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Thread: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

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    Default Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    "When asked, most individuals will describe themselves as better-than-average in areas such as leadership, social skills, written expression, or just about any flavor of savvy where the individual has an interest. This tendency of the average person to believe he or she is better-than-average is known as the "above-average effect," and it flies in the face of logic… by definition, descriptive statistics says that it is impossible absurdly improbable for a majority of people to be above average. Clearly a large number of the self-described "above average" individuals are actually below average in those areas, and they are simply unaware of their incompetence.

    It seems that the reason for this phenomenon is obvious: The more incompetent someone is in a particular area, the less qualified that person is to assess anyone's skill in that space, including their own. When one fails to recognize that he or she has performed poorly, the individual is left assuming that they have performed well. As a result, the incompetent will tend to grossly overestimate their skills and abilities. A few years ago, two men from the Department of Psychology at Cornell University made an effort to determine just how profoundly one misoverestimates one's own skills in relation to one's actual abilities.~

    Also interestingly, the top performers tended to underestimate their own performance compared to their peers. The researchers found that those participants fell prey to the false-consensus effect, a phenomenon where one assumes that one's peers are performing at least as well as oneself when given no evidence to the contrary."

    http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=406

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    Usually the real world will eventually provide accurate feedback on what each person can and can't do well - it can't be avoided except by the very rich.

    Some schools do a good job of preparing our students and some don't. The latter avoid giving the students negative feedback so as to protect their self esteem.... Better if the great awakening happens on someone else's watch, I guess...

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    nerdengineer,

    Unfortunately, our public schools are doing this exact thing: they are cossetting the students from reality in order to protect their "self-esteem".

    There are whole generations of people coming up in the world now who think that the world owes them a living, that they don't have to prove anything, that they are inherently skilled and worthy of major success even though they can't objectively and demonstrably show any skill or aptitude.

    I taught inner city 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in Syracuse NY, and it was very, very unsettling. My 8th graders could still not handle fractions--couldn't even understand what fractions actually WERE, what those numbers actually MEANT. I spent a lot of time going over very carefully and clearly what 1/4 or 1/10 or 3/4 or etc. meant, with pie graphs, and with money, and so on. But they just didn't care. They had absorbed so fully the sentiment that all of what they were doing was just jumping through so many hoops, and that it meant NOTHING, nada, zip, zero, and was just busy work, that they couldn't be bothered to actually turn their minds to real learning, even when it was handed to them on a silver platter.

    And one of the boys got fed up with it pretty quickly and was like "Why I need to know this?" and I was like "Well, xxxx, what do you want to do when you grow up?" And he says "I'm gonna be a stock broker! You think I'm gonna need to measure money?" as if it was the most obvious thing in the world that fractions had nothing to do with money and certainly nothing to do with being a stock broker.

    He really, honestly and truly thought that he was all set to be a stock broker, and that he didn't need to learn anything I was teaching in order to make that happen."

    We're talking about a group of kids so lost, so behind, that they don't even KNOW they are behind.

    And my experience is definitely not rare. I've heard it from others, too. And we're all going to reap the whirlwind on this one, folks. Because these kids are going to be PISSED and cynical and bitter and jaded beyond belief when they find out they aren't going to be rich and famous. And somehow they think it's all someone elses fault.

    The stories I could tell . . .

    Needless to say, I'm not a science teacher at an inner city school any more. One round was more than enough to burn me out. I can't and won't teach someone who not only doesn't want to learn, but doesn't even think I have anything to teach.

    It's funny. Decades ago, a movie like "To sir, with love" would have shown one answer: just start a dialogue with them. An honest, open, clear dialogue about anything they are interested in. Teach with the Socratic method.

    But it doesn't work with those who are fundamentally irrational at heart, and who hate you. Not that my students hated me more than any other teacher; they actually hated me LESS than the other teachers. They sensed that I really believed what I was saying, and also that I really believed that what I was teaching would help them--that I wanted to help them. But even so, they still looked upon me as a combination of jailer and harsh task master and disciplinarian all rolled into one.

    Frankly, the best thing for some of those kids would be grunt labor in construction work or garbage collection. You don't want to be in school? You don't want to learn? You don't care about your grades? FINE! Go dig a ditch for 40 hours a week and see how that sits with you.

