The Genocide Of Ideas

The Genocide Of Ideas

The mind of one freethinker can possess a million ideas, the minds of a million fanatics can be possessed by a single idea: - Anon.

 

Interviewed on UK Television the director and former Monty Python Flying Circus member Terry Gilliam said he did not like anything among the recent output from Hollywood. While this made a refreshing change from the usual sycophantic, self regarding babble we hear from Hollywood people, Gilliam's point was had a wider significance that a mere comment on recent movie releases.

 

"I don't know what they are about," he complained, "there is a car chase, a few fights, a threat to civilisation and the hero saves the world." Continuing to critique the formulaic Hollywood blockbuster genre Gilliam said films, books and plays ought to be about ideas.

 

His own work has never been short of ideas, the vision future society portrayed in "Brazil" made in 1985 and now hailed as "prescient" due to so many of its depictions of social breakdown having become reality, is a fine example of how his films tackle abstract theme that ought to be difficult to bring to the screen even for directors with Hollywood blockbuster sized SFX budgets to play with. Gilliam manages to pull off such unlikely fantasies as Brazil, Baron Munchausen and the more recent extravaganza The Imaginarium of Dr.Parnassus on much smaller budgets simply because he understands the philosophical notions his works are vehicles for. Realism and authenticity go out of the window but the images communicate the essence at the heart of surreal fantasies successfully.

 

If novelist Franz Kafka had been an animator and film director and perhaps a member of Monty Python's Flying Circus he might have made films like those of Terry Gilliam. Brazil depicts the kind of outrageously dystopian satire one could easily imagine Kafka creating. Time and again Gilliam captures visually the paranoid-subversive spirit of Kafka's The Trial in this nightmare-comedy about a meek government clerk named Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) in a bureaucratic dictatorship, whose life is destroyed by a simple bug. Not a software bug but a real bug of the same genre perhaps as Kafka's Metamorphosis insect, that gets squashed in a printer and causes a typographical error unjustly identifying an innocent citizen, one Mr Buttle, as suspected terrorist Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro). When Sam becomes involved in unravelling this bureaucratic tangle, he himself winds up labelled as a criminal. The movie presents such an unrelentingly imaginative and savage vision of late 20th-century bureaucracy and it's implacable demands and for conformity and total compliance with myriad trivial and pointless rules and regulations that it almost became a victim of bureaucratically minded studio management itself, until Gilliam surreptitiously screened his cut for the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, who named it the best movie of 1985 and thus coerced Universal into releasing it.

 

But how did Gilliam learn to make such movies? Surely he must have attended some very special school or perhaps at art college been a student of somebody who studied under Salvador Dali or Luis Bunuel. Actually no, he had a standard renaissance education based on the same model as Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, JMW Turner and Thomas Edison. Sometimes known misleadingly as the liberal arts education this model curriculum aims to provide a broad grounding in language, mathematics, natural sciences and culture that will equip the pupil to pursue a variety of interests in later life. The aim of this education method is to produce well rounded individuals by encouraging pupils to learn by themselves rather that force feeding a diet of dry facts and forcing curious, lively young minds to specialise at far too early a stage in their development.

 

One of the reasons why education has "dumbed down so much over recent decades is that the shroud of a giant central bureaucracy rests heavily on the minds of pupils and teachers alike, imposing dull conformity, obsessing over targets, statistics and league tables instead of teaching.

 

As an information technology manager I used to notice the marked difference between young people who came to us from private schools or areas in which the local authority had retained some independence and still operated a selection at eleven policy, and those from areas whose schools operated the standard state education curriculum. Sending the pupils with a more abstract mindset (not necessarily the brightest ones,) into a system in which they would receive that broad education and benefit from it, seemed to work.  The people who came from private schools were gobby, confident, sometimes a pain in the arse, the ones from select schools were confident but not as arrogant and often were in love with learning, glad of for the privilege of being able to ask experts in a field about developing software, managing data and operating networks in my department, in others about engineering, business administration, design, research and development and a range range far beyond the designated field of practical inquiry governed by the the need to pass an impending test. The ordinary state school pupils were more usually sullen, resentful, liable to go missing for whole days, and at first generally disinterested. Many changed once out of the full - time education environment, largely because when they asked why they must do something, it would be explained rather than their being told, "Because the curriculum says you must."

