Genres: Christian Fiction
Our Sunday School class is reading The Screwtape Letters and discussing it each Sunday. We joined the church well after they began and have missed most of the book as they discuss a different letter each week. Next week is the last one at Letter 31 and we’ve discussed that we might not make a Sunday of the last bit added to the book entitled Screwtape Proposes a Toast as it may be too political. Yet reading it, I just want to scream, SEE SEE SEE WHAT HE KNEW back in 1960!!! I just had to share a couple paragraphs… I have not read the entirety of The Screwtape Letters but have a copy, plan to read it and suggest it for others.
FYI to put the writing into perspective if you are unaware, Screwtape is an experienced devil. He is giving a graduation speech to new devils and the beginning of their demonic career before they venture out to become tempters to achieve and secure damnation of individuals of the human race.
… “In that promising land the spirit of I’m as good as you has already become something more than a generally social influence. It begins to work itself into their educational system. How far its operations there have gone at the present moment, I would not like to say with certainty. Nor does it matter. One you have grasped the tendency, you can easily predict its future developments; especially as we ourselves will play our part in the developing. The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be ‘undemocratic’. These differences between the pupils–for the are obviously and nakedly individual differences–must be disguised. This can be done on various levels. At universities, examinations must be framed so that nearly all the students get good marks. Entrance examinations must be framed so that all, or nearly all, citizens can go to universities, whether they have any power (or wish) to profit by higher education or not. At schools, the children who are too stupid or lazy to learn languages and mathematics and elementary science can be set to doing the things that children used to do in their spare time. Let them, for example, make mud-pies and call it modelling. But all the time there must be not faintest hint that they are inferior to the children who are at work. Whatever nonsense they are engaged in must have–I believe the English already use the phrase–‘parity of esteem’. An even more drastic scheme is not impossible. Children who are fit to proceed to a higher class may be artificially kept back, because the others would get a trauma–Beelzebub, what a useful word!–by left behind. The bright pupil thus remains democratically fettered to his own age-group throughout his school career, and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coaeval’s attempts to spell out A CAT SAT ON THE MAT.
In a word, we may reasonably hope for the virtual abolition of education when I’m as good as you has fully had its way. All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will vanish. The few who might want to learn will be prevented; who are they to overtop their fellows? And anyway the teachers–or should I say, nurses?–will be far too busy reassuring the dunces and patting them on the back to waste any time on real teaching. We shall no longer have to plan and toil to spread imperturbable conceit and incurable ignorance among men. The little vermin themselves will do it for us.
Of course this would not follow unless all education became state education. But it will. That is part of the same movement. Penal taxes, designed for that purpose, are liquidating the Middle Class, the class who were prepared to save and spend and make sacrifices in order to have their children privately educated. The removal of this class, besides linking up with the abolition of education, is, fortunately, an inevitable effect of the spirit that says I’m as good as you. This was, after all, the social group which gave to the humans the overwhelming majority of their scientists, physicians, philosophers, theologians, poets, artists, composers, architects, jurists, and administrators. If ever there was a bunch of tall stalks that needed their tops knocked off, it was surely they.”…
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis pp. 203-205