Homeschoolers under attack by officials conducting unannounced visits

Image: Homeschoolers under attack by officials conducting unannounced visits

Source: NaturalNews.com
Thomas Dishaw
March 13, 2017

School officials in Paris, KY are attempting to overstep their boundaries by conducting unannounced visits to homeschooling families. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), these visits are a clear violation of a state-wide agreement that was implemented to protect a family’s constitutional right to privacy.

The school officials claim they are only there to help the parents, but part of their plan to help involves demanding information from parents about attendance records and curriculum. They have even asked to meet the children to question them in some instances. One home school parent, Jenny Griffith, who received one of these visits said “I got the impression that district staff could become more difficult if I didn’t cooperate in answering their questions or bring out my child to meet them. I tried to handle the situation as civilly as possible, without adding any threat to them.” The officials also told her that the district intends on visiting every homeschooling family three times a year.

After being alerted of these visits, the HSLDA quickly got involved and warned parents of this threat to their fourth amendment rights. On the HSLDA website, they spell out for their members what their rights are and how they should handle the situation. According to Kentucky laws, a homeschool program operates as a private school. While private schools are required to keep attendance and scholarship records (i.e. report cards) in the same manner as the local public school, homeschooling parents do not need to open their homes and present these documents simply because a school official comes knocking

TJ Schmidt, a contact attorney for Kentucky through the HSLDA, also said that unless school officials receive some report or have some evidence that the parents are not educating their children, no further inquiry should be made. This agreement, known as the Best Practices Document, has been in place for more than 20 years. Schmidt also assured families that he and Cindy West, a local CHEK representative and veteran homeschooling mom in Bourbon County, have contacted the Paris Independent School District and are objecting to the visits on behalf of the parents. They expect the visits to cease but promise to monitor the situation. (RELATED: Get all the news Google is trying to hide at Censored.news.)

This is not the first time that the HSLDA has had to step in when dealing with a Kentucky school district. In 2015 homeschooling families in Gallatin County, KY received a packet from Roxann Booth, the director of pupil personnel, letting them know county officials would visit the home of every homeschool program through the coming school year. The packet also contained forms that requested detailed information not required by state law.

When the HSLDA was alerted about this violation Schmidt wrote a letter to Ms. Booth on behalf of the families informing her that the information requested went well beyond what is required under Kentucky law. And because home visits would violate each homeschooling individual’s privacy rights the HSLDA would legally challenge any attempt to carry out these visits. Within two weeks, every homeschooling family received a follow-up letter from Ms. Booth apologizing for the demands for additional information and the challenge to the legitimacy of their homeschool programs.

Public schools do not want any challenge to their plans to turn all of our children into politically correct social justice warriors with no ability to think for themselves. As we see from these examples, they know very well where the lines are but are more than willing to cross them until someone is brave enough to stand up and tell them that they refuse to conform.

Read More At: NaturalNews.com

Sources:

HSLDA.org

HSLDA.org

Offthegridnews.com

Dialectical Thinking – Zeno, Socrates, Kant, Marx by Tommi Juhani Hanjijarvi Ph.D.

DLT
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 10, 2017

This particular book is a great foray for those beginning to delve into dialectics.

In Dialectical Thinking – Zeno, Socrates, Kant, Marx by Tommi Juhani Hanjijarvi Ph.D., the author seeks to show how valuable dialectical thinking is as he examines the minds of former dialecticians.

To accomplish this, Hanjijarvi sifts through critical data points spoken by the likes of Socrates, Kant, Zeno and Marx.  The author does make it a point to supplant additional data and couple it to specific dialectics discussed when the need arises.

For instance, while analyzing Marx’s foray into dialectics, the author delves into information brought about by Engel, Bernstein, Lenin and such.

As the author makes clear, dialectics have extensive uses.  More importantly, as the author argues “Dialectics are always about the dynamics of the self.”

Being someone who is delving into formal dialectics for the first time, it was quite mentally invigorating seeing the different dialectics employed by the great dialecticians.  Moreover, it was also interesting to note where some of their ruminations dovetailed and what paths it led them on.  That said, there were times that the text demanded a bit more from the readers as its complexity increased some.  Still, what the book offers is plenty even if it might be intricate at certain junctures.

