Noodling around the blogs, something hit me: we’ve now disrupted four years of education for the entire Iraqi population, as near as I can tell. That means that every boy who was fifteen when the war started is now 19, without a complete education or the job prospects that go with it. What started out as a fairly advanced secular nation is now something closer to Mogadishu, with rival gangs full of pissed-off, ignorant religious nuts killing each other. And every year that passes sends another squad of undereducated, overislamed boys into the fray.
Maybe I should have been less cynical when the administration tried to make a big deal about schools and hospitals opening. I don’t think the US could survive an entire generation of eighth-grade-educated adults, much less Iraq. We’d have the protestants vs. the catholics, and everyone hunting atheists within ten years.
That’s precisely what we have now and we’re doing ok.
If you don’t believe me, grab a random person off the street and tell them to show you where Australia is on a map. Hell, ask them to show you different states in the nation. Even better, to test something which has more practical use, ask a random American to add fractions or to evaluate a simple algebraic expression.
We are not turning into a nation of the ignorant. What we are is turning into is a nation of the specialized. A nation of the limited.
The criticism that is creating this nation is the criticism of the American school system’s broad-based liberal education. “It doesn’t teach anything useful!” “It doesn’t teach anything practical!” “It doesn’t teach anything helpful to the job market!”
So now we get more and more “job-oriented schooling”… where your classes teach specific job skills.
The problem is that specific job skills are fine for THAT job, and ok for similar jobs, but terrible, completely useless in many cases, for dissimilar jobs. So basically we are training people to not be able to change their line of work, and for their line of work to not be able to change!
Humans are no longer being taught… they are now being trained.
What is created is a brittle system where neither the worker nor the job can alter much from its existing state… and in this fast-changing era that may well be fatal to America if its allowed to continue.
“Liberal-arts education? What is it good for anyway? Make me a job-fulfilling robot before its too late!”
I thank the lord every single day that I don’t have to identify Alabama, Mississippi, and some other random states on a map, lest anyone think my lack of rote memorization skills that have zero bearing on anything I do on a daily basis be the sole judge of my intelligence, or lack thereof.
I mean, Iowa? Idaho? Shit, I don’t think I could have found Vermont until I moved here. Thank god I can read well enough to identify it on a map. At least one with the names already on there.