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Thread: Closing of the American Mind - a review

  1. #11
    ish red no longer *sad* Array nightning's Avatar
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    Apr 2007


    So we're in agreement. The million dollar question remains: How do we change this? Somehow I doubt simply substituting original text for current "revised" material cuts it.

  2. #12


    Quote Originally Posted by nightning View Post
    Somehow I doubt simply substituting original text for current "revised" material cuts it.
    Of course not, but raising the quality of material used in education is a must. We have to discard the notion of appealing to the lowest common denominator.

  3. #13


    I think I bought that book at a garage sale when I was in high school. It's great, and unfortunately still relevant 20 years after it was first published.
    I don't wanna!

  4. #14
    Feline Member Array kelric's Avatar
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    Sep 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    It's important for students(and by extension everyone) to be exposed to this stuff on some level - it's very much the basis for any geniune sense of culture and civilization.
    I more or less agree with what you all have said, but I'm always a bit wary of statements like this. I haven't read the book you mentioned, Peguy, so take this with the appropriate consideration of that, but I think we all run the risk of thinking that everyone should be exposed to the things that matter the most to us, personally. The best example I have is this jaw-dropper my organic chemistry professor said once in class. It went something like this:

    "I think that everyone in society, no matter what they do, really needs to know about differences in electron orbital structure probability as it relates to molecular bond formation - it's basic and would really help anyone, in all walks of life, get an useful understanding of how things work."

    Now, that's a paraphrase, but it's not far off (it was 15 years ago, give me a break ). He was *completely serious* when he said it... it *was* pretty basic... for him. But hardly the thing most people "need" to know about, or would be interested in. (I just wish I could have seen the looks on everyone's faces when he said it... the room got really quiet for a few seconds, then he jumped into saying something else.)

    Not saying that you're wrong, but there's always reason for some caution when proposing that more people need exposure to hyper-specific ideas. I agree with Nightning that, at least in science (and I suspect in philosophy), the primary literature is NOT the appropriate source for those who are just gaining a basic understanding (or who just WANT a basic understanding) of a topic. Sure, you'll miss some detail, and maybe not get the whole picture... but nobody can know everything, and as long as you understand the principles of evidence and that any theory can be revised with countering evidence, you'll come out okay. I'll also add that, for many (most?) people, primary literature is not a very engaging medium. It's great for the details, but for someone who's just interested in the generalities, it's overkill (which is why people often just read the abstracts (summaries), anyway).

  5. #15
    Babylon Candle Array Venom's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    1w9 sp/sx


    Fixing education by looking at the college level is ignoring the root of the problem. Our high schools and middle schools suck. India's high schools do college level math and science as the norm.

    I fear that its already too late. Its frightening the level of intelligence found even in college. People who get good grades, can do all the hoop jumping in the world, yet are easily ensnared by:

    -appeals to emotion, authority, tradition, consequences, wealth or novelty
    -straw mans
    -slippery slope

    No one ever remembers what they learn in school. The idea of school is not to learn a bunch of bullshit about some primary source. School is simply to educate you enough to enter the work force. A dumb ass worker is not very valuable. We are currently turning out a lot of fact memorizing dumb asses. That is a much BIGGER problem than primary sources.

    I blame psychologists and all their bullshit. Self esteem is bullshit. Self respect, based on actual achievement is far superior to empty and baseless self esteem.


    On digging deeper into the root of the problem, I realized that the general problem with the American education (high school and college) system is that it is designed so as not to reduce/hurt the self-esteem of any kid in class. So, the system is designed in such a way that nearly everyone can pass the high-school level. This leads to lowering the standards at the high school, which in turn leads to lowering the standards for college entrance too and subsequent college programs. So, college students in, say, computer science, are learning much less and at a much slower pace than the students in computer science programs in India and Europe. This is one of the main reasons why most of the graduate students in computer science in the US are foriegn students; American students are just not able to compete with the quality of foriegn student applicants. College education is becoming common place, with a large proportion of high school graduates opting for it. Universities are under pressure from state governments to take in more students, that is, in turn, leading to reduced quality and lower standards (quality*quantity=constant). Universities are just not able to cope with the quick increases and the corresponding lack of good faculty.

  6. #16
    Arcesso pulli gingerios! Array Eldanen's Avatar
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    Apr 2007


    Education in America sucks. What else is new?

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