Thursday, November 10, 2016

In Defense of Intellectualism

I want my kids to be smart.  I want my kids to be intelligent.  I want my kids to have common sense.  I want my kids to be happy.  These seem to be pretty basic things that I would imagine most parents want for their kids, amongst other things.  Add healthy to the four I listed above, and you’ve probably got my top list.  This has been a subject I’ve thinking about for a while.  I’ve been wanting to write about this, but I’ve never really understood how, or exactly what I wanted to say, but watching the campaign, and ultimately watching the election results on Tuesday gave me exactly what I was looking for.  I was watching with the kids, and they were asking all the questions you’d expect people their age to ask, and it was good.  Time and time again during the night one of the pundits would bring up some stat talking about how one candidate or the other was doing “amongst College educated white women” or how another one was doing amongst “non college educated men.”   Now I understand the nature of statistics is such that you need to find ways to put people into smaller groups.  I get that level of education is a fairly obvious way of accomplishing this.  The issue that I take with it is the correlations people were drawing. “Well obviously Hillary is doing better amongst the college educated…” or “These poor non-college educated people they were manipulated and fell for what Donald was selling.”  Now before everybody runs off thinking this is some political piece and I’m going to be taking one side or the other, it’s not, and I’m not taking a side.  Well actually I am taking a side, I’m not happy that Donald Trump is going to be the next President of the United States, I am equally unhappy as I would have been if Hillary won.  I voted for Gary Johnson.  Yes I know he didn’t know where Aleppo was, much less that it’s a city.  I don’t care, even with the gaffes that he had, I felt he was still a better choice than either of the two major party nominees.  I felt like we could do better.  I felt like we could do much better…. and that’s what I want to talk about today.
How do we do better?  How do we raise the level of social discourse? How do we become a more intelligent society?  I think that’s the main question that needs to be answered.  We get a more intelligent society everything else falls into place.  Right now according to the U.S. Dept. of Education 14 percent of Americans can’t read, 19 percent of high school grads can’t read, and almost 50 percent read at or below an 8th grade level.  Take that with the fact that 27 percent of adults admitted to not reading a book within the last year.  If 27 percent admitted to not reading a book, what’s the percentage that actually didn’t read one?  45 maybe 50 percent?  The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the last survey first asked people if they could read before they asked if they actually read a book?  Now with all this talk about raising the intelligence of an entire population, I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to go to college.  Far from it.  I understand the world needs ditch diggers too, and ditch diggers don’t need a degree.  I would however contend that we do need ditch diggers with a decent head on their shoulders and some common sense.  Along these lines you may have heard of Mike Rowe, he’s got an amazing foundation (www.profoundlydisconnected.com) where he’s doing great work around getting people non college skills to be a productive member of society.  It’s a great foundation, please go check it out.  Back to this idea of raising intelligence.  How do we accomplish this?  I think it’s actually pretty straight forward.  We simply stop lowering the bar.  We expect more.  We expect more out of ourselves, we expect more out of our kids.  We engage in conversations where our goal is to learn something and not to talk next.  We maintain our curiosity.  We don’t shy away from asking questions.  We allow ourselves to feel insecure for a minute and ask the stupid question.  We turn off the damn TV and open a book or a magazine.  That long list still qualifies as straight forward right?

We raise our kids with the stated goal of making them productive members of society who have something to give back.  We share this goal and expectation with them.  How amazing would that be if every kid grew up understanding that the expectation on them is that they be productive members of society?  We do that for a generation, do we have another version of Hillary and Donald running for President in 32 years?

5 comments:

  1. First off I would tell your kids never to vote for someone who has absolutely no,none,not a chance on Earth of winning.Then they may take things you say in the future seriouslly.

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  2. First of all, I congratulate and encourage you finanally wrote about this subject. Many things I agree with. The result of the election proves that millions of voters don't have or don't follow common sense. Less than a 100 years ago something terrible happened in Europe and I keep my fingers crossed this election will not lead to something similar. But I think the problem is the aristocratic system in the u.s. rather than the people. College degree people raise college degree children, because they can afford to pay for their education. It's an eternal circle. If you can't read properly, it's much more comfortable to watch fox news than to read the new york times. Another eternal circle. To break the circle, we need to give all children the same chances in society. I would say, vote left wing. I know, it's maybe against American heritage of everybody finding their way by struggling and working their way up, and meanwhile make do with what they have.
    Don't put too much pressure on your children. Simple teach them right from wrong. Pressure will keep the current highly competitive system in place. In the end, the rich will still prevail in such a system.

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  3. First of all, I congratulate and encourage you finanally wrote about this subject. Many things I agree with. The result of the election proves that millions of voters don't have or don't follow common sense. Less than a 100 years ago something terrible happened in Europe and I keep my fingers crossed this election will not lead to something similar. But I think the problem is the aristocratic system in the u.s. rather than the people. College degree people raise college degree children, because they can afford to pay for their education. It's an eternal circle. If you can't read properly, it's much more comfortable to watch fox news than to read the new york times. Another eternal circle. To break the circle, we need to give all children the same chances in society. I would say, vote left wing. I know, it's maybe against American heritage of everybody finding their way by struggling and working their way up, and meanwhile make do with what they have.
    Don't put too much pressure on your children. Simple teach them right from wrong. Pressure will keep the current highly competitive system in place. In the end, the rich will still prevail in such a system.

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  4. I am greatful for this Nextdoor forum. It takes a village to raise a child and this platform is a technological step in building our village and thus raising our kids together.
    What you expressed was done with a high level of civility and that is a must, thank you.
    I would encourage all parents to take an active role in volunteering at the schools. To get a feel for how are kids are learning and to bring some real-life perspective to the education system.

    Bill Fisher

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    Replies
    1. Hi Bill,
      Thank you for the comment and I couldn't agree more. All of this starts with parents. The only way we raise civically minded, intelligent, and curious kids, is by doing our best to be all of those things. Thanks again for the comment. Have a good night.

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