I've blogged before about the Prussian method of schooling and Woodrow Fucking Wilson and the other plutocratic oligarchs that set about beating the seeds of intellect out of our youth in an institutional and systemic manner. I'm not going to recap all of that, but I was drawn to the subject again this week when I read this article.
It's been chapping my ass for more than a little while, how we embrace idiocy. Larry the Cable Guy, American Gladiators, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? (5th?) I've ranted about that too. I trudge on, surely being seen as an elitist because I have mastered subject / verb agreements. Perhaps I'm even thought to be... French! Zut Alors! And have you seen the statistics about reading? I mean, as in the numbers of grown people (as a percentage) who did not read a fucking book last year? Not one. Zero. Yeah. Holy fuck!
I also remember when I first went to college (a Jesuit university of some renown that would probably not want any affiliation with a godless heathen such as me) it was HARD WORK. You know- like with studying and making an effort and shit? That was in the mid-80's. I went back to school, admittedly at a puppy mill of higher education, and was not required to be awake. I know I didn't get that much smarter- the bar has been lowered.
We're taking our pathetic behavior all the way to the cradle now. Baby Einstein videos. [As an aside, Orwell would REALLY be enjoying our "newspeak"- Peacekeeper missiles, Clean Air Act, etc.] Kids don't want knowledge or even drugs these days- they want a goddamned Xbox or PlayStation.
This quote from the linked article caught my eye: "Sure, parents may see their "vibrant and active children gazing silently, mouths agape, at the screen." But these zombie-like characteristics "are not signs of mental atrophy. They're signs of focus." Assuming that bullshit spin has even a shred of merit, what good is focus if you are totally in the fucking dark?
For the benefit of those among us who went to public school, I'll mention a parallel. Almost 100 years ago now, there was a revolution in Russia. The Bolsheviks, distrustful of anyone affiliated with the Czar, and not especially enlightened, slaughtered or sent to gulags all the "elites". Anyone who spoke French was removed, as well as academics (although this may be a matched set, as there were few academic treatises written first in Russian). The result? An effective 'dark ages', wherein many or most of the scientific advances seen in Russia were imported from allies, or after the start of the cold war, stolen from enemies. Also worth noting- as many as 40 million people died under the tenure of Stalin. He made Hitler look like an amateur.
I'm thinking more and more about emigrating. I'm unaware of any empire (and let's not kid ourselves- the US is an empire where it really counts- in economics) that was able to reverse a decline once begun. I don't hold out much hope for this place, and I want a good life for my family. Maybe even something radical like Habeas Corpus, or freedom of assembly.