    After high school, I attended the United States Air Force Academy. And I hated it. I stayed through basic training and into the school year, but quit before my first year was up. And my father, being a military man himself, disowned me. And I worked at a Radio Shack full time selling stuff until the next semester of college started at the University of Maine. And when college started, I worked 20 hours a week washing dishes in the dining commons, and 8 or 16 hours each weeked back at Radio Shack.

    I loved it. I was happy to be where I was, with as much time to study as I needed (even counting work), with my own room, with no one telling me what to do or how to arrange my socks. I just loved college. I loved the classes, the friends all around me, all of it. And yet, I'd hear disgruntled college students saying things like "School sucks! I HATE this. I hate math. I hate physics. I'm going to drop out. Who needs a degree?" And I was just totally nonplussed. I couldn't believe it. It seemed to me that they just had NO CLUE what they were asking for, and were in for a rude awakening.

    I think there are a great many people who are unskilled and unaware of it, and instead of having to face this, they will blame someone else. It's not going to be pretty.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    This is similar to the Peter Principle - one flavor being that an individual will rise in an organization to a level where he is incompetent. As long as he is competent at a particular level, he is likely to rise to the next level, and will only stop rising when he reaches a level where he doesn't know what he is doing.

    cheers

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    I basically agree with js here. Thanks to teaching methods which are overly concerned with not hurting a student's self-esteem we're eventually going to end up a third-world country. We're already halfway there as far as I'm concerned. I don't solely blame the educational establishment either. You have a media which glorifies celebrities who for the most part are horrible role models. You have a culture obsessed with acquiring material wealth for it's own sake. You have a general disinterest in learning anything new among most of the population. Well, the last thing is the fault of schools mostly since they're supposed to impart a love a learning in addition to actually teaching useful things. You have parents who shower their children with material things but take zero interest in their education or emotional well-being. They also program so much of their childrens' days with so-called enrichment activities that there's little time for the free association of play. You also have many of these same children growing up in places where there's little inherent mental stimulation. To top it all off you have a lawsuit happy legal system and a series of government handouts creating a culture of entitlement. Given all these, it's no surprise many people are so incompetent that they don't even realize how incompetent they really are. They just see no incentive for competence when many around them in effect get money for doing nothing of real value to society.

    What's most frightening is that these changes have occurred not over a millenium or even a century but in the span of a few decades. When I was in grade school not much more than thirty years ago most public schools gave a child a solid education. There was also a can-do attitude which put a man on the moon and saw a bright future. Those going to school felt they were going to school to actively participate in this future. This is in sharp contrast to the skeptical, "what's in it for me" attitude prevalent nowadays. Even worse, this crappy attitude is contagious. I find a lot of the optimism of my youth dampened by the new "why bother" attitude. It seems you just can't get people to care about anything any more except their own comforts.

    Can this be changed? Maybe, but like an alcoholic we'll first need to realize our vice, and then be willing to do something about it. Parents will need to hand the schools more responsibility. The schools will need to be able to take whatever disciplinary measures are needed, including mild corporal punishment, without fear of lawsuits or parental backlash. Parents will need to back up the schools even on days when they severe hurt the self-esteem of their "poor child". Teachers will have to learn to tow the fine law between killing a child's initiative with too much discipline versus not giving enough to encourage the child to learn more. We need to end frivolous lawsuits and put lawyers on hourly pay like everyone else. We need to stop glorifying celebrities and wealth. In fact, we need to stop glorifying anybody. We need to teach that we're all in it together. If everyone does their part society will get better for everyone. Ant society, not high society, should be the model for our own. If we do all this then maybe we have a shot at undoing some of the damage done in the last thirty years.

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    jtr-

    I'd disagree about us becoming a third world country, and here is why:

    There is a determined subgroup of people who will not allow their children or their friends children to take a cop out attitude towards education and advancement. That subgroup comes in two distinct flavors: First generation immigrants, like the Asians/Indians and some Eastern Europeans, who literally will their children to college because they recognize that education is how they will forge a new life, and old school people like myself and my friends who long ago recognized that life is simply easier, regardless of whether or not you really NEED to know some things, if you fill the box that says "college education".

