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Do you think our culture is anti-intellectual? - Page 8

post #141 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by library lady View Post
My DH and I run across anti-intellectuals all the time. For example, my MIL constantly talks about how she hates reading and doesn't see the point in it. DH and I lived in an area where thinking for yourself or being intellectual was highly frowned upon. We do not flaunt our abilities but we tend to stick out no matter how hard we try to "fit in". I can provide example after example of how intellectuals are not respected. Respect is not gained unless you have a high paying job or end up being somebody else's boss.
Well, as always with MDC opinion sorts of theads, it depends where we live and with whom we associate.

I live in an area that appears to value intellectualism, as well as higher education and public education.

The people I see and run into read a lot of books, newspapers, and magazines. They are well read and current with news and politics. They have a real love of learning, and you see it being fostered in their children.
post #142 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by library lady View Post
How many people say they want to grow up and be smart? I would love to hear a kids say, "Oooo, I want to grow up and be a geek mommy".
I don't know how many kids say that, but hope they are thinking about it. I know I thought that when I was a kid.

But I don't think being smart = being a geek. Or a freak.

You can be a smart geek freak.

But you can also be a not so smart geek freak.

Geek and freak are separate from being smart.
post #143 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
Do we value intellectualism outside of achievement? I am not sure. Maybe not. But, certainly we value intellectualism, either on it's own, or when coupled with achievement.

Achievement on it's own is flat. And it rarely happens. There is usually some intellectual or cultural creative (also an intellectual in my book) behind the achievement.
Intellectualism outside of achievement is devalued and looked down upon in my opinion. I have had coworkers and various people ask me why I have wasted my education by staying home with my kids. Because I have ability and an education, I am supposed to be out conquering the world. In an earlier post, you indicated that intelligent people that don't do anything substantive bother you. I feel like I would bother you because I have chosen to homeschool my kids and provide them with whatever intellectual stimulation they need.

If intellectualism without achievement is not valued, then it would be safe to say that intellectualism had no meaning on its own. There is no value in having knowledge for the sake of knowledge. That knowledge must lead to some higher good.

I have seen a lot of really hard working people achieve an aweful lot. They are not intellectual in the least but they are very successful people. They have achieved a lot more financial success than DH and I ever will and they are not smart people and they are certainly not intellectual by any definition. They work their butts off. DH and I are lazy and just don't have it in us to work that hard unless it is something that we value rather than something that society values. Most of the time our values and societal values do not line up and we are cool with that. We are the crappy people that are used to having everything fall into place and come easy to us. I never had to study in school. It all just sort of fell into place. I came from a very dysfunctional family. After the crash in the 80's, we were actually considered poor. I don't feel like I had to work for anything when it came to school. I got my A's without any sweat. In college, I don't feel like I had to work for my grades. I just had to show up for the most part. If something required too much work or I didn't enjoy it, I just avoided it. That is just the way I am. Yea, some might consider me lazy but it has gotten me this far. We are not successful in the traditional sense but we are happy for the most part.
post #144 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
Hard workers, people who complete their assignments and behave in class are valued. Intellectuals, people who think and create and develop new ideas, are shunned if they don't fit into the former category... and most don't.
I don't know about that. All of those characteristics and traits aren't mutually exclusive or inclusive. Kids can have a lot of combinations of those traits.

I don't know if I could say most intellectuals do not fit in either category.

You seem to imply that to be intellectual you must rebel and not fit in any category. I don't think that's true.

I think the cultural creatives among us think outside the box, and most intellectuals probably fit into that category.
post #145 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by library lady View Post
Intellectualism outside of achievement is devalued and looked down upon in my opinion. I have had coworkers and various people ask me why I have wasted my education by staying home with my kids. Because I have ability and an education, I am supposed to be out conquering the world. In an earlier post, you indicated that intelligent people that don't do anything substantive bother you. I feel like I would bother you because I have chosen to homeschool my kids and provide them with whatever intellectual stimulation they need.

If intellectualism without achievement is not valued, then it would be safe to say that intellectualism had no meaning on its own. There is no value in having knowledge for the sake of knowledge. That knowledge must lead to some higher good.
I didn't say that, nor did I mean that, nor do I believe that.

