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Watching the news clips of those who recently marched in Washington, D.C., I was bothered to ask what value there is in education.
It was not the sight of their misspelled, hand-made signs or their mangling of American history that bothered me. No, what bothered me was the nagging question of what kind of educational delivery system could possibly produce, in so many (though thankfully, not all) such errors of knowledge and twisting of facts until all truth and reason is turned on its head.
We should ask what hallowed halls of learning have they attended, and at whose feet have they sat?
One answer to this question is to notice the strange, new delivery system of (I hesitate to call it education, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment, so let’s just call it faux education) which has asserted itself into the American experience. This new system has no classrooms, is available on the Internet, and for the first time its content is not only available on cable television, but over the radio, to everyone, all the time.
For lack of a better term, let’s call this system Doofus University. I confess that as I watched those news clips, it seemed very possible that many of this institution’s alums and most of the class of 2009 and 2010 were apparently AWOL from jobs, classes or their bingo game in order to participate in the march on Washington.
I hesitated above in using the word education to describe this system because unlike traditional education, at Doofus U., no one is concerned with facts. Critical thinking is forbidden and even dangerous to the system. The instructors’ role is not to enlighten students or to open up their minds to truth and beauty.
Students are not encouraged to become thinkers in this system, but drones who simply regurgitate the prepackaged, bite-sized, sweet and sticky musings of the high priest of spin, at whose feet the gullible sit. Mesmerized by what amounts to emotion and passion substituting for wisdom and insight, in the advancement of a national stupidity.
OK, I’m having some fun putting it this way. But seriously folks, have we really come to the place where we now equate being lectured to (read, preached to, or told, like children, how and what to think, or worse, what it all means) by the likes of Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Keith Olbermann, et al., as equal to the rigorous discipline and historical ideals associated with education and higher learning?
I mistakenly said above that, in this system, facts don’t matter. That’s not exactly right. Facts do matter in this new system, but only as movable bits of data that can be purposefully disconnected from their original context and meaning.
These bits of disembodied data are then free to be rearranged and recast, by those who seek our uncritical attention, into a new narrative with new meaning.
I was taught that that kind of information delivery system was propaganda, not education. So what value is there in education? Its value lies in teaching us how to distinguish between the two.