Friday, October 29, 2010

Maybe I/m Against Humans.

(A repsponse to Miguel Guhlin and too many other well-meaning writers.).

Being neither rich nor powerful, I’m unqualified to comment on ‘empowering’ vs. ‘domesticating’ education…wait, I did redesign the world’s most complex (and powerful) sensor-processor-effector system…at age 23. What the heck, my one cent:

We are ‘creativity’-ing ourselves down the path of the Roman Empire. We are a nation where it’s not important to walk from your touchdown to thank your blockers and focus ahead; it’s how creative a dance you do in the end zone. (Yes, those athletes are conditioned, but which part do the children see every week?). Now it’s to be unimportant to master math and logic, as long as we “create stuff”, no matter how distracting that might be.

Like the Roman citizens who grew bored with engineering and democracy and military art, turning instead to circuses and outdoing each other in bad poetry, we ‘create’ 500 bland television programs per hour, 24/365.

We build 14,000 ‘apps’ on top of Twitter alone. 250,000 for the iPhone. Every minute we upload another 24 hours of video to YouTube.

What do we know of the world? Our place in it? How many readers here know the fundamental difference between Shia and Sunni? Can describe the Iraqi and Afghan borders? Know the difference between a battalion and a brigade? Can guess the percentage of a school’s budget spent on personnel? Know—really know—why  Washington was considered the “Father of our Country’? Understand why we don’t use much of the oil lying under our feet?

We need people who are productive and dependable. Especially when they are young and still learning what it is to be an adult, let alone lead adults. We need people who can care for the elderly and do repetitive research on sickle-cell anemia. We need people who will plant the seed each spring and gather the harvest each fall to feed a malnourished world.

We are, by the way, not as poor or unpowerful as you might think. Barack Obama is slave to his staff, cabinet, guards, and politicos. We have evenings and weekends free, can learn whatever we like, volunteer if we like to build parks, sing, deliver meals, guide youth groups, gather in spiritual need, organize a festival, build a business, golf, run.

There is, true, slavery in having a family at eighteen or twenty when you have no skill or education. And there’s the rub because you will not have time to read to your children, speak with them, sing to them. And they too will not learn, will head to slavery. Unless great teachers intervene.

Great teachers don’t teach you to be dangerous. All those dangerous people—they’re the ones keeping the sub-par teachers in place, distracting funds and resources from those in need, muddling the debate, spreading false economics, electing status-quo leaders. The useful idiots gathering at G-20 meetings to protest…well, to protest something, they have no idea what.

Great teachers don’t teacher you to be creative because no one is creative standing alone. All build on the shoulders of giants. It’s getting harder to learn everything the giants have given us. To be truly powerful you must master accounting and capital asset modeling and something of proteomics. Of foreign policy, but also of the difficulties of leading and sustaining a platoon in the field. Of statistics,…and of their limits. Of all the little things it takes to build something in your community.

One ought have time to have gathered intelligence like Sadaam Hussein’s offer of $25,000 to the family of every suicide bomber in Palestine. That 1 in 1200 teachers is delicensed, compared to more like 1 in 100 doctors or lawyers. That churches built most of our universities and hospitals. That the local auto-body shop is funding many of the local scholarships and public activities.

Things all learned over time, while being productive and dependable. While learning mental discipline, logical thought, patient disinterested analytical rigor.

Quadratic formulae, Schrödinger equations, and enantiomeric tranformations are hardly passionless, obsolete areas of study. They are the stuff of stars, of philosophy, of digital and analog empowerment.

Washington, by the way (with von Steuben) transformed a creative, individualistic, and un-dangerous army into a productive, dependable one which could throw off a Despotic King.

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