Do you think our culture is anti-intellectual? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 01:53 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
Do you think North American culture is anti-intellectual?
Yes, indeed I do. I don't believe this is a new trend, but I feel it is a growing one. I love all the access to information we have in NA: libraries, park and rec. programs, internet etc..... But in a way I think it can also further widen the gap between 'intellectuals' and others. There is more information floating around today then in many years past. How people interpret this information and what they do with it can make differences more pronounced. I have many more thoughts on the why, but don't believe this is the right format for it (read: I'm pretty sure I would offend someone).

I'm interested to see some men (maybe only one?) post on this forum as I would love to get a male/female perspective on this and the differences in the overall NA perception of intellectual males versus that of intellectual females. FWIW, I wish I'd known the women on this board when I was a kid. Oh to never go back to those years of being accused of using my brain to flirt with boys.... Really, not many of them knew who Sartre was either.

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How do think our collective attitudes towards intellectualism affect our children - and their future?
I would love to hear others' thoughts on this as well. First off I will say I do not equate 'institutionally educated' with 'intellectual', I'm in the intellectual for the love/need of it camp.

To talk about intellectual pursuits seems to alienate others, in turn alienating oneself. It's easy enough to pick up on this, and our kids already have to some degree, both in interaction with other children, and in some cases with adults as well. This is a difficult issue to deal with in children, as we as parents try to keep them intellectually engaged with similar-aged peers who are also supportive. This is made more challenging by the issues noted by OP's, that overall the hegemony undervalues intellectual pursuits and is more concerned with the bottom line (NCLB). Add onto that the fact that while it is easy to note differences in 'extra-curricular' activities and support those, this is not the same for basic education because everyone's children are doing many of the same things. I wonder at how much of an influence the competitive nature of parents has to do with this....
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#32 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 08:54 AM
 
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One friend got a C- on a paper that was meant to express her opinion and the teacher wrote on the paper that it was the wrong answer.
I had the exact same thing happen to me. On the TAAS (the Texas school-leaving exam) we had the essay question: Choose your favorite part of the school day or class and explain why it is so. And I'll never forget what happened.
I wrote about the Humanities course I had taken that combined the study of literature, the arts, and history. It was easily my favorite course ever. Well, I got a perfect score on the exam except for the essay where the examiner gave me a B. She actually wrote notes on it to the effect that my paper was well-organized and pursuasive and my language was excellent but she thought the humanities was a poor choice. Yes, that's what she wrote! : I was puzzled so I checked the results my GT-Literature colleagues had gotten (mine was the only B) and they had all chosen things like lunch and PE. No one else chose an academic course. My Lit teacher was apoplectic and reassured me with, "Don't mind, Honey. Your writing is ten times better than the woman's who graded your paper." Sadly, it was true.

I was more visual-spatial as a child but school beat it out of me. Spending time with my v-s family is starting to change that again, though. I can finally do a puzzle without sorting the pieces and laying down the border first. Baby steps, baby steps...
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#33 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 09:13 AM
 
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Since we all seem to agree that our culture is anti-intellectual today, do any of you think there was a time when intellectualism *was* valued?

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#34 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 09:43 AM
 
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For those of you who self identify as intellectuals (and the word gives me pause, even though it shouldn't, because of cultural stereotyping) was there a period in your life when you were not an intellectual? As a child I was alway interested in learning. My kids do not seem to be - or not to the extent I was/am. I find it kind of sad and suprising - how the heck are children who are gifted not interested in learning???? Learning has brought me such joy in life, I want that for them too. I am unsure how to foster it. Of course, people have the right to not be intellectuals - I just wonder if that is what is going on or are they suppressing it due trying to conform to the dominant culture? Part of it may be their ages, 9 and 12.
Kathy
As others have pointed out, giftedness and intellectualism do not necessarily go hand in hand. I know some gifted people who were always at the top of their class and who grasp complex concepts very quickly but who are not intellectuals. For example, I know some gifted engineers and mathmeticians who rarely, if ever, read for pleasure, and who could care less about history, philosophy, or art. And I know intellectuals who are not really exceptionally gifted; they just love to learn and take the time to do so. As far as your children, it may be their ages. It may be peer pressure or their environment (are they in school?) It may just be that they have not yet found the subject that inspires them to learn more....
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#35 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 10:49 AM
 
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do any of you think there was a time when intellectualism *was* valued?
The nineteenth century? Medieval monastaries? Ancient China or Egypt?
There must be something more recent...

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giftedness and intellectualism do not necessarily go hand in hand
Very true.
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#36 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 11:22 AM
 
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do any of you think there was a time when intellectualism *was* valued?
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The nineteenth century? Medieval monastaries? Ancient China or Egypt?
There must be something more recent...
As I try to rack my brain, I can only think of inventors/contributors that were recognized much later in life for their contributions. Most scientists were scoffed at, works of literature were banned, and so on. We hear about the PITA's like Einstein and Edison when they were young. As soon as their ideas become accepted or their inventions become useful only THEN are they wonderful thinkers.

