"La salvaguardia della libertà delle nazioni non è la filosofia nè la ragione, come ora si pretende che queste debbano rigenerare le cose pubbliche, ma le virtù, le illusioni, l’entusiasmo, in somma la natura, dalla quale siamo lontanissimi." Giacomo Leopardi (1820).
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
The Problem with School Today
problem with school these days is that it over-values success, at the
expense of process (which always involves failure, especially if one is
ever going to succeed in doing anything really, practically useful--as
opposed to aesthetically pleasing). School wants us all to look like
winners without actually doing the work required to win (i.e. losing
over and over).
I like grappling, so I imagine
wrestlers. School wants you to have the achievement record of
AlexanderKarelin without his medical record (lots of
injuries on the road to that much Olympic gold).
inverts the old Latin dictum esse quam videri (briefly translated "be
rather than seem," i.e. it is better to have real experience than to
look experienced). People are afraid to study things they aren't good
at, because it will show up on their record, and people reading that
record will say, "Loser!" and give whatever prize they have to somebody
else. What gets lost in the shuffle is the reality that we are not all
going to get the same prizes no matter what happens (life exists by
creating winners and losers, always)--and depriving oneself of loss just
makes the inevitable that much more painful when it comes. When you
talk to guys like Karelin in the locker room, most of them aren't
stuck-up assholes (who think they are where they are because they are
somehow superior in every fashion to every other human out there). They
see the costs of their success. They see its precariousness (a few
points ground out on the mat after hours of sweat in the gym, getting
pummelled by team-mates and berated by coaches).
whose success is not the result of actual physical hardship have a much
less humble view of themselves (and a much more arrogant attitude toward
their fellowman, especially when he loses). Worst of all is the
academic, politician, or economist who never lost a debate (or an
election or a buttload of money). These types are
insufferable--convinced that they have figured life out and that the
rest of mankind are just worms who somehow fail to appreciate their
excellent example and stop failing. "Why should you flunk calculus,
Billy Stupid? I never did. Just try harder next time! (And no, I will
not hire you to take out my trash: only A-level garbage men on my team.
I cannot have your loser-ness bringing down our morale and/or killing
our phenomenal performance, which is entirely the result of our own
excellent moral qualities.)"