Conversations: Forgotten Tools of Society Series

This article is one of three in a series titled, The Lost Tools of Society which includes Listening, Rhetoric, and Conversations. How did the ancients of old pass on their heritage? How in the world did the Egyptians ever build the pyramids without heavy machinery? How did poets memorize myriads of stanzas? What have we forgotten to teach our children?

A premium is placed today on reading and writing, but not so much with listening and speaking. We see this in our high school education where, typically, students are required to take one speech class and four solid years of English. In the past, people learned by listening and memorizing because there were no ways to mass-produce books. Now, due to catering education to the lowest common denominator and mass-producing education, no one knows how to read or write nor to speak or listen. These are forgotten tools of society. Worldly speaking, these tools are the key to putting your children above the rest. Education is conversation. That is, it used to be.

These days, it is rare to hear of a sixteen-year-old having adult conversations. The problem is NOT with the teens.

Getting Ahead of the Pack

The Pongo Blog lists these five characteristics employers are looking for in a skill set: Leadership, Interpersonal Skills, Problem Solving, Motivation, and being Efficient. Over half of these skills involve the ability to communicate properly. I lump Problem Solving and Efficiency with the ability to communicate due to logic going hand in hand with mastering the skill of language. Learning logic will teach indirectly how to be efficient and problem solve. By simply learning how to speak and listen, this will put an average child above the rest.

In order to speak and listen, one must learn. It does not come naturally, most of the time. When formalized school became more popular, 2,500 years ago, grammar, rhetoric, and logic (Trivium) were learned first in order to teach people how to use language effectively. To be taught in subjects such as arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy, one must first master the Trivium. Because books and scrolls were rare, in order to get by educationally, one had to be good at listening. Now, due to the printing press, books are readily available to the poorest of poor people. These books act as a crutch for students, whereas in the past, it was sink or swim. Students do not know how to listen because they don’t have to. In spite of children not relying on listening today, there are no classes in listening even though it is essential for conversing with one another. In order for a person to be skilled in conversation, he must be skilled in speaking and listening.

Connection through Conversation

Conversation is the most important form of speaking and listening because it creates, sustains, and grows community relations. The ability to converse well, like our ability to reason and think, elevates humans over animals. This ability, given to humans alone, is the most difficult to master out of listening, reading, and writing because conversation includes the ability to carry on the discussion. To dialogue in conversation with other people is one of the greatest joys man can have. Do you want to give your children the ability to experience that level of connectedness to another person? Social Media and “screen time” make it difficult enough for young people to learn how to speak to others. Make what is forgotten remembered, and what is old new again. Teach your children (and yourself if necessary!) the forgotten tools of society.

For Further Discussion:

Forbes with: 13 Simple Ways You Can Have More Meaningful Conversations


The Reformed Conservative aims to reunite gentlemanly virtues with scholarly conversation. Standing in the great Reformed and conservative heritage of thinkers like Edmund Burke and Abraham Kuyper, we humbly seek to inject civility into an informed conversation, one article at a time, bringing clarity out of chaos.

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