Journal

3 June 1957

3 June 1957

Stopped at Mrs. Watson’s to pick up the Wall St. Journals. Edwin came in. He fell off a ladder, hurt his back, and almost broke his arm yesterday. Also, someone stole his wallet at Five Points – drunk again, I presume.

He said: “I’m sure living having a run of bad luck.”

I said: “Doesn’t the saying go ‘luck is what you make of it’?”

Mrs. Watson said: “Luck may be what you make of it, but how you take it is what counts.”

… Interesting…

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One cannot control one’s environment often. What one should aim at is control over oneself.

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This attitude does not put an unnecessary burden upon the individual.

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28 May 1957

28 May 1957

Learning, no matter which field, is only as good as its foundation is.

One would be considered foolhardy if he tried to place furniture in a spot on the second floor of a house which had not yet been built, or to lay rugs in the space where a future floor was to be constructed next year. Yet perhaps because “learning” is an invisible abstraction, we take the liberty with it as we would be considered insane for attempting with visible material objects.

For example, to sharpen my point, anyone with a grain of sense in his head knows he cannot put a lamp on a table unless the table is resting on a firm surface and he has the lamp to put on the table. Still, one wants to play a piece of music with distinction, when he is not sure of the keyboard, musical notation, and its relationship to the piano keyboard. Another wants to write a novel, when he knows little or nothing of grammar or [what] the technique of the novel is supposed to be. A man wants to be rich yet has no particular knowledge which will bring him riches.

It is only when a firm foundation is constructed that learning can be acquired. He who wants to play the piano must learn the names of the keys on the keyboard. Also, he must learn to read musical notation. He must teach his mind to correlate the musical notation with the keyboard before he can make successful musical sounds.

Such primary, fundamental approaches must be used in learning to write a novel. First things first. The same with acquiring riches in any amount. A baby cannot walk before he learns to sit and stand up.

Somehow, when confronted with the learning process, the human mind frequently tricks us. Because the learning process is not visible, only as is apparent in the results of learning, one frequently forgets that proper learning calls for a step-by-step progressive process. Each new phase of learning is only as good as the one from which approach proceeded. Good learning means good comprehension and use of all the phases of the whole learning process in the field of one’s interest, whether art, music, needlework, house or bridge construction. No house roof ever hung in midair without walls of some kind to hold it up.

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If one is going to be stubborn about something, let that something be worthwhile.

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How teenagers can punch your ego.

  1. You think you are quite a good guy. The kids pick out your faults.
  2. You have certain ideas about life and people and the kids don’t agree.

Little kids fight, next minute they play – not grown-ups. They hug their preconceived ideas of ego and pride too closely.

You can think you are helping your child with advice (he welcomed it as a child). When the teenager is reached – your advice is boring. When they are little they love to hear about the things you did when you were growing up. A teenager is not interested. He is too busy living to be bothered with your old tales.

Children are only young once – enjoy each phase of their growing years.

27 May 1957

27 May 1957

A person that argues most of the time, that is, when his predominant characteristic is to challenge what anyone says – is it because that individual is on ground which is not firm? In other words – is he who gets angry and will argue at the drop of his hat do[ing] so because:

  1. He himself is unsure?
  2. He cannot explain his viewpoint, but insists on your agreement to quiet his own unsure notices?
  3. Or because he likes his viewpoint and wants nothing to challenge it?

A good teacher is one who knows his subject so well, he does not need to argue or become irritated. He can answer questions regarding his subject for teaching. He also is big enough to say, “I don’t know, or there is no sure answer” when that is the case – as in a social matter, where customs change.

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Where there is so much emphasis on correctness and perfection, and not enough emphasis is placed on errors and mistakes, it is easy (under these circumstances) to give the impression that errors and mistakes, and [which are] essential toward perfection, are somehow taboo. More recognition should be given to the privilege of error as part of a learning process. Trial and error will always be part of the learning process.

Kurt, for instance, is so ready to call Billy a “poor sport”. By branding him constantly with the label “poor sport”, Kurt labels Billy as ignorant and/or stupid in the matter of good sportsmanship.

Name-calling is never the answer to a problem. It is merely labeling the problem and condemning the person having such a problem. Such an approach, even if it does name the problem, gives no solution to the problem. What is the answer to a problem?

In Billy’s case, it means recognizing the fact that Billy becomes angry with himself for not doing well say in a game of chess for instance. It might be well, then, to encourage him to think about or study the cause of his error. In the case of chess, it might mean the better use of a piece, one that Billy has trouble with so that he can improve his use of the piece.