I think our culture is hypocritical. We want people to fix the world's problems, come up with inventions that will make our lives easier, develop cures for life-threatening diseases, and yet we have a hard time with people thinking outside of the box and devoting their lives to a single cause. I know someone who was always bashing nerds and geeks, but somehow didn't seem to care how geeky their oncologist was when they were faced with stage 4 cancer. They became livid when they realized that their cancer wasn't going to be fixed with a single surgery, and wondered why we didn't have more knowledge and treatments for his specific disease.

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#37 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 11:25 AM
 
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I'm going to reply before reading the rest of the thread, then I'm going to read. But I have to say that I absolutely do. I think that we play lip-service to being smart, but I think that it's lower on the list of admirable qualities held by the majority of the populace. Just look at the way our intellectual politicians (Gore, Kerry, and even Obama) have been based over the past years.

I keep saying that I want to read Richard Hofstadter's essay "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life" but I haven't gotten around to it yet!

Stacey teaching teens to read & write... Daddy plays ska, DD1 (7/05) loves trees & princesses, & DD2 (3/10) loves mommy-milk! Please get your kids tested for lead.
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#38 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 11:58 AM
 
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When I would bring up a more liberal arts degree or even a math degree, I was told that with that and a dime, I might be able to buy a cup of coffee.
And he was right. I graduated magna cum laude with a degree in literature, and now I'm washing dishes in a hospital basement.
I'd do the same again, though. Heck, I'm getting my master's in lit, too.

I think there is an intellectual subculture, at least here in the northeast - as with any subculture, though, one has to learn how to appear more or less "mainstream" when necessary.

ETA: Off topic question, but: do you think a master's in library science is something worth pursuing? I have heard rumors of librarian shortages, but also rumors of job shortages...
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#39 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 12:01 PM
 
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My bachelor's degree is actually in elementary education and I saw first hand how regurgitation is rewarded and orginal thought is dissuaded. That was part of the reason that I chose not to teach in the public school system and chose to pursue librarianship instead. When teachers had to plan two and three weeks ahead and stick to carefully designed lesson plans that took into account all of the "skills" required by state mandated testing, there just wasn't any time for teachable moments or real teaching. The teachers were just as stifled as the students.
Not finished reading the thread, but had to respond to this.

I understand your comments entirely, because I'm a public school teacher and former technologist, a product of a public school education (and one in which I was gifted and talented in 4th grade, but not in 5th grade!), and a wanna-be homeschooler. I am constantly frustrated by the system at large, the expectations of the students, the grade-grubbing by the parents, and yes, the idiotic demands of the administration. But when I go into the classroom and shut the door, and hear from my students how glad they are to be in my class because I value their thoughts and ideas and their personhood, then I'm glad that I haven't dropped out of the struggle. I read about homeschooling and try to bring those ideas into my classroom. I constantly ask myself, "How would I want my daughter's 10th grade English teacher to teach her?" and I incessantly push my students to think for themselves and clarify their beliefs/world-view while learning the skills of reading comprehension, critical thinking, clear writing, and research.

Am I a master teacher? Hell, no. This is only year five for me, and I have so much to learn. But, I believe that it's my willingness to learn to better myself and push my students out of their comfort zone that makes me an effective teacher and one who is trying to work on the system from the inside.

Do I understand the feeling that the system is unbroken and unfixable? Sure I do. But that doesn't mean that I can leave those kids whose parents won't or can't homeschool them, or can't afford to put them into a progressive private school, to be wholly indoctrinated by that broken system.

I think that the reason that (a) schools often suck and (b) teaching as a profession is relatively disparaged as a profession is that our best and brightest choose to do other things. Library Lady, I understand and empathize with your response. I just wish that more people would stay with education and try to change it.

Sigh. Deep breath. Rant over.


Stacey teaching teens to read & write... Daddy plays ska, DD1 (7/05) loves trees & princesses, & DD2 (3/10) loves mommy-milk! Please get your kids tested for lead.
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#40 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 12:31 PM
 
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And he was right. I graduated magna cum laude with a degree in literature, and now I'm washing dishes in a hospital basement.
I'd do the same again, though. Heck, I'm getting my master's in lit, too.

I think there is an intellectual subculture, at least here in the northeast - as with any subculture, though, one has to learn how to appear more or less "mainstream" when necessary.

ETA: Off topic question, but: do you think a master's in library science is something worth pursuing? I have heard rumors of librarian shortages, but also rumors of job shortages...
I knew he was right which is why I pursued education but that is another story for another day. At that time, I was kind of naive and had not developed the right attitude about learning.

I think there are intellectual subcutlures everywhere. It is just really, really hard to find them because who wants to go around publicizing it.

