Oswald Spengler’s ‘The Decline of the West’ was first released in its two volumes 87 years ago this June. It embraced the Hegelian conviction that dominated so much of Dutch, German and Slavic idealism: namely determinism. Certainly the historic acclaim of our economic and political prowess has left the adherents of such propaganda deeply bewildered.
Spengler’s original insight to write ‘Decline’ was none other than a clarion call that the embrace of non-euclidian mathematics would presage the unequivocal defeat of the West.
Euclidian geometry as practiced by classical Greeks and Roman Legions had innumerable applications that contemporary students can easily embrace, such as astronomy, calendrics, geology, cartography, military history, and architecture. Until the 1980’s New York State identified its math curriculum from classical Greece and Rome with consistently impressive results. It sought to replace this classically informed discipline with a mathematical pastiche known as Sequential I and II. This had disastrous implications, still reverberating throughout both the curriculum and the lives of the students. Simply put, the Regents abandoned the pedagogy that helped sustain not only classical civilizations but the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution and the continued success of multinational corporations and their patents postWorld War II. Inventions that we still continue to enjoy today. When the Regents abandoned this pedagogy it invited disastrous results.
Contemporary students seek an integral non-specialist curriculum that engages the entire human person. This is embodied in classical mathematics.
And for readers who thought I advocate a false historicism in a return to classical learning ought to acclaim the hypnotic felt desire that contemporary students have for learning that espouses the ear over the eye. The mathematics that dominates contemporary physics is a ‘quanta’ that cannot be perceived exclusively mathematically. Cultures that inhabit a dominate linear visual stress are severely disadvantaged in quantum physics. Auditory cultures are far better primed to embrace, understand, recognize and teach this ‘quanta’. No historicism can help us as we embrace this quantum reality. But we fail when we don’t have properly informed curriculum. Sequential I and II never embodied an intrinsic pedagogy to inculcate students in how to think mathematically. We can properly prepare students with a return to the trivium. And we can celebrate the current urban embrace of tonality and verse; for it may be the only analogue left in a quanta world.
Beginning in September of 2010 the NYS Board of Regents after over twenty years of failed social policy will reverberate back to the classical curriculum of that dominated the West since Aristotle: Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry.
The wake from such failed policy is what occurs when unelected officials dominate policy best left to decentralized school districts.