Wednesday, May 5, 2010

FLG Is Constantly Astonished the things his college educated coworkers don't know. He was thinking about this and the Downfall of Education.

We have this perception that things were better made in the past. They don't make things like they used to, and all that. Something very similar applies to education. Education was better previously.

Well, part of what informs our perception about things being better made in the past is that only the better made stuff is still with us. So, the only vintage clothes that are still kicking around are the well-made pieces. The poorly-made stuff fell apart and probably sitting in some landfill.

Maybe the same can be said for education. Maybe the vast majority of people, even to those whom it was offered, weren't very well-educated. Maybe we only hear stories about the smart, determined, ambitious, and well-educated. Maybe the person with only a high school education from three or four generations back who is very knowledgeable about all manner of things that our current high school students aren't would've been the type to succeed in college, but the opportunity wasn't available to them. Maybe they gained wisdom and knowledge with age and it has nothing at all to do with their high school education from half a century or more ago. Maybe education is better than ever, but the expansion of it to larger and larger sections of the public, who perhaps are less well-prepared or less able, has made it appear worse. Maybe analyzing high school and undergraduate programs based on their success in preparing students for grad school is entirely off-base. Maybe learning Greek and Latin is a complete waste of time for all but the most able and ambitious students. Maybe we should simply focus and accept the more manageable goal of teaching the vast majority of our children how to read, write, and speak with a modicum of style, how to perform basic calculations, some basics about history and art, and some science. Maybe that ought to be enough and we leave the more rigorous educations to those who choose it. Maybe expecting schools to prepare all students for lives of the mind is foolish.


Anonymous said...

You might like this:

The pride of Syracuse University [Contessa Brewer, anchor MSNBC ] is, in fact, the perfect avatar of her generation, her head so stuffed full of political correctness that she literally cannot think any other way. Instead of taking a set of facts — oh, just for laughs, let’s say an attempted car-bombing in Times Square — and coming to a logical working hypothesis — probably Muslim terrorists, with whom we are still at war — la Contessa immediately goes to the PC well, and comes up with this gem. Let the hilarity ensue:

Mrs. P

Withywindle said...

The question is, where was Harry Truman in relation to his high-school educated peers, and to the country at large? I suspect there were millions of Harry Trumans a century ago; far fewer today.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't appear to be satire. It seems time well spent in college is spent with The Super Mario Bros.

"A Scholarly Critique of the Style, Symbolism and Sociopolitical Relevance of Gilligan's Island

"Great works of literature often attempt to confront us with the obvious in such a way as to call the inevitable into question. Some strive to explain through metaphor that which is too complex or too abstract to state literally. Other forms seek only to capture some moment in time so that future generations may experience and learn from what has gone before them.

"All of these qualities are ambitiously gathered in Sherwood Schwartz's masterwork, "Gilligan's Island." Through a thin veil of canned laughter, unpretentious slap-stick, and inexpensive production the complete modern sociopolitical predicament is brought to the light of day.

"The island symbolizes society -- any modern western society. It presents a canvas for painting all of the issues of the latest, greatest countries.[...]

"The Skipper represents official government. His authority stems not so much from democratic election as from the traditional role and powers of a ship's captain. This historical precedent seems to convey his right to leadership more than any personal characteristics or qualifications.[..big snip..] Skipper and Gilligan as government vow to keep everyone fed, comfortable and safe. They are awkwardly reliant on one another and hilariously inept except in those cases where they pose a real hazard to the safety and well-being of those around them -- which is all too often the case.

"The Howell's symbolize big business. Thurston and Lovey are indeed rich, but neither seem to possess any appreciable skill. They earned their wealth the oldest-fashioned way -- they inherited it. They are delusional, conniving, greedy, and corrupt. They would be ultimately doomed to failure if ever presented with the challenges and constraints of the real world or if they were merely called upon to compensate for their personal excesses.

"Even though their monetary wealth is completely without value on the island, all of the castaways continue to treat the Howell's as if they were royalty. Most perplexing is the fact that, for no apparent reason, Gilligan attends to their every need and whim. With no evident remuneration, Gilligan bathes these "haves" with surpluses purchased at the expense of the "have nots."

"Again tradition seems to be the reason. As if their "ancestral wealth" gives them some right to their exalted stations in life. The only other plausible explanation is extortion. Strictly by chance, the Howell's wholly own what is thought to be the most valuable and irreplaceable asset on the island -- the radio.

"The radio is a permanent fixation for the islanders. It is almost exclusively entrusted to "the Professor" who, of course, exemplifies science and academia. The Professor is highly educated and capable of amazing feats especially given the sparse raw materials and tooling available. [...]

"However, much like Gilligan, the Professor displays grand incompetence in some crucial areas. He seems oblivious to the constant flirtations of both Ginger and Mary Ann. He preoccupies much of his time with endeavors that can be of little or no value to anyone. The most glaring area of failure is that the Professor is unable to repair the boat. With all of his extraordinary capabilities it is indeed a great misfortune that he does not even seem to be interested in the boat.

"Mysteriously more complex than the Professor is the Ginger character. Blatantly her representation is that of sex-symbol..."

Mrs. P

Anonymous said...

Oh totally forgot the best bit - got that from Fight The Bias website. Thanks to Joe Carter.

Mrs. P

Alpheus said...

I'm still buying into the theory that the castaways on Gilligan's Island all represent deadly sins: Skipper-Wrath; Gilligan-Sloth; Mr. Howell-Avarice; Mrs. Howell-Gluttony; Ginger-Lust; Professor-Pride; Mary Ann-Envy.

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