Saturday, April 02, 2005

Full-contact Education

Saw a link to this article on Holly's Guestbook. Ahhhh, the memories that brings back! I had several thought about this article.

First, it shows that academics are human. While they may enjoy a somewhat elevated persepctive on some aspects of life, they also unfortunately suffer from some of the worst human faults: jealousy, territoriality, and fear. I have always thought that most academics act like this because of their own insecurity. They fear the bright young minds, because they know that they are not as flexible and acute as they used to be. Being upstaged by a student is probably the worst fear that a hide-bound academic could have. So they take steps to insure that their students stay insecure about their own knowledge and opinions and afraid toventure outside the limits of their professor's philosophy.

Second, this is a graphic illustration of the major fault in our educational system. Innovation and free thought are not just discouraged, but actively persecuted. This begins almost at birth, in many instances, and continues all the way through doctoral programs. When I was studying for my BA in English (I always thought is should actually be a BS :-) ), I was lucky enough to encounter a professor who followed a different path. She encouraged students in her class to form and express their own opinions. She would actually mark down essays and papers that just parroted her own views. Her only requirement was that we were required to justify our opinions logically using primary and secondary sources and our own thinking ability. In one quarter, taking "Women in Literature", I think I got as much real education as in the rest of my academic careers combined. Until Graduate School, that is. Librarianship is different in many ways from other disciplines, first among them being the necessity for being able to think, reason, and learn independently.

Third, this essay shows graphically the "herd mentality" that governs most humans. We are far too prone to believe and follow whatever an authority figure says. This leads to such things as Naziism, Jonestown, Heaven's Gate, Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh (remember him?), corporate tax cuts coupled with a $400 billion annual deficit, and an intense belief that our leaders have our best interests at heart. This may be the worst danger facing freedom and real democracy in the world today.

Cynical? You damn betcha! I've spent 48 years in this world, so far, most of them with my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut. Everyone should try this periodically. It can be quite illuminating.

There! In spite of my best intentions, I've managed to piss even more people off.


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