[New-Poetry] "The Crisis of the Humanities Officially Arrives"
bobgrumman at nut-n-but.net
Fri Oct 15 00:25:10 EDT 2010
On 10/14/2010 9:10 PM, Mark Weiss wrote:
>> I'm against government subsidies, but since we can't avoid them, one
>> I'd like to see would be a full-scale neurophysiology-based study of
>> epistemology to determine just how people learn. It'd be interesting
>> to see the results of a long-term study of a million or more people
>> from birth to the age of fifty and try to analyze why some turn out
>> well by their own standards and some don't, and why some turn out
>> well by society's standards and some don't. I doubt that such a
>> study would be feasible, or could cover all the variables that it'd
>> have to, not to mention how politicians out for votes would allow any
>> of the inevitably anti-egalitarian results to be widely known, much
>> less acted upon by educational institutes.
> It's not always subsidies. A lot of grants are fees for service. Much
> of the basic research and engineering that the government buys is
> performed by universities.
Right. But I would consider the part of a university that is research
and development for the government (and stifled in many ways by that,
the government dictating hiring and firing practices, for instance)
outside the university as educational institute.
> There's a lot of research on how people learn. Turns out there's more
> than one way. No surprise there. And of course a lot of variables, as
> you say.
Not neurophysiologically-based, and extremely undeveloped from what I've
read of it. But, yes, many different ways of learning, as simple
school-teachers could have told us, and did, a century or more ago.
You know, I don't even think the "learning" the psychologists write
about has a proper definition.
> Your idea for a grand fifty year study has a bunch of fatal flaws, not
> least that studying why someone "turns out well by society's
> standards" would certainly influence the behavior of those being studied.
You wouldn't tell them they were being studied.
> And the there's the question of what that criterion means. Do poets
> qualify as that kind of success? Does Donald Trump? Are there maybe a
> whole lot of different answers?
I think defining what I'd call socio-economic success would be easy.
Amount of money made and kept. Other forms of "objective success" could
be determined. ("Subjective" success being any person's belief that
he'd had or was having a good life.) Lifetime socio-cultural success
would be exactly what it is now: awards won, number and size of mentions
by critics, etc. Permanent socio-cultural success would be measured
fifty or a hundred years after the person being rated died by his
importance in reference books, number of statues, buildings and parks
named after him, etc. Certainly you'd miss people, but them's the
breaks. Certainly, too, there would be disagreements, and constant
discussion of definitions. For instance, about just how important some
perhaps bad poet was because he added something of huge importance to
the poet's tool kit.
Or you could make a computer program based on me that would rate
everything. Seriously, I think some kind of computer programs could
take care of a lot of this. Without anymore dissension than rating
processes suffer now.
It'd be ridiculously better a guide than percentage of students that get
college degrees, which seems the main way of measuring an educational
>> (I just read somewhere that some study showed that home-taught kids
>> come out between the sixtieth percentile and eightieth percentile on
>> the SATs--or whatever the main test is, the idea being that the
>> home-taught have better educations than the publicly-taught, the
>> possibility that smart people prefer home-teaching for their kids,
>> who do better because of their genes, not their formal education, is
>> not considered.)
> Aghain, a bunch of variables. Home schoolers come in basically two
> varieties, religious types who want to protect their children from sin
> in the form of, among other things, much of science, and highly
> educated folks likely to have lots of books in the house who have an
> income sufficient to allow one parent to stay home. All that attention
> may be good for a kid (except when it's not), but also the level of
> accomplishment of the parents is likely a factor in the children's
> school success (or at least their success at standardiized tests). I'd
> be willing to bet that no matter how educated children of the educated
> and professional do better than average, perhaps as well as the home
> educated of the same class, and that the home-schooled fundamentalist
> kids don't do as well.
Yes, in my stumbling way, I was referring to this. I'm not sure about
the level of the fundamentalists. I guest taught a few classes of them
and they caught on to visual poetry much better than adults I've had
workshops for. I had them create their own poems, and had trouble
interpreting some because Jesus was important in them, and I fear I
wasn't looking for Him. But they did very well by Him. I think many of
them are innately very focused, and effective at narrow kinds of
thinking. They have strong character, which is necessary for resisting
secularism. They, indeed, may have just the right kind of mind to pick
up the kind of learning that makes for high SATs. I think you're
probably right that they won't outscore home taught children of
professionals, but I'd be surprised if they didn't outscore public
My problem with the statistic is that I think percentage of highly
superior adults a kind of education seems to result in is much more
important than the average level of adult achievment it seems to
produce. If schools really made a difference, I'd prefer a school that
turned out one genius a year and 99 people four levels of ability below
genius, than a school that turned out one genius every twenty years, and
1999 people two levels below genius. Although, sure, a balance between
schools turning out a mix of superior and decidedly non-superior people
and those turning out mostly highly competent mediocrities and no
geniuses would probably be best.
> But I'm not sure what you're advocating. Rousseauian education?
Possibly a less simple-minded version than that (as I inexpertly
understand it). I believe in strong parental guidance for the first
years of a child's life, followed by a kind of schooling not compulsory
but generally voluntarily accepted by most parents. I would want games
made that provided learning experiences but were fun. And
competitions. And lots of dedicated teachers to lead a child to
information the child wanted, and to advice the child could take or
leave. I'd like to give apprenticeships a try, too--make them, and
jobs, available to children who qualified, which would make a kid learn
things voluntarily that he didn't like learning because he knew he
couldn't become an apprentice sheriff without it.
I would abolish all legally-required licensing, replacing it with
privately sold licensing one would have to qualify for. So anyone could
practice brain surgery, but there would be surgeons licensed by Good
Housekeeping Magazine who couldn't get their licenses without having the
education and training doctors have now. But there should also be
people calling themselves brain surgeons who got licenses based on their
competence rather than on their credentials.
Malpractice, unless intentional, would not be illegal, but insurance
companies would keep track of poor doctors and refuse to cover someone
using one of them. It's be buyer beware, but with lots of help--like
the help more and more available on the Internet.
Etc. It'll all be in the book I plan to write if I live to be 120.
The first thing that would go if I were In Charge would be businesses
requiring an employee to have a college degree. Force companies to
learn how to tell those who would make good employees from those who
would not. Maybe even run their own colleges--come work for us, but
understand you have to first get the equivalent of a BS from our
Etc. Or did I say that already?
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