 

Now defenders of the state system might say that the pupils I found rewarding enjoyed comfortable homes and a high standard of living provided by affluent parents at all times, had access to books and the Internet, and benefited from the latest technology to assist them in pursuing their studies.

 

At the same time those from poor homes had heard left wing politicians talking about how the system was failing people in poor areas, how much more money needed to be spent on schools, and all the usual excuses for the failure of progressive education. Eventually the old mantra of the left satirised by Steven Sondheim in West Side Story with the line "I'm depraved because I'm deprived," became reality.

 

But did the children from poorer homes not feel an even greater incentive to learn and so increase their chances of getting out of the poverty trap. Alas it was not so. They had no introduction to stimulating ideas you see, their education, with it's heavy emphasis on , equal rights, social justice and other irrelevancies had inculcated dependency on the state and the authorities. It had been drummed into them that individual enterprise was somehow to be frowned on. They had learned we are not being fair and egalitarian if we have ambition.

 

Another thing I noted, to get back to Terry Gilliam's point is that in their literary studies, the privately educated pupils had been introduced to the classics, were familiar with Chaucer and Milton, could discuss religions and ethics critically and usually had an understanding of our intellectual history, incorporating the wisdom and intelligence of the larger culture that ultimately sustains us, the world in which we live and which so many are encouraged to take for granted. This caveat applies to members of the teaching profession which has largely surrendered to the idiotic notion of student “empowerment” and other politically correct notions as a way of maintaining the status quo. By failing to teach ways of learning so that rather than being the stock - in trade of the education system, learning becomes a lifelong process and pupils continue to develop as individuals after leaving full time education. As the brilliant Frank Zappa once said, "If you want to get laid, go to college; if you want an education go to the library. 

 

As well as upholding a system that is simultaneously busy undermining social structures, personal independence, intellectual rigor, and the quest for determinate truth, pedagogical rationale inculcated by teachers and lecturers is passed off as “social justice” and “postmodern indeterminacy,” but is really encouraging solipsism. Academics who advise government on education policy tend to be regarded as “experts in the field,” but as Primo Levi said in' The Monkey’s Wrench,' “I never saw an expert who was any good.”

 

It is worth mentioning that the set reading on the school literature curriculum now shows a strong left wing bias. Novels about racism, trade union struggles against the evils of capitalism, turgid feminist tomes, books about disability and a whole library of stories about poverty and oppression abound. There is nothing there to present a broader picture of human life, to suggest that other points of view may be valid.

 

Educationalists, and the teachers lower down the pecking order do not understand the private education sector cannot provide enough highly educated people to keep a modern society running not can those people contribute enough in taxes to support the great uneducated mass who have been given only one idea, that they should never have to do anything they do not want to do, to steer them through life.

 

The bond between teacher and student has completely unravelled. The unwritten covenant between the participants in the noble game of intellectual discourse has been superseded by a mutual understanding that the life of a "disadvantaged person" should by right be based on the instant gratification of impulses and that to try to offer another way based on self discipline and personal responsibility is a violation of human rights. The teacher has to assume the role of surrogate parent, counsellor, therapist and nursemaid to classes of unwilling, disruptive and easily distracted who "know their rights" but little else.

 

This malaise extends into the university system. Few graduates emerge without having their heads fill with Marxism - lite ideology while employers are complaining that degree studies are so dumbed down they no longer offer an advantage in the jobs market. With occupations such as writing, acting or film making now being degree entry professions is it any wonder Terry Gilliam complains of a dearth of ideas. Experience has been replaced by indoctrination. What we are seeing is the paranoia of the new elite in action. Having emerged as a new social class the managerial and public sector professions now fear losing the control they have established. Knowing their ancestors struggled out of poverty and drudgery only two or three generations ago they now fear the descendants of those who were left behind.