These days, the benefit of thinking from opposite spectrums, as dialecticians do and this book showcases, would be a great skillset for individuals to learn.  Rarely do people put themselves on both sides of an equation; people usually end up just simply fostering their points of views without taking the other person’s view into consideration.  For instance, the mainstream media is the greatest purveyor of this and shuns anybody who wishes to think outside the box or question anything that is passed off as fact.  And if they show two sides to a coin, it’s always to stoke the flames of the divide and conquer left right paradigm that we see manifesting in countless forms.

Of course, in reality, there are many sides to countless issues.  This reason is why this type of book is vital, since it helps lay a solid foundation as an introductory volume into the discipline of dialectics.

Thinking unilaterally about incisive issues won’t help people think critically, nor will it help people to think outside the box.  Predictably, this prevents individuals from grasping crucial issues at their core.

For those reasons, and many others, this book is definitely to be considered for the inquiring individual.  In fact, am even going to suggest this book to some friends for homeschooling.  Look forward to reading more books like this.

As an introduction to the dialectical thinking employed by some of the greatest dialecticians, this book carries out its premise rather well.

_________________________________________________________
This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.

_________________________________________________________
Suggested resources reviewed below for those seeking ideas to self-teach and become autodidacts:

Socratic Logic V3.1 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren
Philosophy 101 – An Introduction To Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Complete Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking [2nd Ed.] by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston
The Imaginative Argument – A Practical Manifesto For Writers by Frank L. Cioffi

The following books reviewed below cover the disturbing issues within the public schooling system:

Rotten To The Common Core by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.& Gary Lawrence
Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
A Different Kind Of Teacher – Solving The Crisis Of American Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
Weapons Of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto
Drilling Through The Core, by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors

February Book Haul 2017

February Book Haul.jpg
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 5, 2017

January’s Book haul opened the year up with some portentous books, and February continued that pattern to boot.

Without further ado, let’s begin:

Philosophy Of Tolkien: The Worldview Of Lord Of The Rings by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.

Having been reading quite a bit of Kreeft’s work in the last 6 months, it was intriguing to see him have a book which show insights on Lord Of The Rings.  The review of this is coming soon.

Summerhill School: A New View Of Childhood by A.S. Neil

Summerhill is a school that strove to allow children the ability to make choices in school in nigh everything that affects them, thus allowing them the option to be democratic in the very thing that will form the foundation for their life: education.  It’s an intriguing read, and if you are interested to read more about it check the review here.

On The Shoulder Of Hobbits: The Road To Virtue With Tolkien & Lewis by Louis Markos

This book, like The Philosophy of Tolkien, is part of my recent binge on all-things Tolkien, and it was quite the book.  Markos does an exemplary job of giving salient examples of virtues which are sprinkled throughout the works of Tolkien & Lewis, and does so in cogent fashion.  Review of this coming soon, too.

Making Choices, Practical Wisdom For Every Moral Decision by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.

The topic of morality doesn’t get enough attention, and having never taken a course on morality, nor done any research on it, thought it prudent to see what gems of wisdom one could glean from such a book like this.

Confessions Of A Reformed Southern Belle – A Poet’s Collection Of Love, Loss & Renewal by
Tosha Michelle

Am about half way through this.  Anyone that’s read Tosha’s poetry will know her type of work, which is always engaging as it is emotive.  Tosha is to poetry what stars are to the night sky.  A veritable Sorceress of the written word, in this book Tosha infuses her emotions on paper and holds nothing back.  It’s really a rather heartfelt read so far.  A review of this will come soon.

The Hobbit Party: The Vision Of Freedom That Tolkien Got, And The West Forgot by Jay Richards

Thrice is nice?  This is another one within the Tolkien-binge-series yours truly has been ensconced in.  The Hobbit Party features insights on philosophy, theology, political theory, and much more.  Looking forward to reading this.

The Best Things In Life- A Contemporary Socrates Looks At Power, Pleasure, Truth & The Good Life by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.

This is the foundation or Kreeft’s Socrates Meets Series, which essentially is the author’s fictional foray into questioning the greatest minds in philosophy through the fictional character of Socrates.   The author explores many salient issues such as money, education, morality, etc.  Looking forward to reading this very much.

The Collected Poems Of William Wordsworth by William Wordsworth

Hoping to engage in some of Wordsworth’s work, which has always intrigued me, and this  collection seemed a proper beginning.

