jeudi 31 mars 2011


Brilliant comment on the LibraryThing forums(, in line with what I'm reading right now in _How Children Learn_ by John Holt:

With a decent K-12 education system in this country, we wouldn't need translations of either the ancient Greeks or the Romans. They would be our introductions to the humanities. After all, they did create the fundament upon which Western Civilization stands. More importantly they educated those giants who founded this, the greatest nation on earth. But, alas, we are more interested in nerds, educated by modern Gradgrinds with no knowledge of, or interest in, how we should all live together and what their new technological achievements are likely to yield in terms of how well we live together. Today we have people who can read the genetic code, but want to copyright it so they can sell our own natural processes back to us a dollar at a time. No wonder the ill-informed and uneducated are so lost in the modern world. We inhabit a world in which the stoopids are in charge.

I've seen many a utilitarian argument put forward as "modern logical/rational thought" by people unaware that their operating philosophy was tried and disposed of nearly 200 years ago. I think we live in a country in which Jeremy Bentham would be pleased. Just look around. We are like mushrooms. The Oligarchs keep us in the dark and feed us bullshit. That way, I guess, lies universal harmony and happiness. Hah! We are each responsible for our own happiness, in our own way. We don't learn that from a science book, we learn it from Plato, from Aristotle, from Homer, from Sophocles, from Jesus, for Heaven's sake, from the authors of the Mahabarata, from Lao Tzu, from Ovid (with a side of our own helplessness in the hands of fate), from people who observed human behavior and made educated guesses and assumptions about what it meant to be human. Not from people who can nail 2 + 2 = 4, sixteen ways from Sunday. Yet, do we teach our kids from this font of wisdom? No, we teach them in the school of Gradgrind. This makes it nearly impossible for them to think for themselves when confronted with situations where the facts are less important than the circumstances.

Until we stop talking about improving science and math scores as a way of improving "education", I don't want to hear about it. When we decide to educate our kids in subjects such as, "The Meaning of Honor", or "Why Character Counts", or "Greed: The Road to Serfdom" we are never going to be the kind of country we think we wish to be, and the Oligarchs will continue to mine our best minds for the purpose of their own aggrandizement.

Ask a Tea-Partier what an Oligarch is or who they are. That's what makes them so sad. Their hearts are in the right place, but they aren't educated well enough to know when they are being manipulated and used by those who decidedly do not have the average American's well being at heart. We teach our kids how to count beans, but we don't teach them to ask why the beans should be counted and who they belong to. Just count. I'll give you bread and circuses, but you just count. We don't live authentic lives and don't know it. Authenticity and a sense of worthwhile accomplishment lead to happiness, not cheating in every aspect of life. He who dies with the most toys is a loser, a poor sucker who thought he could find happiness in things while missing the essential element that toys only facilitate happiness, they don't in and of themselves create it. Happiness is a quality excavated from deep within, nurtured and brought to bloom through understanding, not things. Science doesn't teach understanding or wisdom, only knowledge. We only arrive at understanding and wisdom through knowing our own humanity. I dare say those Native Americans who lived here ten thousand years ago were just as happy, if not moreso, than we are today. And they made their toys themselves. They knew the value of toys, not much.

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