I am actually a college educated, career driven, highly motivated, achievement oriented SAHM at the moment.

Anyway, I didn't say "must." I said "should." That is my opinion. I refer back to the saying I quoted earlier "to whom much is given, much is expected."

I think that is true. But I don't ever talk about anything in a $$ or economic or business sense. That is the antithesis of everything I believe.

I think there are many ways to give back. And I think the economic achievement often comes at the lapse of something else...sometimes ethics, sometimes service, not always, but more than it should.

I just think if you have it, and can give back, then by all means do so. . It's not a must, it's an option.
post #146 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by library lady View Post
Intellectualism outside of achievement is devalued and looked down upon in my opinion.
I don't believe that for a minute.

I know there are people who say that very thing about SAHMs, specifically, and shame on them, by the way! I personally think it has more to do with being a SAHM (for whatever reason, being a SAHM is a trigger for some people. I don't get it. )

I think an education, including a college education, is always valuable no matter what one does with it.

And, for the record, a SAHM uses a college education.

Education is a valuable pursuit on it's own merit. ...that is, if it's used (and again not in an economic sense. We talked earlier about people who went to college and didn't end up using their degrees...do you mean just not for a job...or not at all...just kind of went through the motions?
post #147 of 229
Intellectualism is defined as "devotion to the exercise of intellectual pursuits."

Intellectual means:
of or relating to the intellect or its use
developed or chiefly guided by the intellect rather than by emotion or experience
rational
requiring use of the intellect
given to study, reflection, and speculation b: engaged in activity requiring the creative use of the intellect

Do I think our culture is anti-intellectual? (OP question) No, I don't. I think our culture is not anti-intellectual.

However, I don't think we are a culture or society of intellectuals. Does that make sense?
post #148 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
I don't know about that. All of those characteristics and traits aren't mutually exclusive or inclusive. Kids can have a lot of combinations of those traits.

I don't know if I could say most intellectuals do not fit in either category.

You seem to imply that to be intellectual you must rebel and not fit in any category. I don't think that's true.

I think the cultural creatives among us think outside the box, and most intellectuals probably fit into that category.
I think the main point is that there are a lot of different combinations and certain combinations are preferred. The well behaved intellectual is going to be valued over the rebellious intellectuals. If you are not the well behaved teacher's pet, it is more likely that you will be labeled a trouble maker or referred to the counselor or doctor for meds so that you can sit still.

I think the point you are missing is that there is a large population of intellectuals that don't realize that there is a box. It is fine if you think outside the box because at least you realize that there is a box that you can work within when you have to. Some people/kids are looking around wondering where in the world is this box that everyone keeps talking about. My 7 yo is more of the think outside the box kind of kid and everyone loves her to pieces. My 4 yo is the kind of kid that doesn't know that a box exists so a lot of people hate her because she is the one with lots and lots of questions and will not be put off. The kids that are outside of the box do pretty well. The others are the ones that get left out. If our society were truly intellectual, it would take into acount all intellectuals rather than just the few that have certain characteristics.
post #149 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
Do you think North American culture is anti-intellectual?
No.

Consider the strides (albeit not perfect by any means) that public education for the masses has made in the last 50 years. (think of rural areas and areas of widespread economic hardship such as Appalachia).

Think of the strides public funding has made in the past 50 years in terms of funding college education for the masses (the student loan program, not to metion the GI Bill). (Yes, I know the recent trends are not so good, and that needs to change).

Education is way more accessible for middle and lower classes than it used to be. We are no longer an agrarian society with an 8th grade education as a mean.

Sure, one can argue (and correctly so) that much of this progress was tied to plans for greater and more widespread economic prosperity, but some of it was because America placed value on an educated populace.

At least part of the motive is connected to value of intellectualism.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
How do think our collective attitudes towards intellectualism affect our children - and their future?
Yes. Absolutely.

Our culture is not a culture of intellectuals. There are non-intellectual pursuits all around us.

