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

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#1 of 229 Old 07-27-2008, 11:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you think North American culture is anti-intellectual?

How do think our collective attitudes towards intellectualism affect our children - and their future?

Kathy
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#2 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 12:13 AM
 
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Well, it varies widely depending on the various circles in which you travel....but you are asking about North America as a whole. I think society values high achievers more than it value intellectuals. Intellectuals who are also high achievers are valued. So, society values "intellectual," inventive achievers such as Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, etc., but also values the physical achievements of professional athletes, the financial achievements of the rich, the self-evident beauty of the beautiful, etc. Many children will want to achieve the type of success that is valued by society as a whole.
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#3 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 02:06 AM
 
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Yes, I do. Ever heard the phrase "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."? That about sums up the US-American culture about education/knowledge.

Our society values people who make money and/or accumulate a lot of things. It doesn't value intellectual achievement. I can't tell you how many conversations I've stopped just by telling people that I'm a professor. You don't get the same reaction if you're an engineer or a construction worker or a doctor, but you do if your occupation is clearly intellectual.

I worked at a store during high school where they rented camping/skiing equipment. I remember one of the owners in particular who would rant about how those "engineers and academics" didn't know anything useful.

I'm probably biased because I live in a state that doesn't adequately fund any level of education, especially higher education!

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#4 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 08:01 AM
 
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Definitely. And in the African-American community (which I'm part of) it's chronic.
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#5 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 08:23 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
Do you think North American culture is anti-intellectual?
Yes, I do. Traditional U.S. culture promotes the idea that people can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and achieve anything with hard work. I think this strong belief is directly at odds with the concept of varying degrees of natural intelligence. Plus, I think traditional U.S. culture is kind of macho and it perceives intellectualism as being stuck-up and pretentious.
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#6 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think on a whole, North American culture is anti-intellectual.

My son is a classic underachiever. I think part of this is due to be under-challenged but part of it is probably due to absorbing messages that being smart is uncool. Goodness knows Itry to combat these messages, but I do not seem to be getting far...... Maybe it will have an effect over time.

I have also noted, repeatedly, that it is OK for parents to claim their kids are good at sports or drawing and no one says a word. Say your child is gifted and 1/2 the population thinks you are a hot housing-swollen headed-delusional.

Ah, well, my vent for the day.

Of course, figuring out how to help children shine in the face of cultural pressure is the question.

Kathy
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#7 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 10:55 AM
 
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I will try not to get on my soapbox but be forewarned just in case.

The US is very anti-intellectual. People look up to Bill Gates and value his intelligence because he has MONEY. His intelligence has nothing to do with it. People look up to his money. People value Albert Einstein now but during his time he was not valued. You can look up Einstein and see that he had to have help getting a job and was passed over for promotions. (Quick look up in Wiki.)

Who gets picked on in school the most? It certainly isn't the jocks. It is the geeks (aka intellectuals). My husband is very intellectual and ended up having to play football to gain acceptance in school. My husband and I have a group of friends and we are always talking about people like us. When we all met, we tried to be cool and hide the intellectualism because that seems like an automatic mark against you. When we all let our guards down, we figured out that most of us had been labeled gifted as kids. We had all graduated in the top of our class. A couple of us have master's degrees and the list goes on. We were laughing at how big of freaks we all are and how we don't fit in if we be out intellectual selves. Any and all acceptance comes from the neighborhood you live in, what kind of car you drive, the type of clothes you wear, and how much money you spend.

Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is completely devalued. When I worked outside the home, I told somebody about homeschooling and eventually staying home and I was asked why I was going to waste my degree. How can any education ever be considered a waste? What happened to learning stuff just because? Most people pursue education for the money that it will enable them to earn. It has absolutely nothing to do with expanding your mind or learning how to think. Being able to think and be intellectual is not valued. I think it is actually discouraged and turned into something bad. The US has turned into a nation of test takers. It is all about passing the test. It is no longer about learning. It is no longer about thinking for yourself. It is no longer about teaching you valuable skills about how to think.

(Stepping off my soap box.)
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#8 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 11:21 AM
 
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Library lady (the name says it all; I am also a library-fan): I am not worthy!


