“Tarting Up and Dumbing Down” – More Thinking About Meaning

14 06 2007

So this time, “homeschooling words and concepts” aren’t at issue, the programs and standards being criticized aren’t educational and aren’t for kids, the money at stake is private and public at the same time, and the women being dissed aren’t homeschool moms.

It’s Dan Rather dissing Katie Couric, with all the competitive backstory between them.
Jennifer Pozner at WIMN’s Voices covers it well here and here, where you can watch her pitch-perfect appearance with John Gibson yesterday, and join the discussion yourself if you feel so moved ( Nance and I did.)

I think that makes it a good case study from which thinking parents from all sides of education controversy, can get a little emotional breathing space — maybe enough to consider how important words and meaning are much more complex than dictionary definitions or a lawyer’s fine print, maybe enough to see how personal integrity and intelligence and affiliations and beliefs and self-interest define our different personal narratives, that in turn get all bundled up into competing public power of story (and then boiled down to some stupid poll question.)

There has in fact been some discussion — among women, can you believe it?! — about the dictionary definition of “tart” as a pastry coming before tart as a prostitute, so maybe Rather wasn’t being sexist after all . . . huh? reminds me of the bad old days when dictionary definitions of homeschooling were trotted out to define and delimit our full-spectrum opportunities and imagination.

And btw, please note that all the adults male and female in this public story, are successful professionals using those “soft” people skills from the Diplomas Count report, rather than quadratic equations and fetal pig dissection. 🙂

Maybe some of us will even apply our insights back to education issues?



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