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Why have Objectivists written so little about manners? I am inclined to believe it is because they have accepted the common view of manners, just as Objectivists traditionally wrote little about benevolence because they had accepted the ordinary view of that virtue. And what is that common view of manners? To put a fine point on it: Manners are widely thought to involve a sacrifice of one's values and and authenticity for the sake of obeying fashions and arbitrary conventions. One reason for the belief that decent social behavior is sacrificial and inauthentic is that conservatives who recommend it and bohemians who oppose it do so in exactly those terms. Says Stephen L. Carter, a professor of law at Yale University, "Civility, I shall argue, is the sum of the many sacrifices we are called to make for the sake of living together" (Civility. New York: Basic Books [1998], 11; hereafter Civility). On the other hand, the basketball player Dennis Rodman justified bumping his head into a referee's by saying, "I was making a statement that I was free and independent and not like everybody else" (Civility, 74). How, on Carter's approach does one respond to a person who has no wish to make a sacrifice? Carter is a Christian and so his answers trails off into theology. For example, speaking of the need to bring civility to advertising, Carter writes: Only a mighty effort to free ourselves from the shackles of market language will enable us to create the...
In the nineteenth century, Horace Mann began "the reading wars" when he raged against instruction in phonics, calling the letters of the alphabet "bloodless, ghostly apparitions." In the 1930s, the publisher Scott Foresman introduced its "Dick and Jane" readers, which taught children to read by memorizing the look of words rather than the sound of letters. In 1955, Rudolf Flesch's Why Johnny Can't Read attacked Scott Foresman's "look-say" approach. In 1995, California passed its "ABC" laws requiring instruction in phonics and spelling skills. Californians acted after their state, which had been using a "whole language" approach since 1987, received the lowest fourth-grade reading scores in America. In 1997, the U.S. Congress made its presence felt. Concerned about the growing split between parents and educators, Congress set up the National Reading Panel. Its charge was to determine, from existing research, the most effective approaches for teaching children how to read, in the hopes that the panel's findings might influence the teaching of the children in schools and the home. The National Reading Panel delivered its final report on April 13, 2000. Navigator has asked James J. Campbell, a New York pediatrician with a deep concern for childhood education, to give us his assessment of the panel's findings, but first to relate some of the personal experiences that have provoked his concern—and his anger. The number of children referred from the...