The same could have been applied to baseball, for instance. Instead of calling him a lousy catcher, it might have been better to give him more catching practice.

Now, Kurt can say “I tried to pitch to him or, I tried to play chess with Bill. Bill just gets angry when he can’t win!” And Kurt would be right. But even as with all learning one can get too much at a time. The arm or the brain tires after a certain amount of effort.

What is necessary, then, is to gracefully call a halt, gracefully and truthfully call a halt. First by saying, “You’re getting tired. This is enough for now,” in the case of baseball. Or “Let’s finish this chess game” and suggesting concentration on study with the difficulty Bill experiences in his effort to win the game.

By using an approach of the kind suggested here, the emphasis is not on “winning” but on “learning how to win”. This emphasis is not on “how lousy you are” and “what a poor sport you are when you did not win”, but on a constructive approach to the problem of “how to win.”

Actually, when I stop to think of it, it could be incorrect tactics used on Billy in the past which keeps his attention concentrated on “winning” rather than on a careful thorough constructive attack on what he is not doing well.

This whole idea could be an article for “Your Life”. I believe that is what is wrong with many people. They concentrate on the result, rather than on how to obtain the result.

Men who want promotions.

Kids who want to measure up. There is not enough, “how can I achieve it”. There is too much emphasis on quote what I want to achieve” – the end result rather than the way to reach the result.

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Many kinds of end results do not require expensive schooling. Libraries, inexpensive evening classes, or another person who has accomplished or achieved your result may be able to help you.

The primary objective must be on “how” rather than “what”. How can I do it, rather than what can I do. And the sad part of it is anyone, almost, can tell us what we can or should do but not how we can do it.

17 May 1957

17 May 1957

How about a piece about people who are certain they know all the answers – they are always “right” and know exactly what’s what! Ethel Thompson. (There is only one way of looking at anything you never question the old “wisdoms”)?

Blanche’s comment: When you get a straight-laced person in a conversation with an impulsive one – the sparks are bound to fly.

Also: Articles following out the “perverted proverbs”. Take a proverb and fit it into modern situation: i.e. “Early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.”

What happens to the man on the third shift? The business salesman entertaining customers into the wee hours?

Follow the thought through until the perversion becomes as ridiculous as it must, placed in the present day concepts.

Look up Ben Franklin’s Proverbs for ideas.

Maybe an American Weekly article.

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  1. The home is no longer the stronghold of family influence.
  2. In our child centered society parents should be seen, scolded, and not heard.
  3. The old family strengths are expected of parents in a society where the family influences have given way to communication, transportation, and crowded community contacts – what can a parent do?
  4. The kids staying at Mrs. Hartig’s:
    1. Have no inner resources, no hobbies, nothing to draw on from inner resources.
    2. What is for them to do but hang around beer joints and bang up cars?
  5. Material has replaced inner satisfactions – money and possessions, however, bring no satisfactions!
  6. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing – you are denied the pleasure of knowing something you are interested in thoroughly. There is always a guilty feeling lurking behind you calling you a fake – pretending to be what you are not – receiving credit which you know you do not deserve.
  7. Fateca [?] – teachers hold back – make things look bad.
  8. Books on writing tell you the road to success is hard work – but don’t tell you exactly where the effort and hard work [that] is necessary for success lies.
  9. Billy’s math speech before the faculty: When Steigerwald commented: “A fine speech Bill, now confidentially, just what were you saying?” Billy answered: “Now what makes you so sure I know what I was talking about?”

3 May 1957

3 May 1957

Saw Barrie’s “Dear Brutus” last night at Eldred Hall in the company of Elsa Storey and Evelyn Kimmens. Kurt took both of them home. Charles [Kimmens] was graduating with a touch of fuss from a couple months instruction on new machines at Republic Steel’s classes for employees and couldn’t see the play.

Madam Grundy – we give service to you – you are not dead! You are the polite “should” or “ought to” – you are the mouthing politenesses people feel they should utter. Lip service needs to be paid you, but then you can be properly dismissed and the business at hand can then continue. Elsa said, when I commented to the effect we would take her home: “Oh! You do not need to do that. It will be out of the way for you!” (Did you hear Madam Grundy?)

And I acknowledged you [i.e. Madam Grundy], too.

I said: “Yes, we do not need to and it will be a dreadful five minutes out of the way, but we will take you home! Where are you parked, Kurt?”

Madam Grundy – you sure insist on not staying dead. Always, always – lip service to Madam Grundy before one can go about whatever what is going to do anyway – you always demand your pinch of salt, you old bag!

