An Ignorant Man

Posted by jlubans on October 13, 2023

Followers of Leading from the Middle know of my occasional detours from leadership topics into noting the evocative and forceful writing I encounter in my reading of books from olden times.
My most recent instance is the below quote from Marjorie Bowen?s 1935 biography on William Cobbett, a radical conservative (1763?1835) and feared pamphleteer. (So feared, he was jailed and threatened with more jail for his views on the endemic corruption in the British government.)
Always for the little guy, Cobbett?s pseudonym was Peter Porcupine and he did prickle the powers that be whenever he encountered the raw deals handed out to the lower classes. Himself a highly articulate self-taught ?peasant? he differentiated between book learning and those who learned on their own through experience and observation and most importantly through ?doing?.
The notion that only a college education can produce an ?educated man? remains a popular myth. Absent that piece of paper one may be judged to be an ?ignorant?.
While this ?paper ceiling? is showing a few cracks, too many capable people are denied jobs because of an artificial requirement, rather than their demonstrable capacity to think clearly and precisely.
Here?s what Peter Porcupine had to say:
?If the farmer understands well how to conduct the business of his farm, and if, from observation of the seasons and the soil, he knows how to draw from the latter as much profit
as therefrom can be drawn; if the labourer be expert at ploughing, sowing, reaping, mowing, making of ricks, loading the wagon, threshing and winnowing the corn, and bestowing on the cattle the various necessary cares: if this be the case, though neither of them can write or read, I call neither an ignorant man.?

Copyright John Lubans 2023

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