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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Blistering free advice for our recent grads from the ever insightful Bret Stephens.


StanfordCardinal said...

Interesting article and the point regarding global competition is certainly the truth. However, this article reeks of outrageous and spurious claims. 

The author's Fact One: "in our "knowledge-based" economy, knowledge counts. Yet here you are, probably the least knowledgeable graduating class in history". In the very next paragraph, the author goes on to explain a young graduate who wasn't well-versed in the details of the Suez Crisis, or naming a couple of president. And follows with: "Many of you have been reared on the cliché that the purpose of education isn't to stuff your head with facts but to teach you how to think. Wrong.". It is here the author is wrong, and I see these statements as one of the large problems with our system of education. From primary all the way through post-secondary, memorization (or as the author says "stuff your head with facts") is taught, NOT learning. Memorizing facts is largely a waste of time in the real world. The emphasis of memorizing history and memorizing the arbitrary nuances of languages is a complete waste of time. We need much more education in the universal language of the world (mathematics) as the STEM fields are not emphasized nearly enough. I remember in my graduate program the Asians mentioning having to take Linear Algebra in high school while the American graduate students (who mostly had no clue about inverting a matrix) were struggling with basic algebra. Most graduates never even take statistics in their lifetime, which is largely the reason for their being duped by the numbers printed by the media. Our problem is scientific illiteracy, not a lack of knowledge in history or English.

Also, this bashing of the generations that succeed your own is a tired routine from the bitter has-beens of a bygone era that has been occurring since the beginning of time. In reality, "the good ol days" are never as good as those with all too rose colored glasses like to paint them. Not to mention the fact that this article and similar rants are scolding the results and not the cause of the supposed problem. The cause of this supposed problem are those complaining about the problem - the generations that precede the "problem generation". It is they who are solely responsible for electing the leaders in charge of the laws of the land. It is they who are(were) solely responsible for providing the education that is being bashed. Maybe articles like this are just a way of attempting to take the rightful blame off of their own backs and throwing it on another. After all, failure is a tough pill to swallow - especially when you are responsible for the supposed failure of an entire generation(s). Or maybe it's another form of hubris at play and the old farts always want to be seen as the best generation (here's looking at you Brokaw) ,rightfully so or not.

Of course, objective realities don't generate readers for opeds like the biased, subjective, and brash opinions that prey on emotions do. Damn fixing the problem, let's sell newspapers!

Randall Parker said...

I think your "solely responsible" theme kind of proves his point. But no matter. More free advice to any Generation X, Y or Z'er who can tell me who was president in 1956.

Stanford Cardinal said...

Are you saying previous generations are not solely responsible for electing the leaders and providing the education as I stated?

And how does memorizing deceased leaders promote advances and prosperity within a nation? How about focusing our efforts on basic mathematics, statistics, calculus, biology, astronomy, chemistry, physics, and their applications?

Randall Parker said...

Like Gandhi said when asked how he felt about Western Civilization he simply said "I'm for it". So more STEM stuff...I'm for it.

Educations are earned and strived for. They are not simply "provided". And that entitlement mentality is why we are where we are. Of all the college kids there are in this country, the West Point cadets are the happiest. The most burdened...and the happiest. Think it over.

I'll keep publishing what you want to say, just keep it pleasant. I'm out. Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

Stanford Cardinal said...

Doc, who said anything about entitlement? And if (as I assume you are implying) Our youth feel entitled, it is because previous generations have created an environment that fosters such feelings. Again, it is they who elected the politicians who create the laws to support any such mentality. And it is they who created the educational system that fosters this thinking.

Of course education is earned & strived for. The problem is (unlike what the author describes) we aren't providing education because the generations before have allowed the system to erode. Memorization does not equal education.

I'm sorry you have decided to exit the conversation.

Randall Parker said...

Don't be sorry but I got other things to do...nothing personal...have a good day...