Students of the Savage Spirit

This past week I encountered two groups of students (5th/6th grade) of contrasting culture, though possessing a raw impulsiveness. One (Expeditionary Learning model) is well versed in the concrete facts of their physical world. The other (Montessori method) is more imaginative in their outlook. Still, in a unique way they expressed a deliberate self-will. There actions, planned or immediate, were deemed as only natural without thought of moral consequence. Now, what happens when they become discontent perhaps come to despair with the sinful world they inherit?

This is not to say that these children were terrors. Actually, there were a number of redemptive qualities for each group. What I am really getting at is the world view these young ones held. If continued in thought/practice as they grow older, there will surely be disastrous outcomes. Like I said, a raw impulsiveness. In other words, will anybody be able to control them when they come of age? Someone who can direct these headstrong beings shall very likely be of the same mind, just only more cunning.

The first of the two are definitely textbook learners, with the ability to comprehend technical ideas. Displaying excellent communication and motivation, they seem well on their way adapting to the modern world. What may bite this world a decade or so from now is their self-awareness in their role of the evolutionary process. For you see, they spoke indirectly of a view on morals that combines the necessity of animal survival and contemporary social rules. Believing they are animals on close terms with all members of this kingdom, their bodily needs are practically as important as what is right. After all, the first core value of their education model is “The Primacy of Self-Discovery.”

The second is of a more tactile drive, learning according to their individual abilities. They can be intensely engaged and focused on what interests them. Likewise they possess a genuine innocence, a dreamy sense of wonder for the world around them. Behavior often hinges on childishness, not child likeness, for most of them. They are trained to adhere more to their wants than what is outside their concern. Self-control being of secondary value, they are not reliable to adapt to social environments or work together in ongoing tasks. The world is pretty much extensions to their personally customized class rooms.

The inspiration/founder of both educational systems were ‘reformers’ discontent with contemporary society of the early 1900s. They were advocates for science by their own distinction, sharing the attitude that the approach needed to be more man-centered on the individual student. Kurt Hahn, whom Expeditionary is based on, believed that youth were innately good, needing to grow in self-development, less they be corrupted by society at large. Maria Montessori, physician & psychologist, desired children to be influenced in their self-direction towards the “spirit” of science, with the intended goal of curiosity for imaginative mastery of the “mechanics.”

C.S. Lewis, lead Christian author of the 20th century, wrote a lesser known character of a rather forgotten book, which illustrates an ideological force lying in wait to engulf civilization. In “The Pilgrim’s Regress,” the newly converted Lewis depicts the nihilistic ‘Savage’ as a sophisticated conqueror in barbarian dress. He represents a mindset/spirit not of a unique personality but an apathy to modern society due to disillusion from all the ideals and promises unmet. Casually under his elaborate orders are social movements akin to fascism and communism.

The beings for these ideologies in Lewis’ allegory are sub-human trolls, meant to be a parody of the grand ideal humanity is supposed to become under these social systems. Savage was raised in the world below his “honey-combed” mountain fortress. Leaving it behind, seeing it as vain talk, he desires to destroy it, for according to him, “The excellent deed is eternal. The hero alone has this privilege, that death for him is not defeat, and the lamenting over him and the memory is part of the good he aimed for; and the moment of battle fears nothing from the future because it has already cast security away [italics added] (“Furthest North” of book 6).”

This mode of thought is the extreme product of a world view/morality based on the individual will. Being social beings, we assemble ourselves with those of a likeminded will. This applies to a desire to carve out a world for the ‘truly’ fit or one forcefully levelled for all to be equal in social standing. The expeditionary students seemed ready to decide who/what would thrive after the culling of survival. The Montessori pupils only care to strive for what catches their immediate fancy. Those who can manipulate such raw yet refined impulsiveness, can acquire a self-driven horde for self-justified amoral acts, as well as systems of savagery. Lord Jesus Christ, may your Spirit be with us disciples of your Word, to speak and live the Truth before the deceived younger generations, while encouraging those who know You to allow your will be done.

“In the beginning a was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that m Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

John 1:1-13

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