    I beat my head against a wall as a young man because I refused to acknowledge that I needed a college education to accomplish some of the things I wanted to do in life. I finally realized that although that education might not be tecnically required for what I wanted to do, no one was going to allow me in the door until I actually had that education!

    All of my children, and to a great extent, all of my close associates and friends children, have received that advice and guidance. My friends and associates know that if they hear my kids saying things like those mentioned by js above, they should RAPIDLY and REPEATEDLY reinforce that a college education is a requirement in todays world. I honestly can not think of a single one of those kids who is NOT planning on a degree.

    But it takes ACTIVE, INVOLVED parents to make that happen. How many parents stay actively involved? NOT TO MANY! My experience over the last 15 years with my own children shows that only about 10-15% of parents actively involve themselves in their kids lives.

    The touchy, feely part of destroying kids initiative and personality is BS, pure and simple. Let's see who came out of those systems, people like:

    Carnegie
    Rockefeller
    Bell
    Ford
    The Wright Brothers
    and thousands and thousands more who made America great. Doesn't look like the system was broke to me!

    Examples:

    Grade School parent teacher meeting, 35 kids in a joint 3-4th grade class, 4 sets of parents showed up! We already knew all of them!

    Junior High open house, 700 kids, 100 sets of parents showed up.

    High School open house, nearly 2000 kids, less than 200 sets of parents showed up.

    I live in white bread, semi-rural America, I KNOW inner cities are worse, and private schools are probably a little better.

    BUT...unless parents are involved, kids will get worse educations, not better!

    We are fighting at our high school to offer MORE classes, but our teachers want to continue a 4 period day, each of 90 minutes, instead of 6 60 minute periods. The teachers teach 3 classes for a total of 4.5 hours, have a 1.5 hour planning period, and get 3 months off every year. Think that through!

    Lest anyone think I am anti-teacher, not hardly. I have 2 siblings who are college professors, and 2 in laws who teach high school.

    But teaching should be about accountability, and from what I can tell, there is none at all in teaching!

    Don't just blame the kids, because the system is broke, and the only people that can force change are the parents. The question is will they?
    Last edited by bwaites; 12-21-2006 at 11:37 PM.
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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    The bell curve is pretty flat in the middle...and although the difference between somewhat below average, average and somewhat above average might not be that large, that range still covers a lot of people...so it's not surprising that anyone in that group, possibly even a majority of the people, especially by their own standards, might say they are above average.

    And that's the real issue...I might believe that my leadership metric is better than yours and so that by (my) definition I'm a better leader than you...while of course you might believe the same. Then we could talk about the accuracy of the absolute metrics that would have to be used to actually decide who is "really" above and below average in leadership etc.

    I think it's perfectly normal to believe that we are above average when measured by our own standards....
    Last edited by DrJ; 12-22-2006 at 01:52 AM.

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    The bottom is dragging down the top and the bottom is getting bigger all the time. I'm an idiot when it comes to math. Can't do fractions, never really passed a math course in my life. Learned my other subjects but forgot most of what I learned after the testing was over. I love to read and that keeps me from feeling like a complete idiot. But I work hard and pay my bills and try not to get dragged down by the bottom.

    I don't overestimate my abilities, I'm thankful for what little I have

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    im good at turning on lights
    LED's have gotten too bright in our stuff. Many nights I'm awakened by my modem lights blinking.had help with my sig thank you for your help.

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    js, that was an awsome post!! It's Friday night, and I am 5.99 sheets-to-the-wind! (Coping mechanism.) I have the next 10 consecutive day's off! arty,: (but no party to go to!) Someday, I may dump what "made" me where I am today.

    Larry
    So much for not being able to find my happy a** with both hands and a flashlight! (Do not look into Tank Searchlight with remaining eye!)