In this case homage was over in a moment. Golly! With Eva [it] takes so darn much wasted time before I can get down to business!! Madam Grundy you are sometimes a time-wasting problem!! And then there are those who use your skirts to get away with not doing what really could be done. Shirkers use your skirts to get away with selfishness of their own!!

You fraud; you old fraud. You are a pest!

Now that I have abused you, I must admit there is still some value in your old bones. Eventually you turn your spotlight quite clearly on the shirkers who hang behind your skirts. When they too openly use your skirts, you expose them as individuals.

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Educational opportunities for women are geared to making them providers, a primarily male function, rather than women.

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Women feel when they are establishing themselves with the prestige status of the economic male, they are successful as women.

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Women point proudly to their achievements in the economic world, but do they have so much to be proud of in this achievement?

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Are women selling themselves a false bill of goods when they measure themselves by male economic standards?

2 May 1957

2 May 1957

With Lydia on drama – she don’t [sic] like it! Especially modern musicals – “Guys and Dolls”. – Movies she likes.

Conformists – who live entirely to the public conscience – don’t have much fun. They live in a narrow world. They cluck over nonconformists to the public will because, underneath, the conformists suspect they are missing something – they are not living their own lives – they are living someone else’s version of what is the proper life. No fun!! Because they are not true to themselves and are trying to live in a narrow tightly bound world untainted by the opinions of 10 other people!

Marge and Roe seemed to want to see South Pacific because everyone wanted to and tickets were scarce – it was a triumph – a badge of social success for them.

How much of their interest was really – how much the sense of difficult-to-attain social distinction?

In certain respects, for the protection of life – we must all conform – but beyond basic essentials of food, shelter, law, . . . life is what you can make of it.

The more interests you have – the more adaptable to society you are – the more knowledge of variety the more you are interested in and, because, interesting. Who wants to see always nothing but the newest in stoves or refrigerators – what a narrow outlook!

The world is full of variety – yet most people see little, almost nothing of it. They are lost in contemplating refrigerators and stoves exclusively, daring not to take their eyes away, for fear the newest model stove will disappear.

1 May 1957

1 May 1957

Talked with Irene Dunkin about club work: P.T.A. beats [jumps the?] gun on Scholarship Fund – The other three P.T.A.s were scooped. They will join or give money as a threesome. Memorial has a clear field.

Mrs. Hartig – Looks over old papers and recalls individuals engendered [sic] by her clippings:

Picture of her date – Army man. The tall German fellow. She ditched him by sending him to the back of Dutch cafe [?] while she scurried home.

The fighter (G.I.) she sent to see whether a light was on at Clayton’s – She beat it into the house.

Yesterday: Kurt thinking I was politely wanting him to have a piece of cake, so I could eat it. I really didn’t want it.

How children’s books have changed: Aunt Roser’s horrible [German] children’s books – and the present day American beauties.

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Religious art in the home of the past – and the present.

Writing’s an art – no one tells you it is a technique starting with grammar and construction. No wonder children scoff at the subject!

Writing is like learning to play an instrument. We would laugh at someone who thought they could play music because they have heard it but hadn’t studied it. Yet because we use and read writing we think we can write. Actually, writing is just as an exacting form of art as the art of playing the piano. Very few people can play by ear. Very few people can write simply by using the language or reading.

We eat a cake – we know it as such – we know roughly it takes flour, butter, eggs, and baking soda. But! In what measurements? To get certain results?

My recipe book – Each cook varies her basic recipes. It is the slight change that makes a particular dish. Exact instructions make the difference.

Mrs. Hartig’s best soup.

My keeping a special notebook of personalized recipes for my daughter.

Miss Dennis’ sister’s marriage and the recipe collections she made. Your favorite recipe, please, to help my sister get started!

Occasionally recipes need no change.

My lemon pie – cherry pie. Family preferences and my own preferences.

My mother’s reluctance to share recipes.

Mrs. Glover’s friend’s sister who would not share truthful recipes. It wasn’t until she left the country did she give her own sister her accurate recipes.

My talk with Mrs. Murzon – about her will. She did not know whether there actually is a will, or what is in it.

People labor under the assumption of what people say.

Mr. Murzon’s father: Sold his son his house cheap – got mad at him. Had envelopes of money for each child.

Estate settling can bring out the worst in humanity, emotions like I was the oldest – I did the most – my father said this – my mother said that – why  did my brother have to go to court?

The house was his – the money was all out [?] of the bank.

