27 October 2008

Reform, Refine, ectetera, redux . . .

I claim a part of me that thinks what I wrote earlier is hooey.  It's a con.  The notion that reformation, enlightenment, and refinement, especially for boys, can improve us is,  well . . . it's a cultural con.  I believe it's the centerpiece of a marketing effort by great-thinker  type schools shilling features and benefits to a culturally ascendant nouveaux riche.  It's a product.  I should know because I'm a product of it.  Here is an article by Lee Siegel "Unsafe at Any Read," that humorously reflects a facet of my thinking: www.nytimes.com/2008/10/19/books/review/Siegel-t.html?scp=3&sq=Lee%20Siegel&st=cse.  Gee, I wish I could write like that.

Just what "it" am I speaking of?  Besides just what does "improve us" mean anyway.  Who is the "them" saying that "us".  And who is the "us" in contrast to the "them".  And just what is that content that is going to transform into an "improving"?  I believe that culture is shifting so substantially that there is no agreement on what "it" is.  When I was a child, in the context of my birth family and the culture they grew out of and I was reared into, then, yes, consensus had been achieved and goals were set and decisive action were taken by my parents.  But somewhere along the way all those assumptions changed.

The other day I read a synopsis of an article entitled We Send Too Many Students to College by Marty Nemko.  Mr. Nemko is a career counselor.  Here's the link to the entire article on Mr. Nemko's website:
http://www.martynemko.com/articles/we-send-too-many-students-college_id1543.  Here is the line in the synopsis that jumped out at me. "When high school students show no aptitude for or interest in academics, their parents do them no favors by insisting on college."  Culturally ascendant nouveaux riche parents take heed.

I had the aptitude but I did not have the interest.  And I now know what I had an interest in was culturally and socially unpalatable to my parents, who were footing the bill, and what I had been reared into in my birth family.  I ran into a lot of resistance.  Of  course this was obvious to no one but me.  And if we had sought an observer, say a career counsellor like Mr. Nemko, what would have been quite clear to him and his experience from counselling might well have not been clear to any in my birth family.  Nor would it have been clear to me.  And if it had been clear I would not have know what steps to take to implement the insight.  This does not change or negate the insight.  It just reflects seeing through a glass darkly.

And therein lies our cultural and educational dilemma as a people.  

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