June 01, 2006

When You've Got A Lot of Time on Your Hands...

You think a whole lot. Since my injury, I've had a lot of time. So here's what has been on my mind: What the hell is wrong with Americans?

My answer: The current education system doesn't teach people to think for themselves, and therefore, question authority.

It's pretty simple actually. When you go to school, pre-school on up thru high school, the system is designed to pour as much stuff into your head so you can pass a battery of tests. Algebra, chemistry, English lit., typing... But the first, they have to teach you the real basics: sitting Indian style in neat little rows, how to play Heads-Up-Seven-Up, how to raise your hand before speaking, the Pledge, getting a bathroom pass before taking off for the shitter... I think you get the drift. It's an indoctrination of sorts. Don't speak unless the guy in charge lets you. Do what you're told. Questions aren't allowed unless the guy in charge says he'll take questions.

It seems harmless enough, but in the end it creates dull, homogenized folks who don't question authority, and don't ever wonder if 2+2 really equals 4. They accept what they read and hear as the absolute gospel. Maybe that's why I take it so personally when journalists abdicate their responsibilities.

I remember my first English class in college. We had a football player in our class. He was assigned to our critique group for an assignment. When I read his essay, I nearly fell out. This guy could barely spell his own name, and forget about a thesis statement. He had no clue. That was my first wake-up call that people were stupid. It wasn't my last. By the time I got out of law school, I was forced to acknowledge that most people just regurgitate information spoonfed to them. I had to relearn my study habits along the way because I had the same training they did. I never looked further in my subject of the moment. I just memorized what I needed for a test. Thankfully, the way I think has become more complex out of sheer will and a little necessity, but that's not so for other people.

They see something once in a soundbite type shot on the news and it's stuck in their head for eternity. They make death threats against musicians for recording songs questioning our government. Why? Because the indoctrination stuck. Making fun of the teacher or upsetting class might end up with detention for everyone. The prospect of not having someone or something dictate their thoughts and beliefs is scary since they may have to be responsble for themselves. It's easier to leave it someone else. Then if things don't go well it's his or her fault. hence- attorneys and why we're so hated.

In a nutshell: Stupid people fear responsiblity and shy away from it at all costs. Those who can be stupid on occasion try their best to avoid it but deal with it when it comes along. Smart people hire someone else to deal with it or create products for everyone else to use in avoiding responsibility.

I wish I had invented the TV.......


Blogger Emptyman said...

And now we have the federal government moving into what had traditionally been state territory, mandating an education system that does nothing but teach to the test. You just thought your public education was a question of regurgitating information on command. Every single class now is geared around performing well on a standardized test. If it's not on the test, they don't teach it. If it is on the test, your job is simply to memorize it long enough to pass the test.

10:38 AM  
Blogger The Raving Badger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:09 PM  
Blogger The Raving Badger said...

I understand how primary/high school education changed, but at the college level, too??? We have entire generations that are taught only to follow, not lead- not think for themselves. That's awful and will IMHO ultimately lead to the decline of our culture. We've already allowed the conservatives to destroy the arts, now academia too??? Why? Just so no one disagrees with them and follows lockstep and all?

3:10 PM  

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