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Say your child is gifted and 1/2 the population thinks you are a hot housing-swollen headed-delusional.
It's even worse if you make the mistake of pointing out that your NON-VERBAL children are gifted.
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#9 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 11:58 AM
 
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Library lady (the name says it all; I am also a library-fan): I am not worthy!
DH and I are both librarians. We couldn't figure out what we wanted to do so we became librarians because we love all knowledge. Can you get more intellectual that that?

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It's even worse if you make the mistake of pointing out that your NON-VERBAL children are gifted.
I learned a long time ago that being gifted is not something that you talk about. Nope, nu-uh, not gonna happen.

People can go around bragging about getting full tuition scholarships for playing football or other sports but if you tell somebody you got a full tuition scholarship for being an egghead, you just become a freak that brags.

Muscle power and spending power is awesome! Brain power sucks!
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#10 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 01:01 PM
 
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"People look up to Bill Gates and value his intelligence because he has MONEY. His intelligence has nothing to do with it. People look up to his money."

I, for one, value his inventiveness and intelligence in the field of computers, not his $. See, I'm not even usuing MDC's quote feature correctly.

"Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is completely devalued. . . . What happened to learning stuff just because? Most people pursue education for the money that it will enable them to earn. It has absolutely nothing to do with expanding your mind or learning how to think. Being able to think and be intellectual is not valued. . . . The US has turned into a nation of test takers. It is all about passing the test. It is no longer about learning. It is no longer about thinking for yourself. It is no longer about teaching you valuable skills about how to think."

I agree with the above. In general, I find Europeans to be more "knowledge for the sake of knowledge" people. I think we may associate intellectualism with elitism in the US. Many people study trades or go to college to get "practical" degrees with which they can get a job and make a living and cannot "afford the luxury" of obtaining a liberal arts degree or do not understand the practical purpose of doing same. (Don't flame me -- I'm one of those elitist liberal arts majors )
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#11 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 01:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Freeman View Post
"People look up to Bill Gates and value his intelligence because he has MONEY. His intelligence has nothing to do with it. People look up to his money."

I, for one, value his inventiveness and intelligence in the field of computers, not his $. See, I'm not even usuing MDC's quote feature correctly.
Your opinion doesn't count because you are one of THEM. (Or should I say us.)


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"
I agree with the above. In general, I find Europeans to be more "knowledge for the sake of knowledge" people. I think we may associate intellectualism with elitism in the US. Many people study trades or go to college to get "practical" degrees with which they can get a job and make a living and cannot "afford the luxury" of obtaining a liberal arts degree or do not understand the practical purpose of doing same. (Don't flame me -- I'm one of those elitist liberal arts majors )
Intellectualism is associated with elitism because the average person gets a college degree to make money. Period. College degree does not equal intellectual. When I was in college, I was talking to my dad about a major. He dissuaded from doing anything that wasn't practical. I ended up majoring in education at his prodding because teachers can always find jobs. It is a steady gig and you get summer vacations, blah, blah, blah. It wasn't about the knowledge at all. It was all about getting the degree to get a regular paying, steady job. 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.
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#12 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 01:53 PM
 
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ITA with library lady. I love to learn. Just to learn. No ulterior motive, it's just FUN. OMG, did I just say learning was FUN??? I hope to pass that on to my kids. Just learn because it's interesting, not so you can pass a test/class/get a degree/make more money. It's the whole reason we are unschooling. Just living life, learning what is interesting, even if it doesn't help us 'get anything'.
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#13 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 05:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Freeman View Post
"People look up to Bill Gates and value his intelligence because he has MONEY. His intelligence has nothing to do with it. People look up to his money."

I, for one, value his inventiveness and intelligence in the field of computers, not his $. See, I'm not even usuing MDC's quote feature correctly.
Actually, his inventiveness is his ability to steal great, artistic ideas from Steve Jobs, and then butcher them into crud. But I suppose that is for another post.