It is very specific to your area as to whether or not you should pursue an MLS. In Texas, there is an abundance of library jobs and the MLS is highly valued. In other states, having an MLS degree is pretty much worthless because it is not valued and isn't really required to work in a library. Check the American Library Associations web page as well asy the Library Association for your state to get a better idea of what is going on in your state.
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#41 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 12:51 PM
 
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Am I a master teacher? Hell, no. This is only year five for me, and I have so much to learn. But, I believe that it's my willingness to learn to better myself and push my students out of their comfort zone that makes me an effective teacher and one who is trying to work on the system from the inside.

Do I understand the feeling that the system is unbroken and unfixable? Sure I do. But that doesn't mean that I can leave those kids whose parents won't or can't homeschool them, or can't afford to put them into a progressive private school, to be wholly indoctrinated by that broken system.

I think that the reason that (a) schools often suck and (b) teaching as a profession is relatively disparaged as a profession is that our best and brightest choose to do other things. Library Lady, I understand and empathize with your response. I just wish that more people would stay with education and try to change it.
I understand what you are saying but it irks me for some reason. I am glad that you have been able to stick with it and try to change it from the inside. I think it takes somebody really special and determined to do that but that just isn't me. I was trying really hard to be nice and charitable in my post because I know how hard a lot of teachers work. Honestly, I found a lot of the teachers to be part of the problem. For the sake of charity, I am going to assume that my horrible experiences were related to the school that I was in as well as my supervising teacher. It was my unique experience that ruined me in regards to teaching at the K-12 level. I teach at the college level now and absolutely love it because I am trusted by my colleagues and there is a true spirit of cooperation.

Here are some of the reasons that I couldn't or wouldn't stick with it and try to change it. My classmates that were also studying to be teachers were some of the meanest and most backstabbing people I had ever met. I had to have my wisdom teeth pulled and missed a week of class so a classmate told the professors that I had dropped out of college. Somebody complained to the professors about something or another and they blamed me because I wasn't one of "them". So they used that as an opportunity to further ostracize me. I was there to learn not socialize and gossip. I later found out that the person that went to the professors was actually somebody from their group. That was just in the education classes.

Fast forward to my student teaching and it was just as bad or worse. My supervising teacher was constantly ridiculing everything I did. If I didn't do everything exactly as she said, she would mark down any and all of my observation sheets that went back to my college. I went over time on Math one day and she gave me a nice long lecture about how I wasn't supposed to do that. Other teacher in the block would ridicule me because my attitude wasn't "teacher" enough. I am assuming it was because I wasn't arrogant and didn't look down my nose at the students. We had a girl in our class that was emotionally disturbed and had a lot of issues. She was a sweet heart but she wasn't pristine like the other students and didn't wear designer clothes. I felt like the teacher was mean to her and at grade level meetings she would talk about the "trailer girl" that she had in her class. When my supervising professor came to observe, I got railed on because I said "go on ahead" rather than "go ahead". I would come home crying more often than not because the teachers were so friggin' mean and nasty to me and the students. It was never ever about learning. It was always about following the rules and playing the games. I felt like the schools were teaching kids how to be prisoners rather than productive members of society.

Sorry, but when people give me flack for walking away rather than trying to stay and change things, I get a little bit annoyed. My mental health is just not worth it. I would like to think that my experience is completely isolated but I have talked to too many ex-teachers that have had similar experiences.

Frankly, I think some of the things that I witnessed as an aspiring teacher furthers the notion that intellectualism is not valued and is actively suppressed by the school system.
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#42 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 01:14 PM
 
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Since we all seem to agree that our culture is anti-intellectual today, do any of you think there was a time when intellectualism *was* valued?
Good question. In the U.S.? The country is comparatively new. It was built "from the ground up" and needed to become self-sufficient quickly-- So, from the start, maybe there was a greater emphasis on practicality and producing members of society who could contribute in more practical ways -- farm, design and build infrastructure, care for the sick, etc. But there was also a pressing need for inventors and innovative thinkers. Knowledge was built upon and not just memorized. Perhaps because we have become so "progressive" and "ahead," we have been lulled into thinking the need is no longer there? Anyway, memorization is fine and maybe the first step in progressive thought...but then the student has to take the memorized knowledge a few steps further and apply it to unique situations. It seems simple, but is this not being done in schools anymore? Sigh. I guess I just digressed.
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#43 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 01:53 PM
 
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@library lady

Thank you so much for your response. I re-read my post and can see how it came off as an attack and also as self-righteous on my part, and for that I am really sorry. What I really wanted to convey was my frustration that so many smart people leave education because of the B-S, and then a-holes such as you describe are left running the show.

Your experience, by the way, was terrible. I wouldn't even believe it if I hadn't seen similar things myself. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. Honestly, in that situation, I think I would've high-tailed right out of the profession, too.

