Posts Tagged ‘heroes’

We all of us have our heroes.   But, more than that, each of us has certain personal favourites ; men and women who really live in our memories, and not as abstractions under a category somewhere.  From my own disordered childhood I can name several.  I have already written a bit about Mr & Mrs Adams and Uncle Jack ; both towering figures whose heads stand above the mists of time.  I have many heroes I knew personally, some old, some young ; and heroes I knew only from the pages of books but who are lively nevertheless.

If education is to be seen properly, it must be understood as the passing-on of the culture from which the child derives its intellectual life.  And this means, to cut a long story short, the passing-on of the lives of heroes ; for culture is not a thing that ‘happens’ ; rather it is a thing that has sprung from the minds of men and women down the ages.  And, out of the multitude of ideas that spring from human minds, what make culture is the enduring ideas ; the ideas of value.  Ideas that can be put to practical use so as to make the world a better place.

Thus it is that our list of heroes contains not just Perseus and Theseus, not just Moses and David, not just Alexander and Caesar, not just Alfred and Victoria.  Our list must also include Socrates and Aquinas, Pythagoras and Newton, Chaucer and Shakespeare, and Bach and Beethoven.

Heroes make manifest the seeds of greatness.  Whether it was only Time and Chance which made the manifestation possible, or whether it was a rare genius, is not a matter which need concern us here.  What matters is that those seeds of greatness are within each of us.  Or so Thomas Gray thought.  And I think he was right :

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear :
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Now I know that modern educationalists, teachers and politicians find the idea of heroism abhorrent (unless such heroism is of a purely utilitarian value or unless it serves a particular political purpose) ; but, if we value our freedoms, we must resist the blandishments of the ‘social engineers’ who desire the destruction of our culture.  If we value our freedoms we must pass on to our children the culture of real heroism and heroes – and not omitting Gray’s ploughmen.


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