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Saturday, February 13, 2010


I just finished rereading Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. I first read it a long time ago, probably when I was a teenager. It was an interesting book. This is the new uncut version. I thought some of the passages were a little overlong. On the plus side, every few pages there was either a word I hadn't run across before, a bit of history I didn't know, or a line or two I thought worth quoting. I ended up with a page of page numbers. Someday I'll go through them and write up all that info.

After mulling it over for a while, I decided that one of the main points of the book is discipline.

With three kids in college I also have been wondering about the value of a college education. Someone said that college thought you to think. I am thinking now that the point of college is discipline.

Matter of fact, I suspect the whole point of all education is to teach people self-discipline. The accumulation of knowledge is just a side effect. In order to acquire knowledge in things that have no apparent relevance to your life, you need a certain amount of self-discipline to force yourself to learn these things. For some people, learning things is easy. They will not learn much about self-discipline. Others manage to learn the material by dint of hard work. They learn the material, and they get some experience with self-discipline. Others can't be bothered and learn neither the material nor any discipline.

I suspect that discipline is at the foundation of the British Empire. Seems I read that the old (1700's) British technique of having a double line of men facing the enemy was something that took extensive training to be able to deliver in time of actual combat. Enemy armies of the 3rd world were more often than not referred to as an "undisciplined rabble".

At one time I was working on a theory as to why some people are rich are some people aren't. I came to the conclusion that the rich were better able to control their emotions. I no longer believe that that is the sole essential difference, but it is a contributing factor.

Wasn't the whole point of the training of Shaolin monks in Kung Fu to teach self-discipline?

Last week one of my friends at Thursday lunch made the point that the economic success of any area corresponded directly with the education level achieved by women in that area.

Anyway, I just want to reiterate my idea that the only kind of foreign aid the West should be offering is education. And it should be a long term commitment of 50 years or more.


Ole Phat Stu said...


sharon said...

Isn't that what we do with our kids, provide the education but don't expect results for 50 years?

Chuck Pergiel said...

Sharon, you are too funny, and exactly right!