Response to “Lesdexics of the world untie!”

In my roommate Hazen’s latest blog posting, he makes a great point about how richer nations have essentially coddled their children so much throughout their education-based lives that they end up not learning anything at all.

Case in point: in January 2001, George W. Bush passed a bill called the “No Child Left Behind Act” which was originally intended to help children across the country by ensuring that every child was able to read by the end of grade 3. Of course, this was also assuming that less teachers would quit; in fact it made the assumption that more teachers would be brought on to cope with the increased demand for a teacher’s time. I don’t think I even have to say it, but the number of positions dropped quite significantly.

A report released in June of 2002 by Ed Fuller (a PhD with the State Board of Educator Certifcation in Texas) indicates that the state of Texas alone was short between 10 and 20 percent of the required number of teachers. Now think about this for a second, this report is saying that they are short 45,000 teachers, in the home state of the man who signed this very bill.

How are teachers supposed to ensure that all of these children are all at the same level when they already have an average of 15% more children than they optimally should? Unfortunately, it’s a simple answer to a simple question: they lower the bar.

Instead of being able to embrace the spirit of the bill and bring the already-too-high number of uneducated children down, they end up setting the bar at the lowest common denominator so that they’ve at least got everyone on the same page. Worryingly, this is putting the smartest children in the class at risk for boredom and stunted development.

What do I mean by that? After 24 (well, in less than two weeks) years of living and breathing, I will finally quit being modest and accept the fact that I was (or rather, am) bright. Going through elementary and junior high was difficult for me, because it seemed like I was being punished for being smart. I can recall many occasions where I would be in Ms. Faulkner’s grade 8 and 9 science class, asking why a certain reaction would take place between certain metals, and all too often, I would be told that the answer would be too confusing for most people.

I’m sorry, I was under the impression that we came to school to learn, or to learn how to learn. If the answer is too confusing, either the people I’m sharing a classroom with can figure it out for themselves, or they can ignore the response altogether. Why should I, as someone who is coming to school to learn be denied that very right. In fact, shouldn’t teachers be encouraging students to ask questions? I mean, if in every class we’re at least partially graded on our participation, why would we be penalized for it?

As Hazen remarks in his article, I too am absolutely sick of the stupid being coddled. Whether it be kids, teenagers, adults, or seniors; in this day and age, where information is so readily available to anyone and everyone, why is stupidity still worn as a badge of honor?

10 years ago, when the words “computer” and “internet” were just barely starting to enter the vocabulary of the general public, not knowing how to open a zipped attachment was acceptable. These were all new technologies and they penetrated the market at a furious pace so not being able to keep up with all the latest terminology was to be expected.

My problem is that, here we are, 10 years later, and these same people who have been using their computer since AOL broke on to the scene are still asking how to open zipped attachments, and every time you try and educate them (“Here Bob, you save the attachment in your My Documents folder, you open your My Documents folder by clicking Start -> My Documents, you right-click the attachment, and finally you click “Extract here…”) you will inevitably be verbally slapped with the famous “WHOA-WHOA-WHOA!!! I am not good with computers, you can’t expect me to remember all that, do you?” as a shit eating grin slowly creeps on to their face which is just begging to be slapped off.

So I’ve given you 4 instructions, and you don’t have either A) the brain power to remember 4 simple steps; or B) the brain power to think “Hey, this is rather complicated, maybe I should write this down.” I can only imagine what must happen to these people when they’re invited out for dinner to a friend’s house that doesn’t live down the street. “Get to Main Street, take a left on Park Drive, take a right on Tree Avenue, then it’s a left on Sunview Street, and then look for—” “WHOA WHOA WHOA, you can’t expect me to remember all of that, do you? Looks like we won’t be able to make it after all, since the directions are just too complicated. Thank your wife for the invitation though!”

People like this are the reason that the geeks and nerds of the IT world are getting burnt out. It’s not the rapid pace at which technology moves; we embrace it. We (generally) love the fact that companies are using the spirit of competition to continually improve themselves (or at the very least, their products) and we love getting to play with these new gadgets. Those gadgets aren’t the reason that you speak to a new helpdesk technician every time you call, even if your helpdesk is only 3 people: it’s the stupid users.