Stacey teaching teens to read & write... Daddy plays ska, DD1 (7/05) loves trees & princesses, & DD2 (3/10) loves mommy-milk! Please get your kids tested for lead.
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#44 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 02:17 PM
 
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What I really wanted to convey was my frustration that so many smart people leave education because of the B-S, and then a-holes such as you describe are left running the show.
It has been proven time and time again that this is the MAIN problem with the American school system. I have quite a few friends and relatives that are teachers (and, I assume, pretty good ones) but they have a REALLY hard time of it because of their coworkers and management and some are thinking about changing their careers. It's so sad.

Here's an Economist article about the topic (it's old but pretty informative) with the interesting summary:

Letting schools run themselves seems to boost a country's position in this high-stakes international tournament: giving school principals the power to control budgets, set incentives and decide whom to hire and how much to pay them. Publishing school results helps, too. More important than either, though, are high-quality teachers: a common factor among all the best performers is that teachers are drawn from the top ranks of graduates.

Here is a more recent article and another.
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#45 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 03:22 PM
 
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I think we may associate intellectualism with elitism in the US.
Absolutely.

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Intellectualism is associated with elitism because the average person gets a college degree to make money. Period.
I disagree. That's part of it, for sure, but not the entire deal. Intellectualism is associated with elitism because... well, intellectuals are elite. I mean, let's be honest here: Not everyone can be an intellectual, no matter how much they try, how long they might go to school, how much money they spend. It's something that a relatively small, elite portion of the population is capable of doing. The real problem, to my mind, is that elitism is seen as intrinsically evil. Egalitarianism is the bane of US society.

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Let's put it this way. A good friend of mine pointed out the other day she gets plenty of people being nice to her until she says something to "smart" then they turn tail and run. I say smart in quotation marks because the things she says are smart by societies standards. In our circle most of what she comes up with is average.
I've actually cultivated different mannerisms for different people. It's difficult for me, it inevitably takes a while to adjust when I meet new people, but I do it without even thinking about it. What's really funny is that if I have a drink or two, the first of the inhibitions to go are the ones preventing me from speaking the way that I think. For most people the opposite is true, but when I have two beers I get a heck of a lot geekier.

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The big part to the OP's answer will depend on how you define intellectual. I don't think one has to be gifted to be an intellectual, nor do I think one has to graduate from college.

To me an intellectual is a person who reads, a person who knows a lot about the world, has an open mind, absorbs knowledge, and is interested in learning new things. Something about classical education rings a bell... Can you be an adult intellectual and not know who Plato was? Or Tolstoy? Or how WWII came about? Or the capital of Japan? I don't know.. it's hard to define.
Being an intellectual (as with being a gifted child) is not about knowing things-- it's about the way one's mind works and the willingness & ability to learn new things. That said, I don't think the definition matters much in this case: No matter how you slice it, the US is seriously anti-intellectual.

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What I am 100% certain, is that US provides a great variety of opportunities for academically inclined individuals, and if YOU are an intellectual, you have a lot of ways to go about with your interests.
I'm not at all certain of that. The US provides the freedom for those with the time and resources to devote to it to pursue intellectual and academic opportunities, but those resources can be quite scarce. Just look at all the posts here asking for help choosing a school for a gifted child! Sure, opportunities exist, but not all of us have access to the things that we need. Not even close. BeanBean is extremely privileged to have a support system for his intellectual needs, but he is *one child* of my four and I can't say that the same is necessarily true for the rest of them. It sure as heck wasn't true for me, nor my siblings.

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Everytime we go to a library my German DH feels guilty checking out books (sometimes 20 at a time) because it's for free. He feels like he's getting away with something. And I got a couple of inter-library loans which he just thinks is TOOO COOOL!
I've got to agree-- ILL *is* too cool. It makes me feel giddy every time I get a book from out of state.

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Well, I've got to defend MDC here (although you weren't really slamming them) because I've actually been impressed by some of the posters on the MDC forums. The conversational level is generally a bit higher than most other forums I've seen: some punctuation, full sentences, decent English. If you complain about MDC than you probably haven't seen some of the OTHER forums out there (although I must say that the Well Trained Mind forums are more intellectual -- surprise, surprise).
Very true; The posts that make you want to pull your hair out (if you can even understand them) are few and far between here. That said, I tend to become more irritated with people who post extremely poorly. I'm not a grammar cop by any means (when you're writing stream-of-consciousness, you can't really afford it ) but there are some conventions which cause me to immediately dismiss everything else a poster has to say. :

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For those of you who self identify as intellectuals (and the word gives me pause, even though it shouldn't, because of cultural stereotyping) was there a period in your life when you were not an intellectual?
There was a time in my life when I thought that in order to be an intellectual, one had to know certain things. I made it my goal to learn those things, and along the way I discovered the folly of that line of thinking. I was... about six. That's when I began reading "classic children's literature" because I thought I was supposed to...