We have to be dilligent to raise kids who maintain their inate curiosity, amid all the eye candy and ear candy of this electronic and fast paced modern world.
post #150 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by library lady View Post
I think the main point is that there are a lot of different combinations and certain combinations are preferred. The well behaved intellectual is going to be valued over the rebellious intellectuals. If you are not the well behaved teacher's pet, it is more likely that you will be labeled a trouble maker or referred to the counselor or doctor for meds so that you can sit still.

I think the point you are missing is that there is a large population of intellectuals that don't realize that there is a box. It is fine if you think outside the box because at least you realize that there is a box that you can work within when you have to. Some people/kids are looking around wondering where in the world is this box that everyone keeps talking about. My 7 yo is more of the think outside the box kind of kid and everyone loves her to pieces. My 4 yo is the kind of kid that doesn't know that a box exists so a lot of people hate her because she is the one with lots and lots of questions and will not be put off. The kids that are outside of the box do pretty well. The others are the ones that get left out. If our society were truly intellectual, it would take into acount all intellectuals rather than just the few that have certain characteristics.
No, I didn't overlook that point. Someone earlier mentioned a highly intelligent child who could not sit still during class. And that is somewhat related to the rebellious intellectual.

I think both are outside of the intellectual debate. There are rebels who are and who are not intellectuals. Just as there are sensory seeking or ADHD kids who are and who are not intellectuals. Their individual needs should be addresed individually, not attributed to society being anti-intellectualism.

I was getting around to responding about the sensory seeking child example. I have a sensory seeking child myself. I can envision a day when my child will not be able to sit still during class. Will I talk to the teacher about allowing for more movement during class? Yes! Will I work with my child after school to make sure all needs, including homework, are met? Yes. Will I prepare my child as best I can to manage the school day? Yes!

I will not however blame an instance of any unqualified teachers, insensitive teachers, or ignorant teachers on society as a whole being anti-intellectual.

I'll just work around the ignorant people and make sure the school district and teachers are held accountable for their responsibilities.

Edited to add: my kid may or may not be highly intelligent. I don't know since my little one is just that - little. I know for sure that my child is sensory seeking and has few other "quirky" kid behaviors. But I separate that from intelligence. To me, that's a different issue...sort of like separating the rebellion and intellect of a rebellious smart kid.
post #151 of 229
I seem to be days behind on this thread and my mind is rambling with thoughts.

MusicianDad : Dh and I spent last New Years watching that documentary along with two other ones. Interesting to see it mentioned. I too though am going to keep my many thoughts on the subject to myself. I will just say that I agree that puritanism can have an impact on anti-intellectualism.

That Is Nice: Your thoughts on SAHM'ing reminds me of the book "What's a smart woman like you doing at home".

I think there is a bizarre dichotomy going on in NA culture regarding intellectualism. I've said before: our society needs intellectuals to progress. By default we need to value them for forward momentum in many areas. I think our general society though does not value intellectualism. Speaking in generalities We want "smart" kids, but we don't want them to be geeky. We want our kids to be the "best", but we devalue educational accomplishments and pursuits (I think because of our competitive natures). The GW Jr. campaign against Kerry rings a big bell in my head on this one.... The intellectual is not "the common man", and in many cases (politics, media) they are pitted against each other, with the intellectual on the negative end.

As far as schooling. Sure, a self driven kid who is working to appease the authorities above them could do well in school. Eilonwy's experiences are similar to mine. In K through 2nd I was advanced in reading and writing. My 3rd grade teacher did not believe in acceleration so I was left to sit at a desk while she sat at her's reading books aloud which I had read years prior. Everyone's personalities are different. Had I been a rules-following, people pleasing child (like our eldest DD) I would have just sat there quietly twiddling my thumbs (also not a good solution). Instead I got distracted, would try to do other things and was pegged as disruptive. This was the start of the negative labeling the seemed to be the only thing people noticed. I could go on with story after story in different grades....