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Originally Posted by Freeman View Post
"Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is completely devalued. . . . What happened to learning stuff just because? Most people pursue education for the money that it will enable them to earn. It has absolutely nothing to do with expanding your mind or learning how to think. Being able to think and be intellectual is not valued. . . . The US has turned into a nation of test takers. It is all about passing the test. It is no longer about learning. It is no longer about thinking for yourself. It is no longer about teaching you valuable skills about how to think."

I agree with the above. In general, I find Europeans to be more "knowledge for the sake of knowledge" people. I think we may associate intellectualism with elitism in the US. Many people study trades or go to college to get "practical" degrees with which they can get a job and make a living and cannot "afford the luxury" of obtaining a liberal arts degree or do not understand the practical purpose of doing same. (Don't flame me -- I'm one of those elitist liberal arts majors )
Sometimes a little practicality is also a wise choice. I went to art college. I would have preferred majoring in painting or photography. But I majored in design, because I realized how insane it would be to make any money painting. When I say money, I don't mean wealthy. I mean enough to eat and pay rent. Choosing design allowed me to have the freedom to live on my own, do what I wanted how and when, and have a lot of free time for painting. I was able to support myself, and not be dependent on my family or a man. There is value in that.

I live in Europe now, and I suppose if I had been here all my life, I may have majored in fine art, because the government here would have financially supported me. Again, not wealthy, but I would have been able to have food, clothing, shelter. However, I would not have had my career. I would not have traveled so much, and I would not have met my marvelous DH and had my two lovely children. Who knows where I would be. Maybe in a worse place, maybe a better place, maybe just a different place.

Ramble over. Back to the discussion. :
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#14 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 06:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Freeman View Post
"People look up to Bill Gates and value his intelligence because he has MONEY. His intelligence has nothing to do with it. People look up to his money."

I, for one, value his inventiveness and intelligence in the field of computers, not his $. See, I'm not even usuing MDC's quote feature correctly.

"Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is completely devalued. . . . What happened to learning stuff just because? Most people pursue education for the money that it will enable them to earn. It has absolutely nothing to do with expanding your mind or learning how to think. Being able to think and be intellectual is not valued. . . . The US has turned into a nation of test takers. It is all about passing the test. It is no longer about learning. It is no longer about thinking for yourself. It is no longer about teaching you valuable skills about how to think."

I agree with the above. In general, I find Europeans to be more "knowledge for the sake of knowledge" people. I think we may associate intellectualism with elitism in the US. Many people study trades or go to college to get "practical" degrees with which they can get a job and make a living and cannot "afford the luxury" of obtaining a liberal arts degree or do not understand the practical purpose of doing same. (Don't flame me -- I'm one of those elitist liberal arts majors )
Just a lurker here as neither myself nor my kids are gifted (smart, but I don't think gifted), but I have to say how much I agree with this whole thing! I hear this also as a SAHM, I have a bachelor's degree, but some think I "wasted my time" getting it. Forget all the wonderful knowledge and life experiences I had! Plus, I am proud to say my parents are definitely of the value knowledge for knowledge's sake and the enrichment it provides to life. My mom at age 57 went back to school for her master's in theology just because she wanted to learn more and deepen her faith, and my dad provided all of the physical and moral support so that she could do this. I know a lot of people (my in-laws included) thought it was a bit crazy if she was not going to use it to get a job, but she has greatly enjoyed and benefitted from it, and volunteers a lot at church to use her knowledge. Good for you for keeping this up!

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#15 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 06:18 PM
 
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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.

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#16 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 06:27 PM
 
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I do. But the weird thing is that noone that doesn't agree with this is going to look at this post probably. Just the title will turn people off. I don't mean to slam other mdc members, but a post about sales at target would probably get more hits.:
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#17 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 06:31 PM
 
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Well not to slam MDC mom's either, but the people who would be put off by the title probably hasn't had to deal with being a gifted person or parent of a gifted person in North America.