 

As technology puts the squeeze on skilled jobs and globalisation means the labouring classes are priced out of the market, the professional and managerial classes are eliminating the competition through supporting state education policies that dumb down the children of those who cannot afford to go private. In the 1950s and 60s, when I was growing up, there was far more social mobility, more opportunity for people from the lower levels of society to improve their lot, than there is now, in spite of all the politically correct blabber about fairness and equality. And ideas were traded freely, developed, personalised and cherished.


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Comments

Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jun 3, 2017 - 1:46pm
Ian
 
Thanks for mentioning Terry Gilliam. We Europeans are generally big fans from Flying Circus to the life of Brian.
 
To me, the best Englishman is undoubtedly the American John Cleese LOL
 
Try his silly walk once in public today. You get a free room and meals for unlimited time in a mental ward LOL
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jun 3, 2017 - 1:47pm
BTW: Of course I completely agree on his statements.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jun 3, 2017 - 1:48pm
BTW2: Dumbing down is agenda. I'm sure Steve Jobs knew about that....
Ian Thorpe Added Jun 3, 2017 - 1:59pm
"We Europeans?" You've already kicked us Brits out of Europe then? LOL
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jun 3, 2017 - 2:11pm
Well.....since I'm Swiss that question is obsolete LOL
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jun 3, 2017 - 2:15pm
BTW: You've done good by quitting. Now don't make the mistake to take that "special relationship" to the US too seriously anymore. We Europeans from Greece to Island have to stick together. In any respect. Let the US, the Russians and the Chinese fight for themselves LOL
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jun 3, 2017 - 2:15pm
Iceland, sorry. German sneaking in ;-)
Dino Manalis Added Jun 3, 2017 - 2:34pm
Ideas are always needed, that's why freedom of speech should be protected and civil to discuss and find solutions.
Ian Thorpe Added Jun 3, 2017 - 2:35pm
SEF, three comments, I'm honoured. Re top one - the world has become a more humourless place in the past twenty years (can't wait to see what angry comments on this will come in from the usual suspects further down the thread.) Britain was sillier in the 1960s and 70s, even into the 80s. If anyone did a silly walk in public now they'd be told it was insulting disabled people and accused of hate crime.
With some friends I once crawled very slowly from from a statue of Queen Victoria to the ladies toilet in Picadilly Gardens, Manchester, with women's shoes on my hands. Each step, one of mt friends would put fresh whitewash on the soles of the shoes, down the steps, and then back again.
Can't do that now of course, cameras everywhere and where I got a small fine back then (a cop caught us just as we were finishing - he was very amused but had to arrest us), we'd probably get put in jail for vandalism now. Bankers can steal millions, politicians can betray trust, but jokers are public enemies.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jun 3, 2017 - 2:42pm
Ian
 
Exactly !! You see I'm a big fan of Brit black humour. Just watched Death at a Funeral the other day and cracked up again :-)
 
The Germans have a bland humour, the US a quite childish one (take out people like George Carlin), the French have none to my knowledge, they're busy eating and chasing the next f...., and Scandinavians just nod at jokes LOL
 
I just downloaded the whole 30GB collection from Faulty Towers to Waiting for God and will have a good time in the next weeks :-)
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jun 3, 2017 - 2:45pm
BTW: We had a gang here 3 years ago where we wrote nonsense articles as well. But as you say: Gloomier times have come, and complaining has replaced laughter. Well, I'm not excluded ;-)
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jun 3, 2017 - 3:28pm
I fled to a traditional society where values and respect are cherished, to avoid group think
 
Why does that sound familiar ? ;-)
Jeff Jackson Added Jun 3, 2017 - 4:29pm
Ian, as an educator, I would love to see a well-rounded education, but not in America, at least not where I teach, and yes, many things they should know about (maybe not be able to recite chapter and verse, but have some knowledge of) are being left by the wayside so that they can take advanced calculus and get a job in engineering. Humanities and liberal arts educations in America aren't worth the ink of the paper of the diploma; very few respect them, and applying what you can do with those degrees only creates resentment.
John G Added Jun 3, 2017 - 5:00pm
Another example of a right wing culture warrior blaming the left for the failures of right wing 'markets are god' politics and their fake economics.
The left hasn't had any power since the 70s. Own your own failures.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jun 3, 2017 - 5:29pm
Expat
 
Well, even if my articles are nonsense some people seem to like them ;-)
 
Lady Beyoncé Gaga Rihanna Perry sings nonsense music composed by a computer but some seem to like that.
 
