Thursday, November 12, 2009

We’re The Enemy In Our Own Education

When did we stop championing the Intellectual. The Clever Person. To be Well-Read.

When did we start aspiring to be Mediocre.

Middle of the arbitrary range in our Knowledge. Our learnings, understandings, and intelligence.

How is it that we accept that people finish school not knowing that Canada is a country or where it is? Or even that Africa is a continent and holds 54 countries.

Every person born in Africa… do you know what these countries are? And if not, WHY NOT?

And why do you not want to know? How dare you laugh at Americans not realising where South Africa is, but you do not even know that Guinea-Bissau is a country, and it is in Africa. Or that there is a part of our continent that has no government, it is not an official country, but is contested land, just hanging about. Not Somalia, no. It’s off there to the north-west.

Why do we no longer feel embarrassed when we realise we do not know a basic, and why do we not immediately jump to find out or to ask. We have ever more resources at our disposal, but it seems that the more readily available information is, the more we turn our backs on it.

What do you know and what do you not know about Science, Biology, Geology, Geography, History, Literature, Languages, the Arts, Anthropology, Sociology, Philosophy, Economics, Archaeology, the Classics, Finance, Politics and politics.

Are there really children in the United Kingdom who believe that Auschwitz is a theme park? Or not know why they are celebrating Poppy Day.

Are children in South Africa matriculating without finding out who Paul Kruger, Jan Smuts, and Steve Biko were and why they were instrumental to the country we live in today?

We all get told that the government education in Developed Countries is top-notch. First class. INCREDIBLE. And then you talk to someone who has passed through it who tells you that Dan Brown’s books are “Really really deep, like I could barely get through it”. A fun read, maybe, a book of great classical depth, no.

When a Protestant Child argues with you that Catholics are NOT Christian, they are an opposing religion. “Oh! They’re not Christian! What do you mean that all forms of Christianity grew from Catholicism? You are being sacrilegious!”

This is not an amusing rant. This is an issue that deeply disturbs me. I don’t consider myself to be clued-up enough and often I laugh at even being close to intelligent. I often reckon I am winging it & have managed to surround myself with clever people. But I WANT TO BE clued-up.

And whenever I get ahead of myself, and dare to think I know quite a bit, I read a new type of book and realise how little I know about a subject. I desire to “Know”. Not out of arrogance, but because I was made to believe that a goal in every person’s life is to grow their knowledge & brain. To fight for their education.

This belief & this fight is not because of my privileged background. I have met so many people from less privileged backgrounds who also believe they should always be learning & asking & arguing. But there are so many more people, from all types of backgrounds, who want to eliminate this belief & this fight. By aspiring to be Mediocre and by being antagonistic towards Knowledge.

Rudely shouting down the goals of wanting know more. Thinking about it more. Creating something new; including new thoughts. Isn't THAT what progress is? Creating the new.

This can't be progress? This current mediocrity of thought.

I really believed that university was a hub of knowledge & innovation. But now, university is not about being stimulated intellectually. Just get through it and if you actually retain any data then you’ve been a success. Rather than even achieved the original goals, which are to THINK for yourself, to LEARN how to do your own research, and perhaps, even, come up with your own thoughts on a subject.

When you watch people get top marks in their Masters, but you have never heard them string an original idea together, let alone actually put effort into reading as much as possible on their Masters topic, you get a little sceptical.

Or when you get marked down in an essay for including an original argument.

When did it change from Original Thought to Regurgitation.

When did we become a World of Regurgitation?

You can see it in sitcoms, columns and supposedly-amusing blogs. Where the same lame joke is rehashed into an ever so slightly different context, and we all find it amusing beyond our own existence.

“Oh! It’s so true! Marriage really is like prison! HAHAHAHAHHA! Good one! You’re so witty!!”

“Oh HAHHAHAHA. I am ‘rolling around on the floor laughing’ at that line of yours about Americans being ignorant… forgetting that I actually read it & watched the YouTube clip about 2 months ago”

“Oh, wow, you’re so deep, you mentioned a global political issue in that one sentence in your article there”.

Originality? Creativity? Depth of thought? Ability to twist ideas into something new?

NEVER! Don’t be a NERD!

The Dread of the current 20 to 30 year olds… That label.


PhD students do their best to not discuss anything too indepth, for fear of the dreaded label.

Girls shy away from being caught with a book that is beyond “Chick Lit”… it might mean you are “showing off”.

Never challenge someone on their nonsensical argument. You might sound argumentative. And we all must shy away from arguments.

Your curriculum vitae has too many big words. That will never land you a job. You need to “dumb” it down. Summarise your achievements into fewer lines… they take up too much space and you know how people hate to read too many pages.

Never really discuss what you love about your career. You are just making the mediocre bored. And we all hate to be despised by the crowd. Those very people who champion knowing less, those folk who believe you should get by on as little knowledge as possible, those people who benefit every day from the life-long fight of others to be educated.

Is this post onto 3 pages… oh fuck. Well. Best I end off here. I’d hate to have lost your attention already. After all. Who can concentrate on so many words in one space. Why are there not more pretty regurgitated stock pictures…


po said...

I don't know enough, that is for sure. I want to know more! But I am also so freaking lazy it is a battle.

There are surveys in the UK saying x% of people do not know that eating fat can make you... fat. My dad taught a girl who did not know that meat came from killing animals. She thought it came from factories. This is not funny. This is tragic.

And this is a developed country.

Anonymous said...

Yessssssssiss man...You killed me there "Po"! I hope, for our sake (the people who are always reading and browzing, looking for new things to learn to broaden our ever so inquisitive minds)there aint really people like dat around.I think this whole issue of reading and acquiring info is taught at an early age. I mean I'm a parent of 2 and my gals know that mommy loves gals that know how& love to read(aloud with confidence)and i reward them for this, and I've taught them that knowledge sets you apart from the rest and it will always be your best bet, no matter what.


Champagne Heathen said...

Po - that is tragic. That is just going to get me thinking, pondering & ranting all over again! AGRHGAHRGAHGRh.

Ha, as for the laze, care to join me on the "mental diet". I reckon that once you get the right "reading" habits, you kick the crap that takes up that precious time.

Jet Lee - :) Yup, I fully agree with you! Knowledge & reading. And the more knowledge you have, the less likely you'll be ruled by others!