I was under-performing for sure, but no one seemed to notice until we had to take a standardized tests. From middle school through high school this happened 3 times, ending with the PACTS which I again scored in the top % while failing classes. Each time I was sent to a psychologist or psychiatrist. No one asked me why I was failing health class or I would have told them "Because the teacher kicked me out of class when I told him the book contained inaccurate information regarding a woman's monthly cycle". No one asked me why I was failing Spanish or I would have said "Because the teacher took pity on me and let's me sit in the back of the class reading Sartre, Camus, and Vonnegut". No one asked my why I was failing history or I would have said "Because I read the book the first few days of school and when I told the teacher I thought it was too Westernized and didn't contain any real information on feminist history or McCarthyism he wanted me to teach these things to the class, and I declined".

I was not a "toe the line" kind of kid (OK, I'm still not, never will be). I did not have parents advocating for me and it wasn't until my Junior year of high school I realized the importance of it all and agreed to myself to do the minimum to get by. Honestly it was mostly to get the psychologists off my back: "Why are you looking out the window? Are you thinking of killing yourself by jumping out of it? That window is too small, you would never fit through...." Really, that's going to explain the discrepancy between my PACT scores and my failing grades. The rest of that conversation was even more amusing....

FWIW, my experiences in college didn't start out any differently really, I was aghast at the low level of education amongst my peers and continued to be bored and disgruntled.

Our PS system though worries me. I see it do great things for many people, but I think it would miserably fail my own children. I don't see it getting better then when I was a kid either (am I pessimistic?). NCLB can be devastating to kids on both the bottom and top ends. I do not envy teachers these days, they are fighting a downhill battle and put in an very difficult position. I think NCLB is anti-intellectual and it's running many of our school systems. What does that say about NA culture?

I'm happy for those who had positive experiences in school. Personally, I'm OK with all of mine. They have made me who I am, which has turned out to be a very aware advocate for my children, so the result is positive.

On the whole I think we need intellectuals, but we don't value them. Society in general is to intimated by them and our competitiveness strong in our personalities. We'd rather de-value it then admit we don't understand. It's the American fear of saying "I don't know".
post #152 of 229
I have been facinated by this discussion. I admit that I am often a lurker here and love reading most of the threads but rarely participate.

However, I felt I just had to make two comments. First, I absolutely do not believe the majority of NA citizens value intellectualism. Maybe I am just confused about the terminology but doesn't to value something mean to hold it as a high priority in your life? I think maybe some people say they value something because it seems like it is the right thing to say.

If you say you value honesty and are not an honest person, how can you value honesty? If you say you value being generous with your money, yet you do not do what is within your power to help someone who is truely in need, do you truly value generosity?

So, to say that people value intellectualism, which I consider pursuing activities that encourage you to stretch your mind, to deeply appreciate beauty, or to learn new things just for the sake of aquiring knowledge, it would imply that those things are present in their lives as well. I can't agree that the majority of people in this country are actively pursuing knowledge for the pure love of learning.

Library lady, I wanted to agree with you about the ads that shown on T.V. I am most disgusted about the back to school ads that focus on how "cool" you will look when school starts, what clothes are the most "in" and how you will be able to fit in if you are wearing the right top. Why are there no ads about how you will have the opportunity to learn new things, or think in new ways? I know ads are meant to sell products, but they have public service ads all the time. Why don't they have more public service announcements encouraging kids to be excited for school to start simply for the joy of learning? Maybe because that isn't what public school education is about for most people? Just a guess.

I was a public school teacher for five years. I will never, ever, ever, go back to that job. My last year I worked with kids who we put in my remedial reading class. When I asked them what they wanted to learn more about, they each said nothing. I was shocked. Not even about a sports hero, a music star, nothing. No, nothing, they said. I had to work so hard to convince them of even wanting to go into more depth in the things they were interested in. I was so proud at the end of the year when my kids asked me to watch a version of Romeo and Juliet. I had left a very poorly done watered down script version of the play lying around, and they read it out loud. I mentioned it was in movie form and they asked to see it. I showed them the Leonardo DiCaprio version. It is faithful to the language of the play and would have someone in it that was familiar to them. They loved it and asked so many questions. I happened to be observed that day. I was later questioned as to why I would show the students a movie that had bad language. Um, hello, have you ever read Romeo and Juliet? It's the same language that was in the move. The administrator felt the movie had too much violence in it. Um, again, have you ever read the play? Do you or do you not want kids to read Shakespeare? She literally told me I was not needed at the school and would have been let go if I had not already resigned because I was pregnant with my twins. Those kids left my class caring more about reading that year (because I allowed them to read whatever they wanted, not just books that were supposedly at "their level." Yep, that's right. IF the kid tested at a third grade reading level in eighth grade and we found them even attempting to read a nineth grade level book even if it interested them, we weren't supposed to allow it).
post #153 of 229
Quote:
I was later questioned as to why I would show the students a movie that had bad language. Um, hello, have you ever read Romeo and Juliet? It's the same language that was in the move. The administrator felt the movie had too much violence in it. Um, again, have you ever read the play? Do you or do you not want kids to read Shakespeare?
Wonder which Romeo and Juliet the administrator had studied in school.