So I'm pretty mainstream LOL
Jeff Michka Added Jun 3, 2017 - 6:27pm
SEFa sez: collection from Faulty Towers to Waiting for God-You'll enjoy Fawlty Towers (or as the sign for the place changes:)Flowery Twats or Watery Owls. and best episode being "The Germans."  John Cleese said it took six months to do that episode.  Try and count how many plot points there are in the half hour.  Amazing stuff.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jun 3, 2017 - 6:49pm
Jeff
 
Gotta take 2 weeks off, then :-)
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jun 3, 2017 - 6:51pm
BTW: That one about the Germans must be good. We can relate to that LOL
Tamara Wilhite Added Jun 3, 2017 - 7:10pm
Social Justice Warriors remind me of "Harrison Bergernon", especially the 1980s film. Harass people who lose a lot of weight because it hurts the feelings of the fat. Don't have gifted and talented classes, it makes the average feel bad. You can't tell me I'm ugly, slow, not as good, you're evil. Ability? That's irrelevant. I feel that I can, you have to let me.
Short step away from actually handicapping people.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jun 4, 2017 - 7:39am
Expat
 
Sometimes it's better not to know....
 
Leroy Added Jun 4, 2017 - 10:57am
The schools spend too much time on social justice today.  Every minute dedicated to kids studying Heather or Sally or whoever the hell it is has two mommies is time that could be put to better use.  They claim that years of heterosexual education has to be undone.  I don't recall reading nonsense like Heather and a Regular Mom and Dad.
 
A colleague likes to reminiscence about the good old days in school when if you got out of line the teacher would knock you upside the head.  Those were the good old days of discipline.  His kid wasn't paying attention one day, and the gym teacher popped him upside the head.  It wasn't hard.  It was just to get his attention.  He wouldn't stop until not only the teacher fired but that his teaching credentials were revoked.  I reminded him of his time in school, to which he responded, "That was then.  This is now.  Things are different."  Today, you can't touch a kid, even if the kid is in distress, you can't give a hug.
 
Maybe we need two schools.  One to educate and one to teach social justice doctrine.
Mircea Negres Added Jun 4, 2017 - 11:14am
Ian, I find myself in agreement with you. God knows I've been moaning about the "education system" and its less than satisfactory results for ages... Good article, got nothing to add besides compliments.
Ian Thorpe Added Jun 4, 2017 - 12:57pm
SEF, love your idea about nonsense articles, count me in.
British humour is varied, there's the dark side, like Leauge of Gentlemen or Little Britain, the whacky side like Python and The Goons (remember them or am I showing my age again) and then the style that evolved from the old Music Hall (=Vaudeville, US readers) working class comedy and is best represented in 'Carry On' movies which get laughs from innuendo and double entendre.
Peter Cook was a favourite of mine too. 

German humour is lavatorial and when I worked in Stockholm I learned Swedes laugh at anything that involved Norwegians jumping off cliffs.
Ian Thorpe Added Jun 4, 2017 - 1:08pm
 Expat, I think we are not drowning in ideas but theories, most of them dreamed up by people who have spent all their careers in university faculties filling their heads with other theories (washed down with statistics) and are therefore short on life experience.
I agree we are short of creativity, the French have a good phrase, la pensée unique, which refers to the mindset that insists there is only one way of viewing the world. Ironically the people who scream and shout about diversity are the ones who promote the pensée unique, 
Ian Thorpe Added Jun 4, 2017 - 1:16pm
Jeff, it's a long time since I was in the USA, and then I was only in the North East. Even then, when mixing with the professional and managerial classes I found them weird, very anxious to peer approval by conforming to social norms and, in short, the kind of people Pete Seeger sang about in 'Little Boxes.'
Since then Americans seem to have become easily seduced by fads and fashions posing as cultures.
Ian Thorpe Added Jun 4, 2017 - 1:27pm
Jeff Michka, Farty Towels was a true classic, I loved every episode but I think if I had to choose a favourite it would be the one with the woman who wanted a room with a sea view, but perhaps you have to be British to be familiar with that kind of bossy, snobbish woman.

