Monday, July 07, 2008

The Bad, the Ugly, the Good 

One of my favorite talk show hosts is Dennis Prager, heard from 11-2 on AM 1280. I enjoy him because the topics are not always politics and he tries his best to deliver accuracy before opinions.

Education topics provide particular interest for me and Wednesday's show was one of the most informative. Two authors and their books were discussed.

Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University just published his latest book, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30). His premise is that the current digital age, IMing, last minute meetings, etc. keep younger people from reading while focusing all their energies on themselves. While "me" has been a topic of discussion since the 1980's (The Me Generation) this conclusion ignores events that led to the current implementation of poor reading.

The second author, Anthony Kronman, a Yale Law Professor, discussed his latest book, Education's End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life. Real philosophy, idealism, etc. are ignored for the guilt ridden, victimology currently in vogue.

Both authors agree that while our youth are intelligent, they are not being educated. The United States with its penchant for self-criticism, particularly by the left, has put its education system in a bind. We have spent almost 40 years teaching our youth only the bad and the ugly about western civilization, often by educators who entered the profession to avoid the draft in the late 1960's, early 1970's. In addition, the profession often attracts people who are risk averse. The result is that group think takes over. Because peer pressure is so intense, particularly at the post-secondary level, those with views opposing the status quo are often ridiculed and denied tenure. Many with conservative views simply keep their mouths shut.

We do our children, our nation, our taxpayers, and frankly the world, a major disservice when we deny the good of western civilization. The subject used to be required of all college freshmen, no longer. Yet many of today's students know they're missing something. They are beginning to search for classes that make them think and yes, learn about western civilization.

Is it good for a society to ignore its bad and ugly (as most societies on the planet do) and lie to their own people that they are perfect or have the only way, etc.? and all others are rotten? No.

Nor is it good for a society to only focus on the bad and ugly while ignoring the good that the society has done. Western civilization concepts have brought more people out of poverty, educated more people, debated more ideas, invented more products, produced more solutions than any other civilization, period. It is time to give our youth the good.

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