Being who I am I probably would have just said. "Well, I supposed I could have had them study Titus Andronicus.

Quote:
(because I allowed them to read whatever they wanted, not just books that were supposedly at "their level." Yep, that's right. IF the kid tested at a third grade reading level in eighth grade and we found them even attempting to read a nineth grade level book even if it interested them, we weren't supposed to allow it).
I know someone who was there. She was "assessed" at a low reading level. I use quotes because they way the did it, she was guaranteed a low level. She couldn't read out loud very well and that's how they tested her so she got in trouble for reading above her level. Because the teacher caught her reading The Lord Of The Rings. No inquiry into whether she was comprehending what she read (which she was) just straight to "Your not a good enough reader for that book."

That really does mess up someones love of reading. On her own she LOVED reading. But in the confines of what they wanted her to read she hated it. It made her feel stupid. Luckily her parents caught on sooner then the school and stopped questioning her book choice.
post #154 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by xaloxe View Post

That Is Nice: Your thoughts on SAHM'ing reminds me of the book "What's a smart woman like you doing at home"
I'm not familar with that book. What does it say in regard to SAHMs?

As I said, I think education, including college education, is valuable unto itself. I'm a SAHM, and my college degree has never been a waste, nor will it ever be a waste.

I firmly believe nothing has changed by my SAHM status.
post #155 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by mymiraclebabies View Post
However, I felt I just had to make two comments. First, I absolutely do not believe the majority of NA citizens value intellectualism. Maybe I am just confused about the terminology but doesn't to value something mean to hold it as a high priority in your life?


I wasn't using that definition, and if I did, I'd have to agree, that, no, North American culture does not value intellectualism.

I was addressing this with "value" being defined as relative worth, merit, or importance.

Or, to further define, in a social context, the ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy.

This is from the dictionary.

I think in a North American social context, there is an affective regard for intelligence. People may not choose it for themselves (can they even do that or are we talking only about inate ability?), or have it as a priority in their own life, but that doesn't mean they don't value it or respect it.
post #156 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by mymiraclebabies View Post

If you say you value honesty and are not an honest person, how can you value honesty? If you say you value being generous with your money, yet you do not do what is within your power to help someone who is truely in need, do you truly value generosity?
These are good analogies.

If you value beauty, do you have to be beautiful?

With regard to your examples, I think they are parallels (somewhat) to intellectualism and society placing value on it.

I would say North American culture values honesty and generosity (look that the definition of value in my previous post).

But, by and large are most people honest and generous? Liars and less than generous people are pervasive in our culture (unfortunately).

I think it's the same with intellectualism. And I think intellect is an inate trait. One can't make a priority in one's life if one isn't naturally intelligent. Now, you can make education, achievement, academic success priorities if you're not born smart, but as this discussion has already said, those aren't the same things as intellectualism.

We can't say the majority of people aren't intellectual and then say they don't value intellectualism because they aren't making it a priority in their own lives.
post #157 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by mymiraclebabies View Post
I am most disgusted about the back to school ads that focus on how "cool" you will look when school starts, what clothes are the most "in" and how you will be able to fit in if you are wearing the right top. Why are there no ads about how you will have the opportunity to learn new things, or think in new ways? I know ads are meant to sell products, but they have public service ads all the time. Why don't they have more public service announcements encouraging kids to be excited for school to start simply for the joy of learning? Maybe because that isn't what public school education is about for most people? Just a guess.
Commercials are designed and funded by companies who want you to buy their junk. They have to make the junk look cool, not school. Their purpose is not to sell school, but things you supposedly "need" for school.