Extract from Fawlty Towers Room With A View episode

Mrs. Richards: When I pay for a view, I expect to see something more interesting than that.
Basil Fawlty: That is Torquay, madam.
Mrs. Richards: Well, that's not good enough.
Basil Fawlty: Well, might I ask what you expected to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydney Opera House, perhaps? The hanging gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically...
Mrs. Richards: Don't be ridiculous. I expect to be able to see the sea.
Basil Fawlty: You *can* see the sea. It's over there between the land and the sky.
Mrs. Richards: I'd need a telescope to see that.
Basil Fawlty: Well, might I suggest you move to a hotel closer to the sea.
[sotto voice]
Basil Fawlty: Or preferably in it.
Mrs. Richards: Now listen to me. I'm not satisfied, but I've decided to stay here. However, I shall expect a reduction.
Basil Fawlty: Why? Because Krakatoa's not erupting at the moment,

 
Ian Thorpe Added Jun 4, 2017 - 1:30pm
Tamara, you caught me out with Harrison Bergernon. Now I've looked it up it seems like a story I'd find interesting, I'll get back to you when I've read it, thanks.
Ian Thorpe Added Jun 4, 2017 - 1:38pm
Leroy, Absolutely right, social justice, gender awareness (which should require all of 30 seconds to cover in full), diversity studies (but no actual diversity included), and other politically correct bollocks (oops, I'm back on gender awareness).
We should be polite and considerate to people we meet regardless of who or what they are, (unless they act like arseholes towards us), but we are not obliged to suck up to anyone. Polite but uninterested is fine, it's all anyone has a right to expect.
Ian Thorpe Added Jun 4, 2017 - 1:43pm
Mircea, thanks for reading and commenting. A big thing I think is missing from schools is discipline, not through heavy handed punishments but through respect. But for that discipline to be effectivie I think the teachers need to maintain some distance and not behave as if they want to be the ir pupils best friend.
Banning cellphone would be a big help too. 
Jeff Michka Added Jun 4, 2017 - 1:47pm
Ian Thorpe sez: with the woman who wanted a room with a sea view, but perhaps you have to be British to be familiar with that kind of bossy, snobbish woman.- Ah, yes...And she had a "hearing aid," and could really hear just fine when she wanted to.  Think that level of bossy and snobbish is pretty universal.  Will agree, that Flowery Twats episode was hilarious, as was really, the whole series.
Mircea Negres Added Jun 4, 2017 - 2:46pm
Ian, I agree with you once again. South African teachers I've encountered don't try to be kids' friend, but the lack of discipline in the classroom has been the topic of many a frustrated teacher's letters to newspapers. Apparently, cellphones are a big problem here too. I've been out of school since 1996, but I hear and read things.
 
These days, schools can't even expel a student caught with drugs on school property, in uniform and during school hours! Okay, some teachers don't help either. Quite a few have been caught having sex with their pupils, administering corporal punishment (it's been illegal since 1996) and even beating kids to death...
 
In other words, the situation is bad and getting worse, but it's the kids who suffer the most in the end, for they come out of school about as ignorant as they went in and employers find it nearly impossible to hire them, which causes another series of social problems due to massive unemployment among the youth.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 12, 2017 - 2:28pm
Ian - a brilliant piece. Spot on!
 
SEF- your observations of the differing types of humour (or lack thereof) reminded me of brief synopsis of heaven and hell.
 
In heaven - the french cook the food, the germans are mechanics and the italians run the hotels
 
In hell - the french run the hotels, the germans cook the food and the italians are mechanics.
 
