Jaded as I am, I had a most jarring experience in class yesterday. I had just read aloud Guy de Maupassant’s famous 1884 short story, The Necklace, and reached the horrible twist in the last line – when Matilda Loisel realizes that she and her husband have ruined their lives for nothing – an ending which makes me shiver forty years after I first heard my mother telling me the story, and believe it or not, many of the children in the class laughed! They found the wanton ruination of two human lives funny! These were kids in their early teens, too, people who you would think had not lived long enough for their innate intelligence and sympathy to be deadened by too much sordid worldly experience.
All I can say is Jesus Christ… what kind of adults are they going to grow into? People who will laugh to see parents or children being crushed by trucks on the highway, and carry on with life as though nothing very significant has happened?
Mind you, most of these are what these days is called ‘bright’ students, in the sense that they get reasonably good marks in school science and math tests, and (merely extrapolating from so many years of teaching experience) I can confidently predict most of them will be in medical and engineering colleges a few years from now.
Is the world filling up with monsters? Would I want one of those engineers to build a house for me, leave alone ask one of those doctors to look after me in my old age? (do scroll down a bit to the post titled Morality Training for doctors?)
One thing that I am now convinced about: you need to teach people to feel (good feelings, especially, not the brute ones like anger and greed and sloth and avarice and vengeance, which, heaven knows, have never needed to be taught) just as you need to teach math and science. Unfortunately, education worldwide has concentrated maniacally on the latter kind of teaching, to the detriment of the former in the name of ‘progress’ – assuming that people will just somehow learn to become good human beings by themselves, automatically. We are now beginning to reap the whirlwind.