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    Important and interesting posts, thanks all.
    You know what's weird- I can't get my kids' noses out of the books!
    Trying to get them to play cricket (ball game) is like pulling teeth!
    I hope their good academia takes them far in life, but clearly a little aerobic fitness and some macrocoordination (NOT XBox) would be good for them.
    The hardest thing to find in life is BALANCE, I think.
    I send them to a local private school and there is a lovely culture of excellence in everything, but my kids seem blind to the bits that involve moving!!! I think the culture stems from the population of (mostly) professional types who have worked their bums off to get where they are, so they see the importance of hard work in all its forms- I am very thankful for that. But isn't the world a heterogenous place- what a mix of attitudes and abilities and ability to give a damn we see....
    Kind Regards

    David

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    JS, you have put into eloquent words, what I have believed for many years. I could not agree with you more! I'm not in education but I do hire quite a few people each year into very secure, good paying jobs. The attitude of those coming in now versus 20- 25 years ago is disgusting to me. "How much money am I going to get and how little can I do to get it". "How can I possibly have a satisfactory evaluation? I'm at least above satisfactory if not exemplary". Heaven forbid any tarnishing of their self-esteem! "I get 12 sick days a year and I'm going to use them. Why do I need to save them? If I get seriously ill, I'll worry about it then". When officially disciplined, they come up with every possible excuse and usually end up saying "well Johnny did it too". Instead of sucking it up and taking the medicine, they draw others into it and try to justify their screw-up. Everyone wants instant gratification and they are unwilling or at least very unhappy about having to work to get ahead. Am I ever so glad I'm bailing out in 18 months!
    Last edited by BVH; 12-22-2006 at 11:54 PM.
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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by bwaites
    jtr-
    I'd disagree about us becoming a third world country, and here is why:
    There is a determined subgroup of people who will not allow their children or their friends children to take a cop out attitude towards education and advancement. That subgroup comes in two distinct flavors: First generation immigrants, like the Asians/Indians and some Eastern Europeans, who literally will their children to college because they recognize that education is how they will forge a new life, and old school people like myself and my friends who long ago recognized that life is simply easier, regardless of whether or not you really NEED to know some things, if you fill the box that says "college education".
    The thing is that this subgroup is probably under 10% of the population. With standards for the other 90% falling all the time I don't see how 10% can keep the entire population from falling into the abyss. Even worse, as I said earlier the bad attitude of the 90% rubs off on the remaining 10%. It's hard to see a bright future with today's "why bother" attitude and illogical thinking.

    Another factor here is that the children of many of the subgroup you mentioned, and especially their grandchildren, will be born into an affluent lifestyle thanks to the hard work of those who came before. Many may receive substantial enough inheritances that they don't even need to enter the working world. In short, they'll likely expect and be able to live off the previous generation's wealth. Since they won't be in the working world at all, any positive influence they may have on the other 90% will be far less.

    Sad to say, I see countries like China burying us quite soon although as they get more affluent I'm sure they will encounter the same problems we have. And if you think about it, perhaps today's attitudes were inevitable given the prior economic success of the US. Many already have all the material things they'll need at a young age. There just isn't anything to strive for, at least materially, for these children. Many will be able to live on inheritances. They have little else to drive them since a thirst for knowledge was never instilled in them. Perhaps that's the real problem here. As a society we need to educate young minds to want to learn, and then actively engage in all sorts of research. Educating to work in business where acquiring material wealth is the only goal is a dead end after a few generations. I often ask this question when people mention that becoming rich is their goal-"Well, when you're wealthy what will you do with the rest of your life?" Except for boiler plate, vague answers like "travel" I really never get a satisfactory answer to that. That's the real failing of our society-not instilling initiative in the younger generation.

    Don't just blame the kids, because the system is broke, and the only people that can force change are the parents. The question is will they?
    The parents are solely to blame. The problem is many don't see the system as broke because they're as hopelessly ignorant as their children.

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    *Flashaholic* js's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    tvodrd,

    THANKS!

    jtr1962,

    I disagree with you on the bit about us needing to stop glorifying anybody. Recognizing excellence goes hand in hand with recognizing excellence in people. And that includes actors and singers. I just LOVE Christina Aguilera! I love her voice, I love her music, and from what I have learned of her life and her person, I find her to be admirable.

    And I don't see a darn thing wrong with this.

    I also admired the heck out of my Graduate School Physcis thesis advisor. He is an amazing teacher, scientist, and person. I could tell a lot of wonderful stories about him and the classes I was so lucky as to have with him. He is a Feynmann to me!