Not sure where that leaves the Swiss ☺
Ian Thorpe Added Jul 12, 2017 - 2:42pm
Burghal, they win the men's singles at Wimbledon.
George N Romey Added Jul 12, 2017 - 7:08pm
College prior to WW2 wasn't always for the sake of an occupation. Mostly the rich went to college and whose lives were already taken care of. It was thought they would need the "social rounding" that college would provide to future leaders.
 
After WW2 with the GI bill and then the birth of the Baby Boomers college suddenly became the "must" for all good parents and to assure that their little Johnny and Mary would never end up as a factory worker or a secretary.   Eventually the high school grad lost all the good jobs to the college grads and now the college grads are losing what good jobs remain to the privilege Ivy Leaguers.
 
Sometimes I think the entire college invasion is what has destroyed our way of living.  People are elevated to positions of authority and power based upon their education but they might not be any more smarter or perceptive than the guy running the pressing machine on the factory floor.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 13, 2017 - 8:26am
Interesting mention of Harrison Bergeron above. Worth noting: this was a satirical piece written by Vonnegut in the late 50s.
If you read the original you will see that it was a warning and a stinging indictment of politically correct thought. This was long before the term "PC" had been coined. The seeds of it had already begun to take root in academia. There were within that population disciples of the Frankfurt Exiles school of thought. Saul Alinsky was a sort of second generation exile, expanding upon those ideas. In 1950s America this was not a school of thought that would be widely embraced so it remained underground to be cultured in the lab of academia.
The 60s began to produce the results of their tutelage. In the 70s many of these products moved into politics and the realm of public policy. Or they took the torch to carry on the tradition in academia. And thus was the school of thought expanded and perpetuated. We are seeing the results of this today.
Ian Thorpe Added Jul 13, 2017 - 11:12am
George, I bypassed university myself, the academic environment was never my comfort zone, so as soon as I could I was off to the workplace. In 1966 however it was not the norm to go into higher education although for someone like me with a 'public school' education, (please don't tell John G that, he's liable to suffer apoplexy,  British public schools being the opposite of public schools in the USA, i.e. very exclusive) university or a military officer - cadet placing were more of an expectation. I obtained a diploma in economics and sociology at night school.
In my career, which took me into many branches of the  business world, I found the best people to work with were often those who had gone a similar route to mine, but in an engineering or technical discipline, because in my not so humble opinion, they had a mix of formal learning and professional experience and thus took a much broader view of tasks.
Ian Thorpe Added Jul 13, 2017 - 11:25am
Burghal: Tamara's tip is on my reading list, it sounds a very interesting story and I'm a little addicted to dystopian prophecies. In George Orwell's non - fiction "The Road To Wigan Pier," the first half of the book is a study of working class life in industrial communities in the 1930s. The second half is a polemical demolition of the Fabian Society, the elitist socialist who had hijacked the British Labour Party and were intent on transforming it from a grass roots movement into a vehicle for propelling 'paternalistic liberalism' (the very worst kind of tyranny,) into government.
It was out of this paternalistic liberalism, which hides behind the rhetoric of fairness, equality and redistribution of wealth, infantilizes working people and treats them as irredeemably stupid, that politically correct thinking sprang.
The Fabian Society is named after the Roman General Fabius Maximus whose favourite tactic was to avoid direct confrontation and by a campaign of constant harassment and disruption of supply lines, to wear down the enemy.
I must dig out one of my articles on the Fabians and post it.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 13, 2017 - 11:56am
Sounds a lot like IngSoc, doesn't?
I dont know if you're familiar with one of your countrymen, Lord Noel Annan? In 1990 he penned an excellent book, non-fiction, titled Our Age. In a chapter exploring the impact of the German rennaissance he describes his first encounter with the modern PC in university about a decade prior. If you can put hands on a copy I would revommend it. He also has a chapter dedicated to Michael Oakeshott that I found quite interesting
Ian Thorpe Added Jul 13, 2017 - 12:59pm
I'll have to refamiliarise myself, but a colleague and close friend who like Annan was a pupil at Stowe, though in the 1960s lent me his copy, insisting I read it. Colin, who always insisted Stowe provided the setting for Mervyn Peake's trilogy of surreal novels, Gormenghast, was not from a very wealthy family, his father was an RAF officer posted abroad. The children of such people were given a very good education courtesy of Her Majesty's Armed Services.
The book was widely read among those of us who had to deal with the Oxbridge elite, who seemed to be from a different planet but really I guess were a different caste. It threw light on much of the reasoning behind elitism and led me to an understanding of how organizations have a kind of collective life and like hive communities will always close ranks to protect themselves when threatened with change.
I should mention I am not from a wealthy family, having won a scholarship as a day pupil to Shrewsbury. It was fun to remind Colin that his school only opened in the 1920s, mine had been in operation since fifteen fifty something. :>
George N Romey Added Jul 13, 2017 - 5:30pm
Ideas have been replaced by  big data, software and spreadsheets.  Try speaking to many educated young people in terms of concepts and they just look blank at you.  Today those that never question but just churn out their modern day factory work are valued.  Say something original and you start to make enemies.  Take it from someone that knows.
Ian Thorpe Added Jul 14, 2017 - 2:02pm
George, agreed - but I've done Big Data already. It was posted a few days before our election and I got very irritated with all the nonsense so we took off to Ireland for a week and I never farmed the comment thread. Thus it sort of went down the the proverbial lead Zepplin.
George N Romey Added Jul 16, 2017 - 1:30pm
Despite an abysmal track record big data on its own without ideas, experience, intuition, and critical think continues to be the hallmark of decision making.  Ian given your years of experience you probably are frustrated with the genocide of ideas, turned over the a belief that all answers lie in a software program or spreadsheet.  Data should be used to support ideas not abandon ideas.
Simply Jews Added Oct 19, 2017 - 4:35am
Loved the article.
 