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#18 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 06:39 PM
 
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Sometimes a little practicality is also a wise choice. I went to art college. I would have preferred majoring in painting or photography. But I majored in design, because I realized how insane it would be to make any money painting. When I say money, I don't mean wealthy. I mean enough to eat and pay rent. Choosing design allowed me to have the freedom to live on my own, do what I wanted how and when, and have a lot of free time for painting. I was able to support myself, and not be dependent on my family or a man. There is value in that.
I hate the fact that college degree (in any discipline) is required in order for somebody to be considered intellectual. When I think of intellectual, I think of somebody that is willing to think for themselves and make choices for themselves based on their own knowledge. They seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge whether it is formally or informally. Plenty of people from the older generations have all sorts of knowledge and some of them didn't make it past the 8th grade. I have known plenty of people with degrees that know how to study and pass classes but still can't think. I hope that makes sense.

I don't see anything wrong with choosing a practical degree but at the same time it should be recognized that if you are in a position to learn something (be it formally or informally) you should do it because you never know when it will come in handy.
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#19 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 07:30 PM
 
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I do think some areas of US society are anti-intellectual.

I'm a nerdy person, 'gifted' as a kid, who reads like crazy and loves to learn. I talk about what I am interested in and things have read with all kinds of people. Most people tell me I'm 'very smart' or that I 'really think about things'. Many people also tell me I'm weird! But I've never felt that I've been looked down upon by anyone because I know a lot of stuff. On the contrary I'm approached by a lot by people who want information that I have. I was always the kid in school that everyone cheated from (and I was always glad to let them, because I wasn't interested in my grades).

However I am also pretty plain about the fact that I dropped out of high school, have no plans so far to attend college, and that I believe higher education is a business and currently highly overpriced, and unless you have specific career goals in mind, a great way to get into debt while you waffle, and never get out.

So I can hardly be counted as an 'intellectual'.

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I hate the fact that college degree (in any discipline) is required in order for somebody to be considered intellectual. When I think of intellectual, I think of somebody that is willing to think for themselves and make choices for themselves based on their own knowledge. They seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge whether it is formally or informally. Plenty of people from the older generations have all sorts of knowledge and some of them didn't make it past the 8th grade. I have known plenty of people with degrees that know how to study and pass classes but still can't think. I hope that makes sense.
It seems like 'intellectual' these days means, 'someone who is extensively conventionally educated, and believes anyone else who isn't has subpar intelligence'.

I sure know a lot of clueless idiots (maybe not with low IQs, but with no common sense, orginality or critical thinking skills) who went to very good colleges.
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#20 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 07:43 PM
 
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I sure know a lot of clueless idiots (maybe not with low IQs, but with no common sense, orginality or critical thinking skills) who went to very good colleges.
Yeah I know a lot of those too. They have a good education, have a job that is often associated with intelligence, but they are completely and utterly hopeless when it comes to common sense, critical thinking or intelligent decision making.

My friend made an interesting observation back when she started post-secondary. She said, the people who do well in school are the people who are capable of regurgitating the information force fed to them in a way the instructor likes. She also pointed out this was more true in elementary and high school, but still noticeable in later education.

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#21 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 07:55 PM
 
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When I moved to the US I was surprised by the fact how little Americans were aware of the world outside the US. I am still baffled by the level of mathematics at schools that is considered "normal". The knowledge of classics written by non-American writers is at a amazingly low level. :

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.

In short, I don't think there is a simple answer to this question. As imperfect as American society is, I've known far worse, and it would be a shame for me to throw stones, kwim? I think there are plenty of venues for those who want to broaden their intellectual horizons in the US. Starting from National Geographic subscription, to opportunities to travel the world with archeological digs. I think the US is such a big country that you are bound to witness the good, the bad and the ugly. I'm guessing there are areas that are more intellectual than others, if you wish.

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 have too many thoughts on the subject. A great topic

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#22 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 08:03 PM
 
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It seems like 'intellectual' these days means, 'someone who is extensively conventionally educated, and believes anyone else who isn't has subpar intelligence'.
I like this definition from Wikipedia: "An intellectual (involving thought and reason) is one who tries to use his or her intelligence and analytical thinking in either his profession or personal pursuits."

