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".