    And I also see nothing wrong with this. Why would there be? Dr. Kenneth Brownstein was a role model for me when I was in college. He set the bar for teaching excellence, and also simply for cultivating a mind full of wonder and curiosity, as well as one endowed with reason and intelligence and scientific methods. I revelled in glorifying him.

    Anyway, enough said. And obviously, there's a lot of misplaced energy (of all kinds--money, attention, affection, etc.) given to celebrities, many of whom are very much LESS than deserving. No question. But that doesn't mean we should stop glorifying everyone and anyone.

    Moving on,

    College eductions.

    Yes. I will second an appreciation for BALANCE on this! There ARE other options besides college--or at least there used to be. These days, college is displacing and assimilating a lot that used to be the province of some other institution.

    In short, I'm talking about trade schools and apprenticeships. I actually dropped out of grad school to become a piano tuner-technician. I was feeling profoundly dissatisfied with so much book learning, with so much sitting and researching. I wanted to MAKE something; I wanted to learn a SKILL. And as I already played the piano, and had just purchased a used one, this idea came rather naturally. I started talking with the guy who tuned my piano about stuff and told him what I had done so far to my piano, and so on, and then one day he invites me, in so many words, to become his apprentice.

    I spent about three months working for free, two or three days a week, but I wasn't really working for "free". I got a top notch foundation in those months. And then, when I was obviously competent enough not to need so much supervision, he started paying me an hourly wage and I started working full time. I worked in that shop for just about a year, and learned that trade inside and out--not that I didn't have more to learn, though, --just that I got a thorough training.

    Honestly, it was one of the best things I ever did. There's nothing like hands on, practical learning! You learn FAST and WELL that way! Although, it is intense.

    The point is that not everyone is going to be a business person, or a computer person, or a college professor. The world needs mechanics and piano tuners and electricians and plumbers and welders, and so on.

    At this point, I suspect that even a mechanic or welder might be wise to get a college degree FIRST and then go to trade school, because an undergraduate degree is more and more what a high school diploma used to be. But there's no reason that trade schools and trade colleges can't teach all the subjects.

    I don't have the answers here--it's a freaking HUGE subject, obviously--but I do know that I have every bit as much admiration for a skilled welder or piano tuner as I do for a good college professor. I'm not sure that my attitude is widespread, though. ???

    Just some thoughts.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by js
    jtr1962,
    I disagree with you on the bit about us needing to stop glorifying anybody. Recognizing excellence goes hand in hand with recognizing excellence in people. And that includes actors and singers. I just LOVE Christina Aguilera! I love her voice, I love her music, and from what I have learned of her life and her person, I find her to be admirable.

    And I don't see a darn thing wrong with this.

    I also admired the heck out of my Graduate School Physcis thesis advisor. He is an amazing teacher, scientist, and person. I could tell a lot of wonderful stories about him and the classes I was so lucky as to have with him. He is a Feynmann to me!

    And I also see nothing wrong with this. Why would there be? Dr. Kenneth Brownstein was a role model for me when I was in college. He set the bar for teaching excellence, and also simply for cultivating a mind full of wonder and curiosity, as well as one endowed with reason and intelligence and scientific methods. I revelled in glorifying him.
    My rationale for not glorifying anybody is very simple-these people are simply making full use of whatever abilities they were born with. Everyone should be doing that. If some people happen to be born with greater ability in an area than others it's wonderful, but in my opinion they're lucky, not special. Society should expect them to use those abilities to better society as a whole just as it might expect someone who is only capable of sweeping to make full use of their talents. It may be no harder for Christina Aguilera to sing than it is for a mentally challenged person to learn to clean a toilet properly. Do we glorify the latter? Usually not. We shouldn't glorify the former, either. And interestingly, in a world of people like myself who pretty much lack any ability to enjoy music Christina Aguilera's talents might well be useless. Yes, for whatever reason the part of my brain having to do with music seems to not exist. And strangely it has nothing to do with being tone deaf. I can pick up subtle sounds in electronic devices which tell me exactly what is wrong sometimes. I just can't comprehend the purpose or joy of stringing sounds together for their own sake.