Equating intellectual with conventional education just furthers the anti-intellectual culture. It creates false stereotypes to further encourage a lack of intellectualism. You can have intelligence and think analytically without ever stepping foot in a traditional classroom. The people that are conventionally educated and look down their noses at others are the ones that are trying to convince themselves that they are intellectual. A true intellectual would be able to see beyond the confines of the traditional stereotypes.
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#23 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 08:24 PM
 
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My friend made an interesting observation back when she started post-secondary. She said, the people who do well in school are the people who are capable of regurgitating the information force fed to them in a way the instructor likes. She also pointed out this was more true in elementary and high school, but still noticeable in later education.
I have a couple different thoughts on this.

First, the school system is set up to create workers that tow the line. When I was in grad school, I had to read a book and do a presentation. I don't remember the book but I remember that it was about technology and getting people locked in. The product that succeeds is actually the one that gets the most people locked in. It doesn't matter which one is actually superior. It's about which one can dupe the most people. Anyway, it was one of those moments of revelation because higher education is all about lock in. The SAT and all of those other tests for college are to help see who they can most likely lock in. If you aren't a good test taker, then you will not succeed in college so they don't want you. They want good test takers so that they can be sure you don't drop out and they continue to get your money. It has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence.

I think the regurgitation culture is filtering into the colleges more and more. I work with a graduate level class and I am amazed at the number of students that are unable to read and understand directions. If every little detail is not clearly spelled out, they are asking how we want it done. We give a basic rubric and basic instructions but how they carry it out is really up to them. You have no idea how many e-mails I get where students are asking, "I am going to do X, is that okay?" Ten different students ask the same question in a slightly different manner because they didn't understand it the first ten times. I have no problems with this because it is my job and I thoroughly enjoy it. (Please don't think I am complaining about the individual students.) The problem that I have is that this has become the norm. We don't spell out every little detail because we want them to learn and think for themselves and students don't quite know how to handle it because most of them haven't been asked to do it.
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#24 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 08:59 PM
 
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Actually, his inventiveness is his ability to steal great, artistic ideas from Steve Jobs, and then butcher them into crud.
And from IBM. Although you could argue that his genius, all along, has been to identify promising technologies and find ways to popularize them. That's a special kind of talent, too.

MusicianDad, does this mean the gifty forum FINALLY has a man posting?! Or two? Is your daughter gifted? Introductions, please.

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Sometimes a little practicality is also a wise choice.
I chose something practical (software engineering) because I simply wasn't good enough for my dream job (literature critic -- you're either the best or you starve). Of course, I found my studies mind-numbingly boring and dropped out but I ended up in software quality assurance which is sort of a mix of the two. And now I'm wasting my intellect as a homemaker and homeschooler...

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Yeah I know a lot of those too.
Me too.
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#25 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 09:08 PM
 
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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.
This is very true. All I can say is we just got back from Germany and we are absolutely impressed by two things: libraries and homeschooling. And combining the two is just draw-dropping awesome. :

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!

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I don't mean to slam other mdc members, but a post about sales at target would probably get more hits.
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).
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#26 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 09:39 PM
 
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1. Yes, absolutely anti-intellectual as a whole, though it can vary widely according to region.

2. I have been pleased to find the level of discourse very high at MDC -- seriously, google some random parenting thing and see what churns up.

3. I agree that formal education is a useless marker for intellectualism. Plenty of stupid a-holes with Ph.Ds from Ivy League schools, plenty of high school dropouts with an innate love of learning and knowledge.

4. I am fortunate enough to have a dad who encouraged me NOT to "choose a trade" at college, and then who is a huge supporter of my staying at home w/kid. (We will leave aside the issue of old-fashioned sexism for the purposes of this post. ) My family was always an island of intellectuals in the midst of...well, people who actively hated on us for reading books.
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#27 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 11:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by library lady View Post
I think the regurgitation culture is filtering into the colleges more and more. I work with a graduate level class and I am amazed at the number of students that are unable to read and understand directions. If every little detail is not clearly spelled out, they are asking how we want it done. We give a basic rubric and basic instructions but how they carry it out is really up to them. You have no idea how many e-mails I get where students are asking, "I am going to do X, is that okay?" Ten different students ask the same question in a slightly different manner because they didn't understand it the first ten times. I have no problems with this because it is my job and I thoroughly enjoy it. (Please don't think I am complaining about the individual students.) The problem that I have is that this has become the norm. We don't spell out every little detail because we want them to learn and think for themselves and students don't quite know how to handle it because most of them haven't been asked to do it.
They're taught that in high school unfortunately. If they don't do it exactly like the teacher expects they get low or failing grades. 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. The question specifically asked for an opinion. Confused the heck out of her cause as far as she knew an opinion couldn't be wrong. So the students start looking for exactly what the teacher wants and by the time they get to college they have a hard time with doing it their own way. :

