From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
There is little pleasure to be had watching 'Question Time' or listening to the radio equivalent 'Any Questions'. Not only must one hear the same old tired clichés from the exchangeable party clones, but one must confront the reality that a large proportion of the public, especially of the politically-engaged public, are fools.
Occasionally they allow Peter Hitchens on, and it becomes watchable, although the two problems mentioned above remain. During his last appearance, we were forced to put up with one of those awful Labour women. I will not trouble myself to check her name but I will note that early in the programme she paraded herself as the product of a one-parent, council estate upbringing, but neglected to mention that her father was married to her mother for the first seven years of her life and a very highly-placed UN official and Cambridge professor, so she's hardly the average denizen of the underclass. In the clip below she gained my ire for her strawman attack on 'learning the names of the kings and queens of England'. (Also you will hear Greg Dyke saying what I criticised below).
Examining her words, no one is saying that learning the names of the kings and queens of England is 'the most important thing'. So, to say this, it is a strawman. However, she asserts that history is important for us to know 'why we are where we are'. Sure enough, it is not essential to be able to recite the list from William I to Elizabeth II, but it doesn't harm you to do so, and it gives a foundation upon which more comprehensive knowledge can be built. It's like hammering in a row of pegs, upon which you can hang the knowledge, that would otherwise remain in a non-descript pile.
If my education consisted only of what I had learned at school, I'd be ignorant indeed, and I can't think of any poem which I was taught (although I can tell you which prepositions take the accusative and which take the dative in German, thanks to Herr Alsop), but my reason for writing is in defence of learning by heart, or as it is put by 'progressives' 'learning by rote', a phrase fashioned, I suppose, to sound unpleasant and oppressive.
These 'progressives' are not consistent. If they were, surely they would attack that most fundamental thing learned 'by rote'; the alphabet. What nonsense, they should say, this alphabet! Why is J before K? Why is T after S? Why should we chain down these young minds to such a system? Let them be free to make up their own alphabet, let them put the letters in whatever order they choose, and invent new letters and sounds! Burn the old books! We shall have new books, better books!
Why do the 'progressives' not attack the alphabet? Because if they did so, if they were for once consistent, they would expose themselves and their poisonous ideology to even the most dull-witted, as ludicrously, monstrously wrong.
The great utility of the alphabet cannot be denied, notwithstanding the fact that no one knows, at least I know not, why J comes before K and T after S. The 'progressives' attack learning by heart because they don't want educated people, they want slaves, incapable of thinking for themselves, and wholly deracinated. The 'progressives' not want people to learn what previous generations learned, because if they did, they may understand concepts like independence, and standing on one's own two feet, and then they wouldn't be the knock-kneed cowards, forever holding out a begging bowl to the loving government.
The human mind has incredible capacity. The more one learns, the more one is capable of learning, or this is how it seems to me. There may be some ultimate limit, but I have not reached it, and feel sure I could live one hundred years and be no closer.