A comment regarding education I once made. I wonder if too much perspective is necessary at this late date for its true understanding.
I’m afraid the traditionalists are what is needed–not the ones of which you write, however–those who once taught by means of illuminating real books rather than textbooks–which contain little more than survey material.
Although, to the matter of textbooks: I came into possession of a now 130 year old “Appleton’s” designed for forth year students–who would be some 9 years of age. It was, in fact a survey work, just as any modern composition text might be. (Such things were devised to allow less qualified people to teach–frontier situations, for example, very well intended) However it is more sophisticated, and demanded more thought in follow-up questions and proposed projects and assignments than did a similar book I have which was published in the mid 1980ies. This more modern textbook was designed to teach college freshman–so they would be some TEN years older than those who had learned from the old Appleton’s! I am not exaggerating as I write this. Regarding the older textbook, the reading selections therein were much more demanding, the questions afterwards were similar, but required much more thoughtfulness and much greater understanding.
I shudder to think what such a book would look like today. I did have an experience with such a book in, I believe it was, 1998, and the degradation even from the 1980ies book was severe. It even had little cartoon drawings interspersed throughout in order to keep the college sophomores’ attention. The sophistication of the reading selections was of a character far inferior to its 1980 counterpart and, of course, was dwarfed by the Appleton’s to an unbelievable degree.
I am not a teacher; however I do know two excellent ones who reluctantly left the field and have gone on to private teaching. We have spoken much about such things, and they would, no doubt tell you the same as I.
What, I wonder, would the scholars writing for Appleton’s 130 years ago think if they knew how well they had succeeded in the long term in the way of enabling the unqualified to teach?