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The outward expression of our economic life: Newspapers, magazines, books, T.V. – Do they really touch on what makes man think and do an action – Or does man think at all?

30 April 1957

30 April 1957 (What I have talked about with people)

1. Gas Co. put in pipe lines – our neighbors cannot wait until the contractor puts in the lawns. They are impatient, cannot stand to let the ground settle – wives (Mrs. Groan forces Mr. Groan to dig up grass.)

a. Women are tyrants?
b. What chance has a man when a woman makes up her mind?
c. Women always get their way.
d. What chance has a man against a determined woman, even though she is wrong! Mr. Groan submits to putting in the lawn – can’t wait for contractor – spend three days putting in lawn (because neighbors did). Rain causes ground to fall into holes.

Moral: Women should learn more patience.

− Women are unreasonable
− You can’t argue with a determined woman; you just don’t have a chance!

Mrs. Groan’s argument will be: “Well, at least it looked better during the time we were waiting for a contractor.”

Women are perfectionists.

26 February 1957

26 February 1957 [Notes from a Collinwood HS P.T.A. meeting?]

Schneider [sp? – Oscar J. Schneider was CHS school principal]:  Schools are for education & nothing else.

Get back at him!

Parents get report cards.

1) Clean & fittingly groomed kind of clothes – teenagers – blue jeans – party clothes are out.

2) School offers best opportunity for learning & team work. Socializing agency. Work & play with each other starts from the home. Making opportunities: to play his daughter back yard [?].

3) Good manners – more than form – simply kindness & consideration of others.

Excuse me is little good manners when you’ve knocked a person down. Better not to knock him down in the first place.

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4) Restraint – self restraint must be balanced by self discipline.

We need policeman because people have learned nothing of self restraint.

5) Respect for authority – should be taught by parents. Primary rules of behavior.

Policeman shoved [?] at ball games. Schneider [?] feels a sad commentary.

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6) Saturday Movies: coed lines at [?] Mental, emotional stability.

The child hardest to love is the one who needs it the most.
Policeman calls to tell about the Buick – Father asks, “Is my car damaged?”

7) Parental harmony – Nothing is so damaging as quarreling, fighting, fussing, nagging.

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Children have come to school and attempted suicide because of nagging homes & bickering.

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She said she was not a D.P. or a displaced person – She was legal!
Budapest – is beautiful. Between Danube – Buda – Pest.
Many universities – music and drinks.

She sings a song.

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Three blind mice. & [John J.] Pokorny spoke. Coordinator of Civil Defense, Cuyahoga County.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki 1945 – 12 years ago.
Russia 1950 had weapon. Civil Defense Law [obscure word] on state gov.

We are tired of wars – disasters – but must be realistic # prepared. Mayors and governors. U.S. Gov. – partner rather than a coach in Civil Defense. 20 M tons of TNT. 7 or 8 miles destroyed. Fallout. Radioactive fallout. Radar screens. VS shelters.

Concept of C.D. must change. Shelter and funds. Cities – 33. 60M people. 100 per person. Radio active fault [sic] – be where the bomb isn’t.

Radar – reinforce outer perimeter. C.D. Minimum levels and property. How much research is being done on effects of Radioactive fallout? How effective are other perimeter or radar screens?

25 January 1957

25 January 1957

[Note: In the notebooks, this is dated as if it were a continuation of 24 January 1957. It may be, but it seems somewhat more likely that it was written on the following day and simply mis-dated.]

In a way, church teachings as practiced in various houses of religion, since religion is the melting pot of human spiritual beliefs and indicated, expected practices, is the cell from which emanates the greatest possibilities of improvement and change. Religion is the thought symbol, mirror, and reflection of man’s unseen spiritual and material progress and growth. From religion is radiated the influences and impressions on all the liberal arts and sciences. Religion is a two-faced coin. Upon it, if you look upon it as a solid substance, is concentrated the findings of the factual sciences. There has always been, however, a delayed reaction. First facts, then a slow, sometimes ricocheting attack on religious centers of learning.

Then, at times, almost a forced acceptance of facts by religious teachers; at last a spreading of factual knowledge to the man in the street. Religious teachers, knowing the role they play, have often jealously guarded their role; appearing at times like witch doctors, medicine men, or dragons of the status quo, often vainly playing up their role of disseminators. (To scatter abroad like seed; propagate; diffuse).