Starcraft Evolution by Timothy Zahn

This is Sci-fi novel for the Starcraft fan.  If you haven’t read any of the previous books, or know about the game, this will probably not make much sense even though the author’s writing is pretty good.  Starcraft essentially follows three separate species, Humans being one of them, through their ongoing conflicts.  Might or might not write a review on it, we’ll see.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Susanne Collins

If you haven’t heard of the Hunger Games, feel free to click the X on the top right of the screen.  Just kidding!  Although have seen the movie, haven’t read the books, so thought it might be intriguing to actually read them since books are magnitudes superior to any movie.

Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying & Healing The Body Through Oral Cleansing by Dr. Bruce Fife.

Having been oil pulling for nigh 3 years, thought it prudent to research this further, and lo and behold, there was one sentence that was worth the entire price of the book, which wasn’t much anyways considering how much you gain from it.  If you’re looking for a simple way to help your health, ponder getting his book, or at least learning about oil pulling.  A review of this was just shared today here.

Holding Their Own [Volume 13]Renegade by Joe Nobody

Holding Their Own is post-apocalyptic fiction at its finest.  Haven’t read the book, so can’t comment on it.  But the series has been very engaging, the story is rather realistic, the characters are very intriguing and grow throughout the series, and it keeps a great pace throughout.  Holding Their Own is one of my three favorite post-apocalyptic series for sure.

Lawless [Lawless Trilogy] [V1] by Tarah Benner

Another post apocalyptic book that am hoping is a solid read.  Haven’t read any of Benner’s work yet, so am looking forward to delving into it.

Final Word

Make sure to look for the reviews of these books in the coming weeks/months.  Many of these books offer much to the readier in a variety of ways.

That said, what did all of you get this month?  If you have any book suggestions or comments, please feel free to share them below.

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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.

Common Core Crisis [Part 5] – What Led To Award Winning Teacher John Taylor Gatto To Quit Public Schooling

breakaway3
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 3, 2017

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
– Aristotle

“Wherever a man desires to know, that is the place proper for his education; whenever he desires to know, that is the time proper for his instruction.”
– Socrates

The last few weeks we have begun to catalog many disturbing aspects of common core within public schooling.  Not only is American education on a catastrophic decline [see here], but as has been documented by insiders such as John Taylor Gatto, Charlotte Iserbyt, and others, that’s exactly what the system aims to do.

For those that might react in an askance manner to such statements, in previous posts [Example #1, Example #2, Example #3, Example #4] we have begun to slowly construct much of the downright nonsense individuals have to deal with within the corrupt public school system.

Continuing along the same lines, below follows a passage taken from award winning teacher John Taylor Gatto, which was shared by him in his phenomenal Underground History Of American Education.

Gatto states why he chose to resign from the corrupt system in 1991, and the troubling reasons follow below:

Gatto decided to throw in the towel in 1991, and the reasons for this follow below:

“In the first year of the last decade of the twentieth century during my thirtieth year as a school teacher in Community School District 3, Manhattan, after teaching in all five secondary schools in the district, crossing swords with one professional administration after another as they strove to rid themselves of me, after having my license suspended twice for insubordination and terminated covertly once while I was on medical leave of absence, after the City University of New York borrowed me for a five-year stint as a lecturer in the Education Department (and the faculty rating handbook published by the Student Council gave me the highest ratings in the department my last three years), after planning and bringing about the most successful permanent school fund-raiser in New York City history, after placing a single eighth-grade class into 30,000 hours of volunteer community service, after organizing and financing a student-run food cooperative, after securing over a thousand apprenticeships, directing the collection of tens of thousands of books for the construction of private student libraries, after producing four talking job dictionaries for the blind, writing two original student musicals, and launching an armada of other initiatives to reintegrate students within a larger human reality, I quit.

I was New York State Teacher of the Year when it happened. An accumulation of disgust and frustration which grew too heavy to be borne finally did me in. To test my resolve I sent a short essay to The Wall Street Journal titled “I Quit, I Think.” In it I explained my reasons for deciding to wrap it up, even though I had no savings and not the slightest idea what else I might do in my mid-fifties to pay the rent. In its entirety it read like this:

Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents. The whole blueprint of school procedure is Egyptian, not Greek or Roman. It grows from the theological idea that human value is a scarce thing, represented symbolically by the narrow peak of a pyramid.

That idea passed into American history through the Puritans. It found its “scientific” presentation in the bell curve, along which talent supposedly apportions itself by some Iron Law of Biology. It’s a religious notion, School is its church. I offer rituals to keep heresy at bay. I provide documentation to justify the heavenly pyramid.