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Originally Posted by A conversation I had when I was seven
"Ah, Black Beauty. Do you like horses?"
"No, not really."
"Isn't that book about horses?"
"Yeah."
"Why are you reading it then, if you don't like horses?"
"It's a classic work of children's literature. All children are supposed to read this."
"Is your mother making you read that?"
"Of course not, don't be ridiculous. Why would she do such a silly thing?" (Please note that this last comment is an example of the juvenile nature of my thoughts: I had not yet fully absorbed the idea that every family operates differently, nor that adults could not read my mind. My mother was forever trying to take books from me so that I would go and play outside, and I assumed that this woman, a nurse, was well aware of that fact and had the same trouble with her own children. )

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Since we all seem to agree that our culture is anti-intellectual today, do any of you think there was a time when intellectualism *was* valued?
I think that intellectualism probably went out the window with the American Revolution. I figure it was seen as "European," and the baby was tossed out with the bathwater, so to speak. In short... yeah, intellectualism was almost certainly valued more highly during the Colonial Era than afterwards.

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Here are some of the reasons that I couldn't or wouldn't stick with it and try to change it. My classmates that were also studying to be teachers were some of the meanest and most backstabbing people I had ever met.
You'll find people trapped in their eleven-year-old lives allllllll over the place. : I went to a college which is well known for churning out teachers, and my problem is that ElEd was... well, it wasn't for smart people, let's put it that way. The things that came out of some of their mouths would have made my hair curl if it didn't already. Of all the education majors I encountered, I could only be paid to let three of them within 50 feet of my children. One of them was majoring in math (rather than math education), with a secondary education focus. Another was an ElEd major who had transferred from a private college where she'd started as a premed; She decided she wanted to teach, rather than make a ton of money. The third started out as a biochem major with a concentration in pharmaceuticals before she decided that she should follow her heart, rather than worrying about her wallet.

Which leads me to another aspect of this problem: Teachers are seriously undervalued and underpaid in our society. It's more evidence that we don't value intellectualism in any sense.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#46 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 04:10 PM
 
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VanessaS, you sound a lot like my friend, she never would have picked lunch or PE as her favourite part of the school day. Either science or art. I think the thing she was supposed to write about was an in class journal they were supposed to keep including how they felt about the class and other students. Well she wasn't all that consistent her reason being she didn't think it was fair to be asked to write about personal feelings, particularly towards others, when someone IN the class was going to be reading it. Well apperently that's not the right attitude towards it. She has no trouble talking to someone about how she feels about them, but she hates talking about how she feels about someone to someone else. A big no-no in her book and that's pretty much what the teacher wanted.

eilonwy, hehe I totally understand. I'm the same way. I keep my intellectualism to myself most of the time because A) I don't need people giving me funny looks and B) I really do have a hard time when people ask for an explination on things, or even a word definition. And unfortunatly it doesn't help them either, as much as I don't want to, I often find myself thinking less and less of a person if they're unable to comprehend what I consider simple ideas. Get me drunk and I don't care though

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#47 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 04:45 PM
 
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I also think anti-intellectualism in the US is rooted in fear of classism. For a long time, it was hard to get an education unless you were (a) wealthy or (b) on the way to becoming a priest. Even though more and more people in the working and middle classes are going to college, it's still got that taint of being for the elite.

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#48 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 05:27 PM
 
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MusicianDad, did you not see my request for an intro? We're always very curious about new posters. And


Rynna, it's so nice to know I'm not the only one who's posts go on and on. If it weren't for you I'd be the odd-one-out on this forum.

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You'll find people trapped in their eleven-year-old lives allllllll over the place.
:

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Teachers are seriously undervalued and underpaid in our society.
They're not always underpaid, fortunately. Some of them are really well-paid, although I think a large chunk of them could use a big raise. But there isn't actually a correllation between pay and performance for teachers as soon as their income moves them into the middle class. And an easy way to find more money for the teachers is to slim down the educational system which is bloated with people who are called teachers and earn like teachers but never spend anytime teaching. Can we say: bureaucracy?
I actually went to a relatively good school (no, that's not an oxymoron ) and the thing that left an impression on my was how good the teachers were. In the lower grades they tended to be very motivated professional educators and in the upper grades they tended to be experts in their fields who had switched to teaching later in their careers. They didn't have a lot of paperwork to do and they were left pretty much to themselves, as far as curriculum goes. They had to meet the TAAS objectives and that was about it. We had some pretty amazing classes and the teachers seemed to really enjoy their jobs. And because the schools were known for being good, it was considered a privilege to work there (the bad ones got sacked, and quickly!), and we attracted really good teachers even though they could earn more elsewhere.

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The real problem, to my mind, is that elitism is seen as intrinsically evil. Egalitarianism is the bane of US society.
Aaah, yes. I just moved to the States from a relatively socialist country (Germany) and the whole egalitarian thing makes me :Puke Just a small example: my uncle took a vacation in the US and came back complaining about all of the stupid people he had to deal with (doing simple jobs). He said, "In Germany we give all of the people who are too stupid to work an allowance so that they can stay home and don't have to bother anybody." Oh, yeah. That's how they think. And that's what the school system is like, too. They seperate the children in elementary school into 3 classes and those basically match the economic classes: wealthy and upper-middle in Gymnasium, middle and lower-middle in Realschule, and lower in the Hauptschule. They say it's separate but equal (where have we heard that before?) but it's really because they don't want their white-bread rich boys to have Turkish friends and hang out with the baker's daughter.
I believe strongly in equality of opportunity and egalitarianism is intrinsically opposed to that. Although my DH -- that closet communist -- likes to argue that egalitarianism and equality of opportunity could co-exist in an ideal world, such as one without humans.