    As I said earlier, ant society should be the ideal we strive for. We should all just do the functions we're best suited to, and to the best of our ability, without being told (yes, leaders are not necessarily needed in such a society). This doesn't imply that we don't do other things, or improve upon any abilities we have, when we're not perfroming our primary function. However, I just don't see much need for glorification. Some praise is good, even necessary, solely as feedback on whether or not a task is performed well. Anything beyond that, like celebrity status or excessive wealth, is superfluous. I never remember having idols. There were some people and even fictitious characters in whom I admired certain traits. But wholesale glorification is never something I was comfortable either giving or receiving. In fact, I remember in grade school especially purposely giving wrong answers on tests just so I wouldn't have the excessive praise of the teachers. I didn't like it. Then as now I thought that just doing my best shouldn't be praised. Rather, not doing my best should be chastised. I suppose I might have been more comfortable under true communism (but not the warped kinds which have actually existed in places like the USSR) than under capitalism. I just find the pursuit of more wealth than is needed to live comfortably (i.e. probably a few million dollars nowadays) weird.

    I don't really expect that anyone will agree with my position or even understand it. It's probably way closer to some eastern ideals than western ones anyway.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    There are whole generations of people coming up in the world now who think that the world owes them a living, that they don't have to prove anything, that they are inherently skilled and worthy of major success even though they can't objectively and demonstrably show any skill or aptitude.
    At 66 I heard my parents say that about my generation and admit their parents had said it about their generation. Now the grandchildren of my generation are saying it.
    You can go back over 2000 years and find it being said and I'm sure a time machine would give us Ork the caveman saying that since the wheel was invented things have gone to pot.
    Look what sliced bread did for us.

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    I'm with Jim on this in a lot of ways.

    I am educated and well read, (My wife counted one time a few years ago, and I read about 60 magazines a month, and generally finish one-two historical or biographical novels a month, along with the gratuitous novels by writers like Clancy, Morrell, WEB Griffin, etc.)

    And yet, I OFTEN find myself wishing that I could just leave the world of medicine behind and go build cabinets or shoes (one of my patients is an amazing cobbler!), or something else with my hands.

    Craftsmanship of the "Old World" or "Yankee" tradition amazes me. My father in law, an EE who has made a small fortune (he would never admit it though) is an amazing woodworker in his spare time, but could never step away from his huge income to actually JUST do the craftsmanship thing.

    I could, and will, if I ever get to the point that he is at.

    But it isn't ALL about a college education.

    Some of it is about not accepting less than you are capable of. I cringe when I hear "That's close enough for government work" or "that's good enough for what we are getting paid". There is, of course, a point where you reach dimishing returns for the effort expended, but that point is NOT reached by about 90% of the population from what I can see!

    As far as education, though, education takes many faces. My mechanic is educated, as far as I am concerned, as is the group of guys installing my cabinets. (I'm wondering about the college educated cabinet designer, though, who has made at least 3 MAJOR measurement errors that I have found so far!)

    We need people who are educated enough to understand that what they are doing IS important, regardless of what it is.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that we have lost that most important of truisms, "If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right!" or as my southern born father would say, "If you haven't got time to do it right the first time, how are you ever going to find the time to fix it next time?"
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  18. #18

    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    One crucial factor in the large scale production of the "unskilled, and unaware of it", is the forced existence of a public school system. Unfortunately, most "private" schools are no better, as they are ruled, de facto, by gov't. They either conform to state and federal rules, or they don't get the dough.

    As long as any form of government controls the schools, all the big problems will not be going away, ever, no matter what is tried in any attempt to fix things (buzz word: "reform"). They will, in fact, get worse and worse. This is not pessimism on my part. The public school system, by it's nature and design, is a mediocrity machine that will continue to degrade. The entire system needs to be scrapped, in order to let the free market offer the solution. Some may say that's an impractical idea. I say it's the only practical idea.