Socrates foresaw if teaching became a formal profession, something like this would happen. Professional interest is served by making what is easy to do seem hard; by subordinating the laity to the priesthood. School is too vital a jobs-project, contract giver and protector of the social order to allow itself to be “re-formed.” It has political allies to guard its marches, that’s why reforms come and go without changing much. Even reformers can’t imagine school much different.

David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal development, when both are 13, you can’t tell which one learned first—the five-year spread means nothing at all. But in school I label Rachel “learning disabled” and slow David down a bit, too. For a paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and stop. He won’t outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount merchandise, “special education” fodder. She’ll be locked in her place forever.

In 30 years of teaching kids rich and poor I almost never met a learning disabled child; hardly ever met a gifted and talented one either. Like all school categories, these are sacred myths, created by human imagination. They derive from questionable values we never examine because they preserve the temple of schooling.

That’s the secret behind short-answer tests, bells, uniform time blocks, age grading, standardization, and all the rest of the school religion punishing our nation. There isn’t a right way to become educated; there are as many ways as fingerprints. We don’t need state-certified teachers to make education happen—that probably guarantees it won’t.

How much more evidence is necessary? Good schools don’t need more money or a longer year; they need real free-market choices, variety that speaks to every need and runs risks. We don’t need a national curriculum or national testing either. Both initiatives arise from ignorance of how people learn or deliberate indifference to it. I can’t teach this way any longer. If you hear of a job where I don’t have to hurt kids to make a living, let me know. Come fall I’ll be looking for work.”[1][Bold Emphasis Added]

Coming to terms with all of the above, can you really blame Gatto?  And to think, this took place over two decades ago.  The public schooling system has only gotten worse.

Those facts lead Gatto to speak over 750 times throughout the world in the following years to discuss the inherent issues within public schooling.  And he hasn’t stopped, thankfully.

Gatto found that individuals from all over the world were beginning to see the shadows of the system for what it was, and are were beginning to speak out, and rightly so.

The only way to avoid the conformity crisis is to breakaway from the system that makes you conform from the ground up.  Gatto and many others have spoken about this at length.

Seek to learn and teach children [and adults!] not only how to think critically [which school doesn’t teach], but how to employ logic [which modern schooling also doesn’t teach, although was taught for centuries in classical education].  Don’t allow others to make you, nor your children conform.  Strive to live life to the fullest extent, learning from moments – every single one of them, especially the bad ones – rather than by disciplines, or worse, methods. 

Life has everything you need to learn.  It only takes open eyes and an open mind to take it all in and use every day as a teaching platform as every opportunity is ruminated upon, pondered, learned from, and digested at length.

Anyone can teach another person something, and it happens on a day by day basis.

It’s just that we don’t get hammered to see those experiences as teaching.  The curious part is that, life lessons happen ALL the time, and it doesn’t take a public school system to teach that.  Not that schools teach that anyways.

Learn from every moment.

Learn from every person.

Learn from yourself.

And teach others what you have learned.

Then and only then are we going to begin creating a new system, from the ground up.

And all it takes is individuals rising up, as they have throughout history.

Don’t hold back.  Education is too important to forgo, or to leave to others.

Change starts with you.  Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.  For if we don’t take time to teach ourselves about the lessons of life, we will arrive at life’s end having learned nothing.

_________________________________________________________
Suggested resources reviewed below for those seeking ideas to self-teach and become autodidacts:

Socratic Logic V3.1 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren
Philosophy 101 – An Introduction To Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Complete Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking [2nd Ed.] by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston
The Imaginative Argument – A Practical Manifesto For Writers by Frank L. Cioffi

The following books reviewed below cover the disturbing issues within the public schooling system:

Rotten To The Common Core by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.& Gary Lawrence
Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
A Different Kind Of Teacher – Solving The Crisis Of American Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
Weapons Of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto
Drilling Through The Core, by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors
_________________________________________________________
Source:

[1] John Taylor Gatto, Underground History Of American Education, pp. xv-xvi.

Book Review: Summerhill School – A New View Of Childhood by A.S. Neil

sh
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 3, 2017

Having read three books by John Taylor Gatto’s, who has spoken out at length about the inherent issues within public schooling, while also having met some people through discussing these books, someone was kind enough to recommend this particular book.  To say the least, this book is outside of the box as outside of the box can be.