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I've got to agree-- ILL *is* too cool. It makes me feel giddy every time I get a book from out of state.
Me too! I've actually stopped buying books now as I can do an ILL over the Internet and just have to go pick up the book and until now it's always been less than 2 days, so it's quicker than a purchase online would be.

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but there are some conventions which cause me to immediately dismiss everything else a poster has to say.
Me too. I am immediately hostile to any poster who writes IN ALL CAPS THE WHOLE ENTRY. It always feels like I'm being screamed at.

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For most people the opposite is true, but when I have two beers I get a heck of a lot geekier.
I get economic which is unfortunate as most of the people I know are economic liberals and I'm a beaten-down free-marketeer. Two cheers for NAFTA! : Sigh, it's a sad existence...
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#49 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 05:36 PM
 
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:[ot]: I've got a friend who regularly tells me that a true laissez-faire economy is the only reasonable way to go. I don't like thinking about money at all; It depresses me. [/ot]

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#50 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 06:21 PM
 
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I disagree. That's part of it, for sure, but not the entire deal. Intellectualism is associated with elitism because... well, intellectuals are elite. I mean, let's be honest here: Not everyone can be an intellectual, no matter how much they try, how long they might go to school, how much money they spend. It's something that a relatively small, elite portion of the population is capable of doing. The real problem, to my mind, is that elitism is seen as intrinsically evil. Egalitarianism is the bane of US society.
The operative word that I used was average. Intellectuals are elite but not because of their money. They are elite because they know how to think. I would speculate that there are a lot of people capable of being intellectual that choose not to because it gets them nowhere. They are motivated extrinsically rather than intrinsically. I think there is a lot of confusion between formal education, intellectual, and outright gifted. A lot of people confuse formal education with intellectual and deny that intellectualism can exist independent of formal education.

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Being an intellectual (as with being a gifted child) is not about knowing things-- it's about the way one's mind works and the willingness & ability to learn new things. That said, I don't think the definition matters much in this case: No matter how you slice it, the US is seriously anti-intellectual.
Even a complete idiot should be able to learn new things. It is the willingness that seems to be utterly lacking.

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There was a time in my life when I thought that in order to be an intellectual, one had to know certain things. I made it my goal to learn those things, and along the way I discovered the folly of that line of thinking. I was... about six. That's when I began reading "classic children's literature" because I thought I was supposed to...
Yes, it was all about what you could memorize rather than how well you could think. I grew up knowing that my oldest sister was smarter than me. I was told that she was the smartest of us all. The odd thing is that when I was in college my dad told me that I was the most logical. I tend to think things through whereas my sister reacts. She will do things out of spite even if they are illogical. I knew how to tow the line and she didn't. We both excelled in school but I was viewed by my parents to be inferior because I towed the line. I towed the line to a certain degree because I could think things through to their logical conclusion.

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I think that intellectualism probably went out the window with the American Revolution. I figure it was seen as "European," and the baby was tossed out with the bathwater, so to speak. In short... yeah, intellectualism was almost certainly valued more highly during the Colonial Era than afterwards.
My husband and I agree that the last bit of intellectualism was probably laid to rest with the founding fathers. It has gone down hill ever since and the advent of compulsory education sealed the coffin on intellectualism.

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You'll find people trapped in their eleven-year-old lives allllllll over the place. : I went to a college which is well known for churning out teachers, and my problem is that ElEd was... well, it wasn't for smart people, let's put it that way. The things that came out of some of their mouths would have made my hair curl if it didn't already. Of all the education majors I encountered, I could only be paid to let three of them within 50 feet of my children. One of them was majoring in math (rather than math education), with a secondary education focus. Another was an ElEd major who had transferred from a private college where she'd started as a premed; She decided she wanted to teach, rather than make a ton of money. The third started out as a biochem major with a concentration in pharmaceuticals before she decided that she should follow her heart, rather than worrying about her wallet.
Eleven year old lives!!!! That is hilarious. The problem that I had was that it seemed like every single person in the elementary ed. program was trapped in middle school. It wasn't one or two. I could live with that but the utter stupidity of most of the people was mind numbing. By the time I realized how horrid it was, it was too late to change my major. I was on scholarship and I didn't have the luxury of changing my major. I pretty much had to choose something right out of the gate and stick with it so I didn't run out of money. You have managed to capture the reason why I homeschool. You couldn't pay me enough to let some of the people that I went to school with around my children.

