Sunday, December 26, 2010

Public Education Doesn't Teach Thinking

Lately everyone is blaming our poor education system for the state of our affairs. We are turning graduates out of high school that can’t read or write. I have no problem with that, we need people to man the hamburger stands. If they can get my order right “Double cheeseburger, no pickle,” they pass my education test.

When I went to school (in an era fondly referred to as the “Stone Age,” by my son) everyone had a pretty good idea where they fit in. There were three people that always got A’s on all of their exams, then a few more were B students and the rest of us were C students. There were a few D and F students that were destined to become auto mechanics. On the whole, everyone accepted the fact that they weren’t genius material, but we all knew where we stood in the group; if you had a B or an A in one course, you could think of yourself as “above average.”

The TV and newspapers back then provided the news with very little political content. Being a Republican or Democrat back then was kind of like being a Protestant or a Catholic, it wasn’t a big thing except at election time. There was an unwritten law that one did not discuss religion or politics. It was a waste of time, you weren’t going to change anyone’s views, just piss them off (notice how this hasn’t changed).

The high school students today are not much different than 40 years ago. Everyone gets an A now, so an employer needs to weed out the “Car Mechanics” before they hire someone. The big thing that has changed over time is the inability of people to think for themselves and challenge what they read or hear from the media or their acquaintances. The point I am trying to stress here is that people don’t question the statements made by the media anymore, they quote them and/or shop for the news they want to hear.

The other day an economist on the news, stated that gas prices were increasing because of Chinese consumption. If you make 20 cents an hour, how much gas are you going to buy? Are gas prices increasing or is the value of our dollar decreasing. Am I the only one rising up out of my chair in disbelief of what I am hearing?

A while back, a friend of mine made the statement that everyone on the Federal Reserve Board was Jewish and he even got on the Internet and pulled up the article to prove it. The word “everyone” made me somewhat suspicious. The Aryan Nation is not what I call a non biased news source. The concept of shopping for "documentation" on the Internet makes me cringe.

There is no questioning of the “facts” anymore. The more a “fact” is repeated the more valid it becomes. The idea that one can question these jewels of refined thought and laugh at them, as being absurd, is heresy. Using common sense to disagree with what is accepted by our peers isn’t acceptable behavior. Keep your mouth shut or the others will laugh at you. Our schools don’t teach thinking skills, where you question the material presented. You’re asked only for the right answer to each question.

It brings to mind the Rest-Home-Senility-Test where the applicant is presented with a bathtub half full of water and given the option of using a bucket, a cup, or a teaspoon to empty it with. The right answer is not the bucket; you would pull the plug to drain it.

At some point more of us will start to question the options government is shoving at us. No police services, no fire, no schools, no military, but don't cut one penny of retirement, Social Security or Health care. And if they refer to something as a “No-Brainer,” it is you they have in mind (with no brains) and your wallet is in the cross-hairs.

It's time to start questioning the answers we are being given. California can cut all services and still not balance its budget. But of course Ben Bernanke, "Keeper of the Federal Purse," still has checks in his check book so I guess we are OK for now—if we don’t think about it too hard. We don't want to upset an upside down apple cart--do we? Give it some thought--there really isn't too much to lose if we did, go figure!

Copyright 2010 All rights reserved


Clay Boggess said...

"There were a few D and F students that were destined to become auto mechanics." With all of the 'dumbing-down' that is going on with our schools now you have to make an 'A' to qualify to be a mechanic. No offense intended to all of those who work on cars for a living.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Clay

The thing I forgot to mention was the mechanic had to think when fixing a problem and that's a good start on entering the real world.

A lot of people believe this mess we are in will just go away if given time. If you think it through, the free ride is over.

People will need to do a lot of thinking when they have 5 bills and only the money to pay 4. Their first thought will be, "How did I get into this mess?" And the answer isn't in a school book.

BTW my car mechanic makes more than I do!

dearieme said...

“Double cheeseburger, no pickle”: we learnt in Australia to order "Hamburger 'the lot'". The lot in question turned out to include beetroot and carrot. Delish.

Tom in MA said...

I was going to say the same thing about mechanics... and plumbers, carpenters, etc. Those jobs take more skill than most IT jobs, really, and they're among the few jobs that haven't been ruined by IT and outsourcing.

Anyway, I like your point about group-think and the triumph of ideology over common sense. Maybe it's all this standardized testing in the schools. But that doesn't explain all the questionable 'facts' circulating by email among middle-aged adults. I'm so sick of left/right-wing whiners.

Gas is up like 30% this year but the dollar is holding steady against the major oil-producing countries. Chinese and Indian demand has to be a major factor -- I believe gas is heavily subsidized there, and the growing upper classes can afford it regardless. Meanwhile all the easy sources are drying up, leaving us with expensive oil sands, deep-sea drilling, and this hydrofracking business that's causing an uproar in places like PA and NY. So I just don't see a bright future for the oil-based economy... we'll have to make do with less energy. Good news for American workers is, it takes a lot of energy to haul crap over here from China (those big container ships have 50-100 megawatt engines).

Anonymous said...

Average teacher salary in CA. is only a little over $70,000.
Pay teachers like doctors,
($150,000. a year) and the problem will be solved. said...

I've recently read that in the 1960s, Jane Fonda admitted she made it a point to not read anything that opposed her views as she feared conflicting info might weaken her resolve. Could be another reason why people today don't "challenge what they read or hear from the media or their acquaintances."

By the way, I wish you and everyone else a very happy new year.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Tom in MA

Your comments:

"Gas is up like 30% this year but the dollar is holding steady against the major oil-producing countries. Chinese and Indian demand has to be a major factor -- I believe gas is heavily subsidized there, and the growing upper classes can afford it regardless."

have me scratching my head. Gas hasn't gone up 30 percent, our dollar is worth 30 percent less. If you are an Arab selling oil, the new price is the same as the old price with the "dollar rot" figured in.

Most countries that subsidize gas prices are major producers, you can't afford to do it otherwise. In most impoverished countries, the only way to raise taxes is on consumption items with a value added tax (VAT). Subsidizing the price of gas, lowers your tax collecting revenues.

If you examine the BTU equivalency rates for gasoline and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) a lot of countries are converting to CNG for all forms of transportation and India and Pakistan are two of them.. It's about 30% cheaper. The bad thing here, look for natural gas prices to rise through your home's roof.

As for the perspective of shipping costs, we can buy a gallon of gas shipped all the way from Saudi Arabia and have it refined for less than $3.50. But we will pay $1.25 for 10 oz of bottled water.

The real thing to look at here is perspective. Have prices gone up or has the dollar decreased in buying power?

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Dearieme

You lost me on your order. I never heard of beet root and carrot on a hamburger. It sounds tasty.

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