Monday, February 18, 2008

Education Rant

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.


Blogger Hammer said...

The public schools have been broken for a long time and no amount of money thrown in that direction can solve the endemic apathy of government workers.

The private sector where the customer can put a fire under the school's proverial asses seems the only logical way to get a good education these days.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Hammer said...

About moving, I did some research about what countries might have more human rights and freedom than the US and sadly everyone is going into the toilet these days. I read costa rica might be ok but I'm not sure about the stability of the region.

I wish we could reverse the downward spiral of this place which has turned half nanny state and half fascist police state.

5:46 AM  
Blogger amusing said...

I think the exodus to New Zealand started awhile ago. The tagline I've heard is "It's like the US was in the 50s..."

{psst. Re: private schools? Interesting speechifying on "Boston Legal" about how they have simply become places where kids "do school" and learn the best way to get good grades, not actually learn anything... This is gross generalization, I'm sure, but there's a theme here, along with Irrelephant's bit about his daughter's science project. How many of those are actual parental projects? I refuse to do my son's homework for him, but I often wonder if I'm sending him in to compete with other kids whose parents "fix" theirs up for them....

7:01 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

As an educator, I've got to say that I don't think you're wrong. I'm horrified by what my students DON'T know, and by the enthusiasm with which they REFUSE to work.

Amusing, I don't do my daughters' homework, either. I KNOW that sets them up against students whose parents do their projects for them, but I'm hoping that their teachers will realize that the Chili girls' work is truly their own...

5:41 AM  

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