Religious teachers as a whole species, having no particular factual genius of their own insofar as new truths, material or otherwise, are concerned too often jealously guard their ineptitude. They, in obtaining new facts, desperately attempt to keep the status quo of all creative knowledge (the last of which they have just repeated as the final truths), which are in danger of being upset by new creative facts. New dangers are constantly causing them to spew about Death and the Devil, Hell and Destruction.

They are often the storybook dragons guarding the status quo, the medicine men, the witch doctors, the magicians of human society. Always on the alert, they take their magic-like stands very seriously, making certain nothing filters into their brew which does not enhance their powers. They give up their secret accumulated news quite reluctantly. If the news seems to be of great consequence, possibly challenging their positions of power, they may even let truth stand bleeding at the door – Galileo, Copernicus –  But they never want to disclose the tricks of their trade. They even hide their tricks from themselves. It isn’t until they are forced to, that new facts are, with their approbation, sold openly in the marketplaces and the many, many temples throughout our world.

Religious teachers, with their ears cocked to every human doorway and garbage can, are the great accumulators and disseminators; the Dragon like guardians of the “faith”. Like guardians of the faith they are they see all – they hear all – they are supposed to tell all!

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But, the printed and spoken word of the modern communication systems is giving them a hell of a run for their money.

P.S. Eventually life itself will be the great teacher – and that is as it should be.

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Never a liar or storyteller be, except in the case of an emergency. The truth is always the best way. Even stories can tell the truth.

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It does not have to be crucifixion, it could be a coronation – Each man a king, living in his own spiritual, creative castle – guardian of his own creativity, guardian of his own moral concepts.

He is anyway. All he has to do is recognize it.

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There is only one word and that word and that law emanates from the Creative Designer of all things.

When the label “intelligent” is tacked on a person, what is meant is an individual who is curious and interested in some activity or knowledge. How “intelligent” a person is depends on how curious he is, and how well and how deeply he absorbs the gleanings of his curiosity.

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Paul Townsend, if he is a widower or a bachelor, could be a good match for Blanche Schwartz. They could kill each other or cure each other but they would have a lot of things in common.

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I got kind of a lesson I’m working on called the “theory and application of a full life: – release of potentials of power to,” a scientist might call it.

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What may help the “spiritual” 20th century man is to give him an accurate appraisal, not of the queer eccentrics in their midst, but of themselves – what prompts or contains them as individuals trying to function as a “whole” person in a world of things and other people, – mostly other people for the time being. “Things,” have been and are getting the full treatment. The social behavior of the Human Race is almost embryonic, it’s so out of date. Practically – not in quality but in quantity. Come to think of it, what I’m saying is social behavior is out of date in the road signs pertaining to quality. There is plenty of quantity.

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Dictionary definition of eccentric: not in the center; peculiar in manner or character, as, and eccentric person; erratic; irregular; not having the same center; a circle or sphere not having the same center as another circle.

Cheer-up write! You show signs of becoming one of the normals but there are plenty of “eccentrics” around you can talk to, not as a psychiatrist but as a writer. Who knows, maybe if you are good enough you can earn some of the good things in life while you’re “writing-talking” to them. It could be built up into a good business.

This is brought on by some more damn dictionary jazz: Synonym for eccentric: adj. irregular, singular, odd, abnormal, peculiar, strange. Antonym: (see regular, ordinary).

Billy said to me this morning, after a discussion about my careless housekeeping, and my absorption in my notebook, “If you were a millionaire you could afford to be eccentric.”

I said, “I don’t know about that.”

Einstein was not a millionaire, still people accepted his eccentricity.

Maybe if the wheel turns right I can hire a maid with my earnings as an eccentric writer writing for other eccentrics. If I make money at my writings, I can have a house cleaned by a maid and continue my writing without being necessarily a millionaire or an Einstein! A successful businesswoman on my own terms; doing what my husband wants me to do; doing what I want to do; doing what my children want me to do; and the story can be a story with a very happy ending.

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The stock market can be an extracurricular hobby to my regular hobby of writing.

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Now, I better get back to my house work or Billy will begin to think I didn’t hear a single thing he said this morning.

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It isn’t that I don’t care what my family thinks, I just have trouble calling all my shots. It’s all a question of individual and collective values. The wheel doesn’t always turn just the way we want it to turn. Therefore, all verdicts or judgments must be preceded by proper appraisal, if we would extol the highest virtues.

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Perfection leads us to and leaves us at – “dead center”. It isn’t winning that counts so much – it’s playing the game. Although, most of us don’t believe it.

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There is nothing wrong with religion, but there is plenty wrong with how it is taught, by whom, what is taught, and in what manner.