Summerhill School – A New View Of Childhood by A.S. Neil is a book that details the venture of those who took part in the school known as Summerhill, which sought to achieve a new standard of learning and growth.

A.S. Neil was the person mainly responsible for this audacious undertaking, and his actions echo still to this day.

What Neil sought to do was create a place where the idea/value of Freedom is wholly respected, through and through.  For this, this new school required a different way of thinking – a whole new mindset.  This venture required the removal of preconceived notions of childhood schooling, coupled with the open-mindedness that to achieve true education in the school system the child must govern entirely free to govern themselves.  This means that the child would be active in most of what the child chooses for their own development, which may include various aspects learning or playing.

Neil’s individually democratic style education is quite evocative, because when carried out correctly [as myriad examples show in his book] it shows that children can self-govern themselves, and also do so quite well.  This takes place also with little to no interference from the adults, except in some very unique circumstances.  For the most part though, children were left to their own devices, to choose what type of learning they would undertake.

To gauge what Neil strove to achieve, let’s take a gander at his own words:

“The goal was to use childhood and adolescence to create emotional wholeness and personal strength.  Neil thought that once this wholeness had been achieved children would be self-motivated to learn what they needed academically.  The key to this growth was to give children freedom to play for as long as they felt the need in an atmosphere of approval and love.   The children were given freedom but not license; they could do as they pleased as long as it didn’t bother anyone else.”[1]

Therein lies the beauty, for the child who ends up not playing, ends up not using one of the most important parts of life for learning and growth.  Furthermore, the children that have unfinished childhoods so to speak, later in life seek to do things that could have already taken place, and which end up slowing down the progress of growth as an adult.  That’s what Neil seemed to notice anyhow.

Within the book there is a wide array of topics discussed.  Everything from social structure, emotional problems, particularly with children who are a bit older, meetings, self-government, what are called ‘problem children’, play and self-regulation and much more is discussed at length.

Perhaps, the best way to understand what Summerhill is truly about comes from the following piece:

“You don’t have Summerhill in order that children should study or learn to become “ists” of any kind.  You let them function in their own play-work fashion, and you postulate no purpose for them at all.”[2]

The genius of the idea is that because their core individual foundation in childhood was so enjoyable and emotionally robust children end up learning vastly quicker when they choose to follow their path than students that follow the public school system.  However, is that growth is not allowed when children are forced through compulsory schooling [Read: Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto] which crushes their individuality and imagination.  Those very circumstances turn children in robots, only capable of following orders and never taught to critically think.  Only memorization of facts becomes important, and not arriving at the facts.

For that reason, many of the topics of the book do delve into the idea of playing.  Neil does make it a point about focusing on the benefits of playing quite a bit.  What the author states constitutes play is:

“…not thinking in terms of athletic fields and organized games; I am thinking of play in terms of fantasy.  Organized games involve skill, competition, teamwork; but children’s play usually requires no skill, little competition, and hardly any teamwork.”[3]

In other words, true play, like a whetstone, hones the development of imagination.  And imagination is integral, because a child whose imagination hasn’t developed has had his childhood stultified, as well as their imagination, and will be a conformist child, and thus, a conformist adult at the drop of a hat.  Disturbingly, this is exactly what we see in society more and more with time.

The book is split up into two parts. Firstly, the book covers all facets regarding Summerhill, which are covered at length from a variety of angles, citing dozens and dozens of examples of how children responded to particular scenarios and whatnot. Everything from classes, theater, music, sex, teachers, and much more is discussed here.  The second part of the book covers many aspects of Neils life, as he takes us through the journey of what brought him to taking part in Summerhill.

All this considered, the book is a really great read.  Admittedly, the first half appealed to me a lot more than the second part, but that’s because the interest for me was in the process for the individual and not so much in how the author came to be part of it.  Regardless, the book really is something worth pondering for anybody that thinks the one-size-fits-all public schooling and compulsory conformity system that western education has become is good, really needs to take a look at the conformity crisis that’s taking place.  That, however, is a whole different can of worms.  One that John Taylor Gatto discusses at length in all of his books.

If you have read any of John Taylor Gatto’s book, then you will know how indoctrination and conformity are the aim of public schooling, and there’s many documents showing this.  Because of that, and more, an honest view into a different paradigm such as this one brought about by Neil is needed.  Summerhill has shown that education and personal growth can actually be enjoyable for once.

