Friday, January 13, 2012

My Fair Lady!

Oliver Demille, author of A Thomas Jefferson Education, has explained to us that the best form of education it through the exposure to the classics, then a mentoring with someone well versed in the content of the works. A funny thing happened on the way to the....Actually that's a lead into a story. In my youth I was introduced to a musical called My Fair Lady. It was a wonderful production written in 1956 based upon George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. It's actually set the record for the longest run musical in history, so I guess you can say it's reached the award of "classic."

Anyway we went to Radio City Music hall to see this wonderful production when I was quite young. It had little or no effect upon me as all I saw was some singing and dancing winding up in romance. Wasted on a young man who would have rather watched an adventure film, but apparently I was paying some attention because I do remember the plot. Henry Higgins, a phoneticist, embarked on a grand experiment with a flower girl, Eliza Doolittle in an attempt to refine her into a lady of culture. Eliza is quite the mess as she can hardly speak understandable English, let alone comprehend basic hygiene. So Higgins and his assistant teach Ms. Doolittle to enunciate, bathe, and manners. The whole to do winds up in Eliza being presented to the aristocracy during the ball and she passes with flying colors. In the mean time Doolittle's hate for Higgins for inspiring change turns into passion and the whole thing becomes a love story.

Well that's what I took away from it as a youth. Then came the mentoring while reading a book of all things. I had an aha moment 4 decades later! If I'd had this opportunity to discuss the underlying theme of the production forty years ago, the lesson it contained could have been absorbed sooner and practiced. Unfortunately our education system doesn't allow for that! Back to the point, the moral of the story was that people will rise to the level you expect them to. They become what you see in them. If you expect more, you get more. If you only see the negative, they will meet your expectations. That went right over my head and I dare say shouldn't have, had I been mentored by someone familiar with the work four decades ago. That my friends is the importance of Oliver's point of a classic education being practiced.

God Bless!
Capt. Bill

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