from the approval of others. Children initially develop their self-evaluation from the conclusions that they draw about the world through their experiences. If they think reality is understandable and that they are capable of understanding it, they will have a positive view of themselves; but if they think reality is chaos, that they can’t comprehend it, and that anything goes, they will have a negative view of themselves.” (p. 157)

“In Montessori education the child is taught how to think for himself. He uses concrete objects to experiment with and confirm reality. The Montessori child develops an independent mind because we do not tell him what to think. We allow him to learn independently—on his own—without flooding the room with adults. We also let him learn by interacting with lots of other children.” (p. 196)

In modern education, children (and high school- and college-age adults) are pressured to become “socialized,” to fit into groups, to “go with the flow,” to conform collectivist identities and purposes, to obey and not question. But, Cushman asks:

“Fit into what? The group, the crowd, the gang? Relationships are with individuals, not with unknown collectives. When someone wants to fit in with the unnamed “others,” he puts himself at the mercy of what others think of him. Instead, he should be defining what his standards are for relationships, decide which individuals are worthwhile, and choose his friends accordingly.” (p. 209, Italics mine.)

Cushman advises parents:

“As you consider your options, keep this in mind: education is more than just learning how to add and read. Education is preparing the child for adulthood. When he grows up, he will need to know how to listen and remember what he hears, read and assimilate information, follow a train of logic, and make decisions.” (p. 211)

At the end of Maria Montessori, Cushman re-emphasizes the purpose of the Montessori Method of education:

“The ability to think is essential for man’s survival and happiness. I don’t know of any other educational system other than the Montessori Method that uses a highly specialized, integrated methodology for the specific purpose of teaching a child how to use his mind. Maria Montessori discovered what children are and how they really learn. And she recognized that in order to reason, it takes much more than just an accumulation of facts. The Montessori Method is a realistic approach to learning based on the true nature of the child. And it works.” (p. 222)

Forty illustrations of children at work – never at play – in a Montessori classroom adorn this important volume. Some children are smiling while performing a chore or a task. Others are frowning in thought while engaged in some activity. But a frown is a good sign. Ayn Rand, to whom Cushman has dedicated her book, noted in her novel, The Fountainhead:

“…. Man's first frown is the first touch of God on his forehead. The touch of thought.”

Montessori: Why It Matters for Your Child’s Success and Happiness, by Charlotte Cushman. Kerhonkson, NY: The Paper Tiger. 253 pp. Illustrated.

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