Summerhill has already broken new ground for a new paradigm.  Now it’s up to individuals to ruminate upon how to learn from it and see where it may take them.

_______________________________________________________________
Suggested resources reviewed below for those seeking ideas to self-teach and become autodidacts:

Socratic Logic V3.1 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren
Philosophy 101 – An Introduction To Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Complete Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking [2nd Ed.] by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston
The Imaginative Argument – A Practical Manifesto For Writers by Frank L. Cioffi

The following books reviewed below cover the disturbing issues within the public schooling system:

Rotten To The Common Core by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.& Gary Lawrence
Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
A Different Kind Of Teacher – Solving The Crisis Of American Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
Weapons Of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto
Drilling Through The Core, by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors
_______________________________________________________________
Sources:

[1] A.S. Neil, Summerhill School – A New View Of Childhood, p. xviii
[2] Ibid., p. 217.
[3] Ibid., p. 32.
_______________________________________________________________
This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.

Book Review: The Hobbit By J.R.R. Tolkien

thehobbitlotr

TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 2, 2017

“Real books disgust the totalitarian mind because they generate uncontrollable mental growth – and it cannot be monitored.”
John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind Of Teacher, p. 82.

“Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry.  When we consider a book, we musn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means.”
– Umberto Eco, The Name Of The Rose

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is one of his landmark pieces, which is part of Tolkien’s legendarium.  Tolkien’s legendarium revolves around the world of Arda.

Unknown to many, The Legendarium was created by Tolkien to serve as fictional mythology about the remote past of Earth, in which Middle Earth is the main stage.

The Legendarium is composed by phenomenal fiction such as The Lord of the Rings and also The Hobbit, as previously mentioned.  But also, the Legendarium features works such as The Silmarillion, The History of the Middle-Earth, The History Of The Hobbit, and more.

Undoubtedly one of the most significant books in the 20th Century, The Hobbit takes us through the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, whose life early on echoes predictability, comfort and simplicity.

However, after an unexpected party, Bilbo’s life changes most auspiciously.  After repeatedly stating he was not interested in being privy to an adventure, Bilbo was tricked into going by his guests, the dwarves, appealing to Bilbo’s more adventurous side – his Tookish side. There in the adventure begins.

On Bilbo’s quest to the Lonely Mountain, he and his companions traverse through Rivendel, the Misty Mountains, the dark forest of Mirkwood and even Lake Town, before anchoring at the Desolation of Smaug for the apex of the story.

On the way, Bilbo and his gang run into all sorts of folks: elves, humans, eagles, wargs, orcs, and even intricate characters such as Beorn and Gollum, all of which serve to make this phenomenal fantasy into one of the most intriguing mental escapes any fictional book has ever accomplished.

Throughout the epic, Bilbo’s journey mirrors that of the readers in the time which Tolkien published the story in 1937.  Just as Bilbo was reticent of going in the journey, being rather conservative, and being comfortable in his rather run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter everyday life, so were the people of the time of Tolkien a bit reserved about venturing on a journey into the realm of epic fantasy.  Mainstream folks weren’t interested in fantasy, and some even felt askance to it.  This was the reason why Tolkien used Bilbo as an analogy for the reader to familiarize itself with this Universe.

In fact, as medieval literature specialist and writer Corey Olsen Ph.D. puts it in his in-depth book, Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit:

“Bilbo’s initial perspective is so narrow, so domesticated, that being made late for dinner apparently counts as very serious hazard.  When Gandalf suggests sending him on an adventure, Bilbo runs into the house in panic.”[1][Emphasis On Original]

That’s how reticent Bilbo was!

These very circumstances, which mirror those of the readers of the time, are best exemplified by the following words:

“Tolkien was very aware of the artistic challenge he faced in writing a work of fantasy, especially since fantasy literature was far from the literary mainstream in the early twentieth century.  He knew that when they encountered his story in The Hobbit, his readers would have to leave their mundane and comfortable world behind and invest their imaginations in a world that contains magic and unexpected marvels.  In chapter One, Tolkien gives us a model for this very process within the story itself.  We begin in our safe and predictable world, and in the first chapter, we find ourselves in a world of wizard and dwarves and dragons.  In this transition, we find ourselves coming alongside a protagonist who is struggling through the exactly the same process, a character who himself internalizes the conflict between the mundane and the marvelous   Our first introduction to this magical, grim, and dangerous world of adventure is also his introduction, and his reluctance and difficulty in adjusting to it give us time to ease past our own discomfort and reservations.  Bilbo Baggins serves as a perfect touchstone for readers, both exploring and embodying the trickier frontier between the predictable and the unexpected.”[2]