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#28 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 11:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for replying everyone!

Library lady...I am also a librarian - although not by trade. I studied Art Education in University. I work part - time in a tiny rural library. It is a very cool job.

While I absolutley do think our collective culture is anti-intellectual, I also see a bit of progress in this area. I think things like the Harry Potter phenomena (which makes reading look cool) help. I believe the internet has been a great boon for intellectuals of all sorts. Not only is their oodles of info online on a huge variety of topics, but message boards help decrease the isolation.

On the negative side, I think schools are far less intellectually challenging or oriented than when I was in school. To discuss it would be a thread in itself.

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
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#29 of 229 Old 07-28-2008, 11:39 PM
 
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They're taught that in high school unfortunately. If they don't do it exactly like the teacher expects they get low or failing grades. 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. The question specifically asked for an opinion. Confused the heck out of her cause as far as she knew an opinion couldn't be wrong. So the students start looking for exactly what the teacher wants and by the time they get to college they have a hard time with doing it their own way. :
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.
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#30 of 229 Old 07-29-2008, 12:17 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
That is a tough question. I think I was more intellectual before I started kindergarten because I didn't have to please anybody. My dad is the antithesis of popular culture. He doesn't give a rat's patooty what the rest of the world thinks. I hung out with my dad all the time and he is very intellectual and is always pushing people to think outside of themselves even if he does encourage practicality. I tend to be a people pleaser by nature so when I got to school I worked to please my teachers and learning was more an excercise in doing what was required rather than pursuing knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Frankly, school was too easy most of the time and it wasn't fun either. It was just a place to go because I had to. I learned a lot more about business, life, and who knows what else by hanging out with my dad.

In retrospect, I think college was more of the same. I did well and I gained a lot of knowledge but I don't think I really appreciated it until I got out of school. While in school, I never really thought of myself as intellectual. I was just another geek trying to get through school and go to college. I always felt that there was a ton of people out there that were smarter/better than me for a variety of reasons. I never really thought of myself as that intelligent. When I was in high school, we had to write a computer program in BASIC for one of my classes. The output was supposed to list 3 numbers in order. I wrote a very short program and the teacher rejected it because he wanted us to go through the process of testing each number individually rather than the shorter/easier way. I was very content to be a mediocre honor's student. Why should I think about some of that stuff? I can't remember most of it anyway because it had absolutely no relevance to me at all.

I don't think I really became intellectual until I met my husband who would engage me in logical arguments and debates. Until I met him, I had never really met anybody that was able to engage me or truly appreciate knowledge. I had friends but they weren't interested in the same things that I was or they came from different backgrounds. I didn't fit with the smart kids so I hung around with the stereotypical dumb crowd, which was very stifling. I think it has been a gradual process that has required some deprogramming on my part. Having the Internet and message boards as a kid would have been a great thing because you don't have to deal with all of the social awkwardness or stereotypes. People in cyberspace don't know where you live, what kind of car your drive, or what brand of clothes you wear.

My older girls (4 & 7) absolutely love to learn. I feel like school is really good at stifling creativity and curiosity which is why we embrace a lifestyle of learning. Learning for us isn't something that is isolated to the hours of 8-5. It is something we do from the time we wake up in the morning until the time we go to bed. Nothing stifles intellectualism quicker than trying to put it in a neat little package that you can test. My daughters are encouraged to ask about and explore any topic that interests them even if it may be a little advanced for them. I always hated getting the "you're too young for that" speach.
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