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Which leads me to another aspect of this problem: Teachers are seriously undervalued and underpaid in our society. It's more evidence that we don't value intellectualism in any sense.
I have very mixed feelings about this sentiment. Part of me wants to say that if teachers were paid better, they would get better teachers. The realistic part of me says that there is no amount of money that would get me to step into a public elementary school. The system is so broke that a little bit of money thrown at the teachers is not going magically repair the perception that people have about teachers. It is not going to make teachers suddenly quit teaching to the test. More money is not going to raise the level of professionalism with the teaching profession. No amount of money is going to suddenly make those 11 year olds grow up.
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#51 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 06:25 PM
 
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I believe strongly in equality of opportunity and egalitarianism is intrinsically opposed to that.
How so?

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I get economic which is unfortunate as most of the people I know are economic liberals and I'm a beaten-down free-marketeer.
I love this topic, too!
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#52 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 07:14 PM
 
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Okay, this is totally off-topic...

Equality of opportunity means that we try to achieve similarly advantageous starting points (good prenatal care, good childhood medical care, excellent education, stable families (as far as we can affect that)) so that each person has the chance to reach their true potential or to "pursue happiness" in equal amounts. But this would not result in an egalitarian society as some people would be able to achieve and advance more than others. In egalitarianism, you lower the state of the top and raise those of the bottom in order to get everybody to a similar point. That's why my engineer DH earned peanuts in Germany and has gotten a large income-increase just by working for an American company. And why it's so expensive to hire a handyman in Germany that you'd have to be insane to do it.

Then there are the countries like Finland that put a lot of effort into EO and then make it pointless by topping it off with egalitarianism. There's a reason why they have such great schools but an exodus of their best minds (and it's not just the weather).
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#53 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 10:47 PM
 
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MusicianDad, did you not see my request for an intro? We're always very curious about new posters. And
Ah, sorry no, didn't see it. I sort of... well, skimmed most of the responses:.(ok that guy's just creepy.)

I'm not really sure if I'll stay here to be honest. Dh and I believe our dd is gifted, but it's never been said officially. Um does that count?

I was just interested by the title of the topic because I do know plenty of people who are gifted. OK, this is starting to turn into an intro so I'll just go start a new thread and you all can get back to your conversation.

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#54 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 11:08 PM
 
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yep, absolutely. our culture is horrifyingly anti-intellectual.

but if you play your cards right and surround yourself with other people who value intellectual pursuits, you don't have to remain bitter about it for long :

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#55 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 11:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not really sure if I'll stay here to be honest. Dh and I believe our dd is gifted, but it's never been said officially. Um does that count?

I
Heck yeah it counts. Parents are excellent judges of whether or not their kids are gifted.

Another question - do you think people are born intellectuals, or do you think it develops as we age? Nature and/or nurture?

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#56 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 11:11 PM
 
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yep, absolutely. our culture is horrifyingly anti-intellectual.

but if you play your cards right and surround yourself with other people who value intellectual pursuits, you don't have to remain bitter about it for long :
Yeah, that's what we did.:

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#57 of 229 Old 07-30-2008, 12:35 AM
 
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Even a complete idiot should be able to learn new things. It is the willingness that seems to be utterly lacking.
I disagree, but that's beside the point: Not everyone can learn to be "an intellectual." It's sort of like saying that everyone can learn to have a sense of direction. I'm living proof that it's just not the case. (Note: If you believe that it is possible to teach or somehow impart a sense of direction, I would LOVE a PM from you. My lack of direction sense is... well, crippling. It has a severe and negative impact on my quality of life.)

My mother used to rant about this all the time, because a lot of children's television emphasizes the "keep trying" philosophy. Not everyone can learn to do everything even if they try, and that's okay-- it'd be pretty useless to exist as a species if we didn't have people who were better at some things than others.

Anyway, I think a lot of people are willing but unable.

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I have very mixed feelings about this sentiment. Part of me wants to say that if teachers were paid better, they would get better teachers. The realistic part of me says that there is no amount of money that would get me to step into a public elementary school. The system is so broke that a little bit of money thrown at the teachers is not going magically repair the perception that people have about teachers. It is not going to make teachers suddenly quit teaching to the test. More money is not going to raise the level of professionalism with the teaching profession. No amount of money is going to suddenly make those 11 year olds grow up.
The system is most assuredly broken, and it's true that no amount of money is going to make 11-year-olds into adults, but yes-- I think that more money would probably help to inspire more people to become teachers. More to the point, I think that the people who want to change the world and the educational system often feel that their hands are tied by their complete lack of funds. It'd help. So would raising the standards for teachers to graduate. I'll never forget listening to ElEd majors complain about things like having to learn algebra (not trig, not even algebraic long division-- I'm talking about *basic* algebra): I'm only going to teach third grade, why should I have to know more than fifth grade math? The way they moaned about having to take the easiest courses for their GenEd requirements just made me shudder. I'll admit that part of it was my own elitist attitude, but mostly it was the overall attitude toward learning that ticked me off. I'd made the decision to homeschool my kids years earlier, but meeting people who were supposed to be teaching kids to love learning and hearing them complain about having to do just that... when they'd *chosen* it... UGH.

