Why Prep Schools 1955-1965 Succeeded

At my Prep School there was a Headmaster. If he said you were a teacher then you were a teacher. If he said not a teacher, then not a teacher — that day, that minute.

The Head at Trinity-Pawling thought that teaching was not a special skill all of its own, much less a “profession” or any basis for a “union of teachers”. He thought that teaching was simply a form of leadership. So, the people he hired were all leaders and here are 10 of them:

1. A 4th degree black belt in Okinawan Karate (goju-ryu)
2. A member of the Roman Rota (highest Court in the Vatican)
3. A US history teacher and scholar
4. A former football star and now coach
5. A Chemist
6. A Broadway Play Producer (Plume de ma T’Aunte)
7. A college track star
8. An organizer of outdoor work
9. An RAF Ace (Spitfires) 5 confirmed kills Battle of Britain.
10. A speed reading executive (Readwell)

No degrees in “Education”
No certificates in “Education”
No training in education
Every faculty member had done something in their life.
No faculty member lacked a BA degree at least

The Head was an insurance tycoon, on Wall Street and Park Avenue.
He ran the school with a iron hand, no tenure, no “academic freedom” no assing up.
He did not like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez so he took a sledgehammer and smashed to bits every stereo in the school. Quite a large pile. Quite small bits. I wrote about it for the “Country Cousin” (the school paper).

The students were molded by the school which was a shadow of the Headmaster.
Every student who wore the Trinity-Pawling blazer was to some degree an embodiment of the values of the Headmaster. Some more than others. They were called “prefects”. If you crossed a prefect you got the ugly stick (hockey stick on you rear end).

You can’t mold good men with no good man as the model who stamps the “character” onto the blanks (students, us, me).

I got into several colleges. The Head told me where I was going to college. There was no dialectic, Socratic or otherwise. I went to St. John’s College (Annapolis) and graduated from there in 1971.

Competence is what you need for education to work. Capacity + Autocracy = Competent Headmaster = education that works to produce a person likely to do well in life.

None of these idea are even around today. They are remembrance of lost time. Today we have abject failure (K-12 plus college). The system is not working well compared to almost any other first world country on this planet.

In order to become what you are not, you must go by the way in which you are not.

1955-1965 New England Prep Schools are in the past. But everything old can be new again.

But you need an open mind to make that happen.

And a Woke mind is not an open mind.

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