And yet, no matter what Bilbo thought on the surface, deep down inside part of his deepest self was quite intrigued with the prospect of an adventure.  This insight is best viewed in the following passage, which takes place right when the dwarves begin an impromptu musical performance at his abode:

“Bilbo “forgot everything else, and was swept away into dark lands under strange moons, far over The Water and very far from his hobbit-hole under The Hill”.  He is transported into the land of the dwarves, and their song even brings him to share for a moment their own perspective and experience.  As they sing, he “felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves.”  For a little while, Bilbo is moved by the music and the poetry of the dwarves, and he steps imaginatively out of his little world and into their story.  At this moment, “something Tookish woke up inside him,” and Bilbo finds that there is a part of him that desires adventure after all.”[3]

Once Bilbo’s imagination is unleashed it was like Pandora ’s Box, and there was no putting it back.

The contrast within Bilbo is best noticed when compared with Gandalf, as each represent two sides of the same coin.

As Olsen elucidates:

“Bilbo’s settled, Baggins life is like prose, plain and businesslike, and the magical world of Gandalf and the dwarves is more like poetry, full of wonder and marvels, but also strange and sorcerous like Gandalf’s smokerings. Bilbo may adhere to the Baggins point of view, but his Tookish heritage does give him a tendency toward that other, adventurous life, a tendency that is lurking beneath the surface when Bilbo meets Gandalf.”[4]

This tendency towards  what’s intriguing and portentous is what helps Bilbo grow throughout the journey as he finds the core of his Tookish side, and uses it to help himself and his newfound friends in this journey.

Intriguingly, as Bilbo grows accustomed to the wondrous and imaginative changes that magic brings about, so did the readers of the time.

The best part of this The Hobbit is that it’s so in depth and profound that there’s much to be had from it.

Truth be told, as Louis Markos Ph.D. notes in his book, On The Shoulders Of Hobbits – The Road To Virtue With Tolkien And Lewis:

“So greatly did The Hobbit delight adults and children hungry for the lost realm of fairy tales that the cried out for a sequel.  In response, Tolkien spent the next decade and a half crafting a far richer and more mature work that would ratchet up its predecessor from a humble fairy tale to a full-scale epic in the tradition of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Beowulf.”[5]

The Hobbit is truly an upper echelon book.  This book resides within a class of books that belongs in an entirely different realm.  Some of the greatest books of all literature treat life as a journey, and this book is no different.  Moreover, not only that, but the book is so in depth, and offers so many subtle themes, that people for ages will be learning from it.

Touching upon this very subject, Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren speak about these type of books in their own touchstone piece, How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading:

“There is a second class of books from which you can learn – both how to read and how to live.  Less than one out of every hundred books belongs in this class – probably it is more like one in a thousand, or even one in ten thousand.  These are the good books, the ones that were carefully wrought by the authors, the ones that convey to the reader significant insights about subjects of enduring interest to human beings.  There are in all probably no more than a few thousand of such books.”[6]

The Hobbit offers many profound lessons of life.  Through fantasy fiction Tolkien creates a story which is analogous to what each of our own journeys are individually.  And just as life offers us countless lessons from which to learn from, so offers The Hobbit many germane gems of wisdom that are for the taking which are woven throughout the story.

In sum, the best reason to read this book is encapsulated in the following words by Markos:

“All ages at all times need stories, but our needs them so much more…The stories that we need are precisely those that will beckon us to follow their heroes along the Road; that will embody for us the true nature of good and evil, virtue and vice, and then challenge us to engage the struggle between the two…”[7]

And The Hobbit, for those very salient reasons, and more, is just one of those stories.

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Sources:

[1] Corey Olsen Ph.D., Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, p. 21.
[2] Ibid., p. 35.
[3] Ibid., p. 24.
[4] Ibid., p. 23.
[5] Louis Markos Ph.D., On The Shoulders Of Hobbits – The Road To Virtue With Tolkien And Lewis, pp. 13-14.
[6] Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading, pp. 332-333.
[7]Louis Markos Ph.D., On The Shoulders Of Hobbits – The Road To Virtue With Tolkien And Lewis, p. 187.
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