Must Read! Call It Compulsory Home Education

10 11 2008

Okay, we had our fun with the lipstick, now back to the real world for Thinking Parents, back to The Christmas Carol’s most fearsome child of man, Ignorance:

‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon
them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.

This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both,
and all of their degree — but most of all beware this boy,
for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the
writing be erased. . .”

America the Illiterate — read it now, those of you who can! Then we can talk, and not about how it makes you feee-ee-eel . . .

We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth.

The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection.

This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities.

This is what the public education system was originally conceived to avoid. Yet here we are. I want to think about how we can start to change it.

Huge segments of our population, especially those who live in the embrace of the Christian right and the consumer culture, are completely unmoored from reality. They lack the capacity to search for truth and cope rationally with our mounting social and economic ills. They seek clarity, entertainment and order. They are willing to use force to impose this clarity on others, especially those who do not speak as they speak and think as they think.

All the traditional tools of democracies, including dispassionate scientific and historical truth, facts, news and rational debate, are useless instruments in a world that lacks the capacity to use them.



7 responses

10 11 2008

For example, here’s a SERIOUS think piece in a real newspaper, the kind of analysis I prefer, about Sarah Palin as a politician (now that she’s back in the real world we all share, like it or not) written by someone who is a real journalist the way I was taught to be as a journalism major back in the Woodward and Bernstein era:

Reporter Tom Kizzia has reported on Alaska politics since the 1980s and helped cover Palin’s campaign for governor in 2006.

10 11 2008

Public school education seems to me to be accomplishing just what it has set out to do. Behavior is the most important thing. Compliance. Obedience. A modest amount of knowledge for the few and next to nothing for everyone else. Establishing an orderly day and the way to live it, all hours accounted for and accountable to someone else.

Not sure we can pin problems stemming from this on a failed system so much as a wrong-headed system.


10 11 2008

Right, oops — what I meant by how can we change “it” was how to change this ignorant, dangerous slide of the population’s general thinking and ability to engage in intelligent citizenship, not necessarily to blame or change the school system particularly.

10 11 2008

Figures – Right-wing Media Feeds Its Post-Election Anger.

But there IS hope:

Perhaps Hannity, Limbaugh and the rest of those intent on poisoning the soil before bipartisanship can take root might recall words of wisdom from Brit Hume, a veteran newsman who is close to leaving the Fox anchor desk for semi-retirement.

The problem with the accusations of Obama being “dangerous” and “radical,” Hume said on election night, “was that it just didn’t fit with the man you saw before your eyes.”

10 11 2008
Nance Confer

Is it a slide?

Is it “books are better than computers?”

Is it more people hearing a speech rather than fewer when the speeches were written at a 10th or 12th grade level?

How have literacy rates changed? Let’s see. Well, they’ve improved.

And these are talking about what I think of as functional literacy.

So I don’t think it’s really literacy we are talking about. I think it’s thinking. As in the way ideas could be tackled in school as proposed by Marion Brady —

A starting point anyway. . . or will we be too busy worrying about paying the bills, not being foreclosed on, getting or keeping a job to worry much about frills like thinking skills and, I fear, healthcare.


15 11 2008

I was rereading “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions” last night. After Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, Godwin’s Law all over the place and too many stupid (okay, insane) comments and whole conversations lately, I felt the need to remind myself there ARE people who know what they’re talking about when it comes to human intelligence.

Chapter Eight on Keeping Doors Open is wonderful! Then I fell asleep to Chapter Nine, Why the Mind Gets What It Expects.

15 11 2008

Speaking of all the brainless, mindless wrongheadness in this election cycle, here’s why good thinking should matter to everybody: you wind up beating yourself without it.

Here’s a top ten list of people who helped elected Obama by trying to oppose him, but doing it stupidly.

p.s. Rush and the Fox News crowd aren’t even on the list! 😉

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