The people who after years of repeat calls to IT refuse to learn a few simple steps, that seemingly everyone else around them was able to master in a few minutes, are the reason that the turnover rate in the computer world is so high. We get to see stupidity on a mass-scale day after day and it kills us. Perhaps its egoism that makes us compare our love of learning (yes, most techs chomp at the bit to learn new things; it’s why we’re good at what we do) to society’s apparent hate of it, but I think most of us (or at least, I) cannot understand how people would not want to learn something.

At any rate, these people should be punished. Unfortunately for society as whole, “survival of the fittest” has all but been outlawed, and every concession has been made to these plights on society while sacrificing the few of us left that actually care about being smarter than the average fence post. We’re being held back in school, and even to some extent at work, thanks to the revolving door of stupidity that seems to have been installed at the door of our culture.

The people who want to learn can’t, and to a certain extent feel down as they’re being denied the most basic pleasure: knowledge. The people who don’t want to learn don’t because they believe that rather than learning something new, they can just have someone else do whatever problem needs solving at the moment. They’re as happy as a pig in shit because laziness has become a way of life. And everyone everywhere suffers as the world plunges a little closer into the darkness of irrational stupidity.
But I guess what they say is true: ignorance is bliss.

Work it baby, work it!

Since my cousin Jesse got here on Saturday, it seems like time has been put on fast forward; he’s only been here five days, but it barely seems like two. It’s unfortunate, but at least we’ve been having a great time and making use of every second.

After getting off the plane on Saturday, we took a cab back from the airport, dropped off his luggage, and hopped on our scooters to sprint into town for our usual Saturday brunch at Bistro 12. We ordered our food, and much to Jesse’s delight, ordering “double bacon” on a hamburger actually means “double the amount of bacon”. You could tell it was the first real meal he’d had in a while as I’m pretty sure he didn’t so much eat the burger, but rather inhaled it in one or two deep breaths.

We finished breakfast and walked around downtown, picking up a few things here and there, like a comforter and pillow for Jesse, since we realized that we didn’t have an extra one. We picked up an industrial sized pack of styrofoam plates at Bermuda’s version of Costco, so that Matt can quit bitching about us leaving our dishes in the sink; now we eat, and throw our dishes away. That’s 3M innovation!

We got home, made some dinner, and relaxed a little bit before we put on our dancin’ shoes and made our way downtown for a fun night of drinking, Bermuda style.

Sunday, was pretty uneventful; the weather was pretty crappy, so Sarah, Jesse and I just went to the Swizzle Inn for dinner (Matt and Hazen weren’t really in the mood to go out) and came back to our place where Sarah ended up passing out, and we watched a really cool movie called Renaissance.

Monday, we all woke up rather refreshed, and decided that rather than waste away the day sitting around the house, we would make the 15 minute dash to St. George’s island (on the opposite side of the airport from us) to play a round of golf. We arrived just shy of 2pm, and had a quick lunch (hotdog/hamburger type thing) and headed out onto the course where we proceeded to make complete fools of ourselves for the better part of 2 hours. Interestingly, you can either play 18 or 11 holes, not 9. We figured that since we all suck, 11 would be our lucky number today, which coincidentally was Jesse and I’s score on more than a couple holes.

We got home, thoroughly exhausted (which we couldn’t really understand, seeing that we were using the golf cart) but kicked off our shoes, through on some Weeds (the TV show) and I barbecued for everyone. We relaxed yet again, and slowly but surely, we each made our way to our respective bedrooms for the night.

Yesterday, being Tuesday, and not being a day I had off, work was as exciting as usual (which is to say: not at all), but after work, I arrived home, to find that 2 of my 3 lenses along with my tripod and camera backpack had all arrived. I spent the better part of the evening messing around with them, and while I didn’t take any good shots being that it was already dark, I felt like a 5 year old at Christmas opening everything.

Tonight, Jesse and I are going shooting as he brought his camera down with him too. The lucky son-of-a-gun has a Canon 10D (about 3 steps above mine), but has the same lens mount, meaning that we can both use the lenses I just bought. Hopefully tomorrow or the day after, we should have a bunch of pictures of the abandoned Club Med.

Stay tuned…