Public service ads cost money. I have seen a few that drum up excitement for learning and school. But there just aren't a lot of public service ads in total because they're not selling a commodity and backed by sales.
post #158 of 229
That Is Nice - again, maybe I am missing something but I still have a hard time understanding what you are saying. According to the definition you provided intellectualism is "devotion to the exercise of intellectual pursuits" how can you value (consider something important or useful) if you are not devoted in some way to pursuing somethings considered such as reading quality literature or non-fiction, actively appreciating art, watching quality filims, just to name a few things, how can you consider them important.

Everyone has a certain level of intelligence. Someone does not need to have an IQ of 150 or even 100 for that matter to like to read things that are not trashy and have some value. You don't need any degree or schooling to walk through an art museum and appreciate the beauty of what you are seeing. True, a higher level of intelligence will allow you to take in more which will lead you to want to pursue it more, but still everyone is born with a desire to learn new things and has a certain level of curiosity. I think the point some people in this thread are trying to make is that the majority of public schools, not all, suck that curiosity right out of you at a very young age. If the desire to learn and get excited about learning something to the fullest extent you are able is squashed when you are young, a lot of people will not try any more.

I think it is sad that an awful lot of people just sit around watching mindless T.V. shows, hang out in clubs or bars, or even just not care to learn something new. No, we do not value intellectualism. The largest percentage of people wouldn't look at someone who wanted to read a good book on Friday night instead of hanging out with friends at a club (I guess I'm thinking of a younger crowd here)and admire them even if they would not choose the same thing for themselves. Most people would wonder what was wrong with them, if they had some social disorder.

The point which I was trying to make about the ads was society does not need to equate school with a social order, being popular or fitting in. It is a harmful and destructive thing. People used to think it was cool to have cigarette ads. Sure the tabacco ads wanted to sell a product, but to have something that was so harmful to a person's health portrayed in such a positive light was wrong. That's why those ads are pulled now. I'm just trying to say that I believe (and this is just my opinion) that saying that you have to dress in a certain style or act a certain way is the only way you will enjoy school is emotionally distructive for kids. They could promote their products with kids being somewhere other than in a school setting. The vast, vast, majority of kids do not see the importance of school as important (they don't value it). They see it as a waste of time. And, again in my opinion, it is for many kids. However, we don't need to further promote the idea that a place that is supposedly designed to further learning is really only an outlet to showcase your popularity.

I've just read over my post and the way I've worded it seems a bit harsh. I really, really, really hope no one is getting the bad idea that I'm trying to be rude or sarcastic here. This is just a topic I feel very strongly about. I really do respect a lively debate and am always interested in listening to other's opinions regardless of whether I agree or not. I hope this comes across.

MusicianDad - you're right! With all the gore in Titus Andronicus I would have been booted out the door before the end of the day!
post #159 of 229
Sorry for all the grammar errors and incorrect words above. My son as just come in with poop all over his legs (poor guy is really sick now) and I was just trying to post as fast as I could before reading over it carefully!
post #160 of 229
Quote:
Originally Posted by mymiraclebabies View Post
through an art museum and appreciate the beauty of what you are seeing.
Well, we might be getting hung up on semantics and varying definitions for the concepts we're talking about. That tends to happen on MDC threads.

How do we define culture? Is is society at large? Society collectively? Individuals?

How do we define intellect/intellectualism? Is it inate intelligence? Is it choosing reading and museums over sports and tv (all examples brought up in previous posts)?

How do we define value? Is it respecting and holding in regard? Or is it making it something a priority in our own life?





See what I'm saying?

I'm looking at culture at large, what we do as a collective public. Therefore, I think because the collective public builds and funds such things as museums, libraries, public art we value intellectualism. I think because we as a collective public provide public schooling through high school (wasn't always the case), public universities, community colleges, student loans, etc, that we value intellectualism. I think because we hold cultural creatives and innovators in high regard, that we value intellectualism.

I'm defining value as holding in high regard, respecting, not necessarily pursuing in one's own life.
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