As a (somewhat tangential, but maybe not) accompanying pieces, I would warmly recommend the Null-P by William Ten
 
http://you-books.com/book/W-Tenn/Null-P
 
And The Marching Morons by Cyril Cornbluth.
 
http://mysite.du.edu/~treddell/3780/Kornbluth_The-Marching-Morons.pdf
 
Cause this very well could be where we are going.
Dave Volek Added Oct 19, 2017 - 12:15pm
I hate to say, but I'm in agreement with John G on this article. And it seems I'm opposite to most commentators.
 
It's so easy to bash education systems when they don't churn out the results we expect them to. And this article, to me, is mostly bashing--not really offering any solution to fix whatever needs to be fixing. 
 
The aim of this education method is to produce well rounded individuals by encouraging pupils to learn by themselves rather that force feeding a diet of dry facts and forcing curious, lively young minds to specialise at far too early a stage in their development.
 
I have to agree 100% with this statement. But the learners have to have inside themselves the desire to learn. When far too many students come into school without this attitude in place, they have to forced to acquire literacy, math, science, and critical thinking skills.
 
I started Grade 1 in 1966. As was common in my economic demographic at that time, we were given very little pre-school instruction. So I entered Grade 1 not knowing the alphabet, shapes, colors, etc. I kind of went along with the classroom activities because children were supposed to follow adults--and the other children were following the adults. If I had my way, I would have been outside all day throwing rocks in the playground. 
 
In the middle of Grade 2, I had acquired enough literacy skills to understand the stories behind the comic books I was buying. "Ah," I thought, "that is why we are learning to read." From then on, that desire to learn was instilled in me. I took in almost everything the education system put in front of me as something interesting to learn. This desire lasted until my second year of university.
 
But I had to be "forced" to spend about 1.5 years into learning how to read before I acquired that desire to learn.
 
Many people never get that desire. But if they make it to their high school diploma, they have a reasonable level of literacy, math, and critical thinking in their tool chest for life. They were forced into these skills.
 
 
I'm all in favor of the flipped classroom, where students work independently on their assignments using online teaching tools. They progress at their own speed. But until we somehow find that way to instill the desire for learning that most students can work this independently, this education philosophy is not going to work.
 