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but if you play your cards right and surround yourself with other people who value intellectual pursuits, you don't have to remain bitter about it for long :
Some of us are dealt super crappy hands. Thank all the gods that be for the internet.

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Another question - do you think people are born intellectuals, or do you think it develops as we age? Nature and/or nurture?
As with everything else, both. Toddler philosophers abound, though. Two-year-old logic is something to behold.

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#58 of 229 Old 07-30-2008, 01:03 AM
 
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I agree that both nature and nurture play a part in intellectualism, just as in intelligence, but I think that the balance tips toward nurture in regards to intellectualism, while the opposite is true for intelligence.

I also think that US culture is anti-intellectual. There is clearly a push toward being successful in school, but well-roundedness trumps a singular focus on "academics" in the vast majority of people's minds.

I also have to say, I went to an elite college, and never encountered professors who looked for regurgitation instead of original thought and analysis.

During my master's program in education, certainly the rigor was lacking. However, as a teacher, especially in problem-solving for my students with disabilities, original thought and analysis were very much valued by the administration and the parents I worked with.
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#59 of 229 Old 07-30-2008, 01:13 AM
 
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I disagree, but that's beside the point: Not everyone can learn to be "an intellectual." It's sort of like saying that everyone can learn to have a sense of direction. I'm living proof that it's just not the case. (Note: If you believe that it is possible to teach or somehow impart a sense of direction, I would LOVE a PM from you. My lack of direction sense is... well, crippling. It has a severe and negative impact on my quality of life.)

My mother used to rant about this all the time, because a lot of children's television emphasizes the "keep trying" philosophy. Not everyone can learn to do everything even if they try, and that's okay-- it'd be pretty useless to exist as a species if we didn't have people who were better at some things than others.

Anyway, I think a lot of people are willing but unable.
I think we are in agreement but are saying things differently. (I have a knack for being clear as mud sometimes.) I was talking about the basic ability to think. Being intellectual requires a lot more than just the basic ability to think.

I didn't say that people could learn to be intellectuals. I said they could learn things. What those "things" are is entirely up to the unique individual based upon the gifts that they were given. I think everybody has some sort of ability that could be cultivated if they could recognize that unique ability. How many people are forced into pursuing avenues that do not suit them at all? When you teach to the masses, the individual is forgotten. I honestly think that there is too much of an emphasis on formal education and there needs to be more of a return to trade schools and alternate ways of etching out your niche. I do think that some people are willing but unable but I also think that some people are able but unwilling. I am willing to be a musician but that is something that I am incapable of doing. I was talking about thinking as in "I think therefore I am." Not to be crass but I have to wonder if some people even exist because the thought that is put out is almost nil.

Like you, I have no sense of direction. Tell me left or right where the nearest store it but do not start with the east, west, stuff....I think people's ability to learn "things" is stifled because they are forced to do stuff that they will never ever get no matter how hard they try. Like you say, some people just do not have the brain capacity to be intellectual. I am okay with that, but when schools/society/whatever takes away the basic willingness to learn on any level, society as a whole becomes even dumber. I tried to use generic terms such as things and stuff because I was trying to leave it open to include non-intellectual ideas as well as concrete skills.

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The system is most assuredly broken, and it's true that no amount of money is going to make 11-year-olds into adults, but yes-- I think that more money would probably help to inspire more people to become teachers. More to the point, I think that the people who want to change the world and the educational system often feel that their hands are tied by their complete lack of funds. It'd help. So would raising the standards for teachers to graduate. I'll never forget listening to ElEd majors complain about things like having to learn algebra (not trig, not even algebraic long division-- I'm talking about *basic* algebra): I'm only going to teach third grade, why should I have to know more than fifth grade math? The way they moaned about having to take the easiest courses for their GenEd requirements just made me shudder. I'll admit that part of it was my own elitist attitude, but mostly it was the overall attitude toward learning that ticked me off. I'd made the decision to homeschool my kids years earlier, but meeting people who were supposed to be teaching kids to love learning and hearing them complain about having to do just that... when they'd *chosen* it... UGH.
I think raising the standards for teachers as a whole is more important than any amount of money. Maybe this is the intellectual elitist talking but I do not want to be surrounded by the type of people that are going into teaching. The money might attract more people but it isn't going to keep them. As a whole, our society is going to have learn how to like learning and it is going to have to start with the teachers.

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Some of us are dealt super crappy hands. Thank all the gods that be for the internet.
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#60 of 229 Old 07-30-2008, 01:16 AM
 
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However, as a teacher, especially in problem-solving for my students with disabilities, original thought and analysis were very much valued by the administration and the parents I worked with.
Oh, I'm always very appreciative when teachers are willing to think and analyze. It just seems to be the exception, rather than the rule.

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