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Monday, June 27, 2005

My god. I arrived at my half-hour singing lesson this afternoon at 5:20pm (I was held up for twenty minutes at the traffic light on the corner of the Harvey Taylor Bridge and 17th Street). I didn't leave Angela's house until nine o'clock. We had a killer of a conversation about the state of education in America which morphed into a three-hour deep and meaningful about the sort of new age conspiracy bullshit which I love to explore and wonder about and Matt loves to pooh pooh. Yargh! My brain is pinging all over the place now. Here, read this. Deborah Harmes is up there with David Icke, only I'm two degrees of separation from her.

Thinking about the possibility of an avian flu epidemic in humans is my new horror genre. If I try to wrap my mind around it, I'm terrified. But I'm drawn irresistibly to the fear.

But more frightening to me than this in the short term is the state of education here in the US. One of the crew members on No Sanctuary just finished a student teaching stint at a local high school. He was teaching grade eleven English, and nobody in the class knew how to take notes. They had never, in fact, taken notes before. They didn't even bring note-taking paper to class. Their complacent teachers simply gave them worksheets with blanks to fill in, such as "Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in _____ in _____________ and died in ____." In grade eleven.

I've seen first hand (and often bitched on this blog about) the poor standard of education in US high schools. Angela has some terrible stories from her classes - college students who couldn't tell you offhand the name of Germany's leader during WWII, for instance. In my entire English class last semester, only one person besides me had ever read Dickens. Dickens! Last fall, we had to spend a ridiculous amount of time in class learning how to use commas and apostrophes. After taking one crash-course semester of US History and the National Political System, I seem to know more about the running of this country than most young Americans who have lived here all their lives. None of them seem to know anything about world history or current events either. Hardly anyone I meet in any of my classes can consistently write a correct sentence, punctuate, or spell, and they rarely think expressing themselves clearly is particularly important. Barely any of them have the ability to enter into a critical verbal discussion of any subject. They don't understand the merit or process of providing decent sources to back up an assertion. And they don't care. They think that a college degree is a ticket to a better job which they can earn just by showing up, and this seems to be an attitude engendered many, many years before they arrived at college.

It occurs to me that this has been going on for some time, but that it wasn't always this way. And it makes me think that this trend is quite deliberate on the part of conservative government. What are the consequences of educating the populace? The Civil Rights movement. Feminism. Tiananmen Square. A whole lotta liberals and progressives. What are the consequences of giving the population a cursory education that discourages independent or critical thought? Easily controlled sheep.

I don't know how teachers in this country do it. I would have a nervous breakdown in a month.



It was a great first day of shooting for No Sanctuary, anyway. Very laid back. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
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