All you education bashers believe there is some magic formula for education systems to turn young people into independent learners.
 There isn't. Neither was there ever a golden age of education that produced so many talented people that today we have a "Genocide of Ideas."
Ian Thorpe Added Oct 19, 2017 - 1:11pm
Dave, you agree with John's comment? But that was totally off topic. And you are the second person in a few days to complain about content not offering solutions.
Why should people on opinion sites like this be expected to offer solutions. We're not running for office, we're not campaigning for action committees. We're just offering an opinion.
And anyway, if you really missed the solution I offered here, perhaps you should confine your reading to DC or Marvel content in future. Good grief I even provided a link to an article explaining how The Renaissance Education works and why it works.
John G Added Oct 19, 2017 - 4:47pm
My comment was not off topic at all. The piece is partisan.
e.g. They don't read Marx at universities anymore. Though they should.
Education is failing because of neoliberal economic dominance over governments. 
Like everything else.
That is not Marxism or anything like it. It is the result of the rejection of Keynesianism in the 70s.
It is capitalism on steroids.
Saint George Added Oct 19, 2017 - 9:35pm
Education is failing because of neoliberal economic dominance over governments. 
 
Not in your case. Education failed because you're stubbornly resistant to anything that challenges your fossilized socialism. Own your failures, chucklehead.
Jeff Jackson Added Oct 19, 2017 - 10:27pm
Yes Ian, we have become far too specialized in schools. I have people that I quote famous people to and they haven't a clue. Of course, I don't claim the great quotes as my own, but I surely could. I had an English prof who didn't know who I was quoting when I said "Brevity is the soul of wit"- I was ready to ask him if he really had an advanced degree in English! 
Ian Thorpe Added Oct 20, 2017 - 1:03pm
Jeff, he was probably one of those who believes we should never read anything written before they were born. Such people will never learn (from the same character) to "Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;" which would be very good advice for some.
Dave Volek Added Oct 20, 2017 - 1:30pm
Ian
I went to your Renaissance Education link. While I didn't realize that traditional education had this name, this pedagogy is well known. And it really doesn't work for low performing students. You can't force these people into an academic stream if they don't have the desire to learn. So yes, the curricula has to be watered down for them. While they may not be on a path to master Grade 12 physics, they are learning literacy, math, and critical thinking skills in other ways. It is better for society to keep them in school, having success in some subject material, than to them have drop out in Grade 10 because their headspace is not in Renaissance education.
 
And unless your school systems are incompetent, those students with the desire and skills for academia, stay in the academic stream.  They do not get the watered down version of high school.
 
Getting back to the point that schools don't teach people to think: if students have that desire to learn, there is ample opportunity to think and learn how to think with "Renaissance Education". They have self-motivation to complete whatever the teacher assigns them. They like reasoning out how to get from A to B, whether that be math, music, or history.
 
For students who don't have that desire, schoolwork is drudgery. However, they still need to cajoled through this process to acquire some life skills. So it might be factory education for them. But if they are held to be accountable to complete assignments with some degree of excellence. This accountability will help them find and keep various kinds of jobs. The extra math and literacy skills that were forced into them won't hurt either. The alternative of not educating them in this way leads to more unemployable youth.
 
From my perspective, your article bashed the work of every teacher and every educational administrator trying to resolve the problems of education. You needed to be challenged on your hype.
Katharine Otto Added Oct 22, 2017 - 9:43pm
SEF,
French literature has wonderful humor.  Candide, by Voltaire, is one of my all-time favorites.  Moliere.  Rimbaud.  Balzac.
Katharine Otto Added Oct 22, 2017 - 9:45pm
Education is failing because school is boring.  You stick high-energy kids together in a cubicle all day, listening to some teacher drone through a committee-determined curriculum that bears no relevance to life, and wonder why kids have no curiosity?
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 29, 2017 - 2:32pm
Leroy has just drafted my new book adventure: "Heather has a single-mother and a single-father who are married"
The thread is about ideas after all.

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