    Jtr - I've enjoyed a number of your posts in the past, but this last one I did not enjoy at all. With all due respect, the two main thoughts in my mind as I was reading were, "do you have any idea what an injustice you do to yourself with some of those beliefs(?)", and, "geez, I hope he doesn't offer that stuff to others as guidance too often". I do understand your rationale, but highly disagree with it. Without the benefit of being able to fully express tone of voice in a forum post, I say these things out of concern, not facetiousness. There's a LOT I'm about to not say here because it would take me way too long. So, just a few points.

    Why would one place importance on punishment for bad, but not reward for good? Why would one say to someone else, upon viewing their acheivements, "big deal, that's what you should be doing anyway"? I can hardly think of a better way to kill enthusiasm and spirit. People are most definitely not ants in a colony. Healthy, rational glorification and praise is awesome! It's good for both the glorificator, and the glorificatee (lol). It serves psychological purposes. It's motivating. It's pleasureable! And these good, positive feelings are some of the things that make life colorful and worth living. It'd be a very gray, dull, lifeless world otherwise.

    Earned reward is not only good in the empirical sense. It goes much deeper than that. It's good for the soul.
    Last edited by Bimmerboy; 12-24-2006 at 01:05 PM.
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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bimmerboy
    Why would one place importance on punishment for bad, but not reward for good? Why would one say to someone else, upon viewing their acheivements, "big deal, that's what you should be doing anyway"? I can hardly think of a better way to kill enthusiasm and spirit. People are most definitely not ants in a colony. Healthy, rational glorification and praise is awesome! It's good for both the glorificator, and the glorificatee (lol). It serves psychological purposes. It's motivating. It's pleasureable! And these good, positive feelings are some of the things that make life colorful and worth living. It'd be a very gray, dull, lifeless world otherwise.

    Earned reward is not only good in the empirical sense. It goes much deeper than that. It's good for the soul.
    In case you didn't catch it I did mention something about positive feedback: "Some praise is good, even necessary, solely as feedback on whether or not a task is performed well." This could take the form of a pat on the back, verbal praise, even a reasonable amount of cash in the case of a business relationship. What I'm against is the creation of idols along the lines mentioned by js. Nobody is deserving enough to be put on a pedestal like that. Inevitably, when someone is idolized like that they will end up disappointing you because they are only human, flaws and all. I guess what I'm basically trying to say is I'm against celebrity status or excessive wealth. Nobody needs more than maybe ten million dollars, and absolutely nobody needs to be idolized. I see both things as counter to helping performance. The person will end up thinking they're so wonderful and thus see no need to improve. Even worse, the public will mostly see the same old, tired celebrities and not be exposed to any new blood. I know I'm sick to death of seeing many of the same overpaid actors in movie after movie, for example. And I hate the celebrity worship of the general public with a passion. If we really have to idolize anyone, then maybe it should be the soldiers who lay their lives on the line to protect us, or the scientists, doctors, and engineers who have to work hard for decades to give us new advances. However, I ultimately see the need to have heroes at all as an indication of how little we've advanced in the last few millenia. I also see it as dangerous. I remember an episode on the original Star Trek where the disembodied consicousness of a long dead super race mentioned that they had advanced to the point where they thought of themselves as gods, and this proved their ultimate undoing.

    As I said, I hardly expected anyone to agree with me. I hope I can provoke a bit of discussion, however. These are likely the final decades, maybe even years, of mankind. It might be nice if we could leave a permanent record somewhere of where we went wrong so the next intelligent species doesn't repeat our mistakes.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by js
    I just loved college. I loved the classes, the friends all around me, all of it. And yet, I'd hear disgruntled college students saying things like "School sucks! I HATE this. I hate math. I hate physics.
    LOL... I LOVE when one of my (guitar) students says that. It allows me to respond with "Well, I guess that means you also hate your computer, car, TV, and everything else... including your iPod." Usually, I receive the confused, yet inquisitive "Huh?", then hit 'em with a "science and math give us everything" answer. I think it's had a positive influence on some.

    Oh, and I love to tell them this during lessons, and get the chance many times a week... "This is NOT school! You have to actually THINK here!



    Edit: The attitude of "I hate this, and I hate that" is an implicit hatred of learning, and therefore the mind. You can't really blame the kids... they've been taught to feel that way. It's a public school thing, and they don't understand. It is really insidious. The parents' part of the blame comes in when they don't do what they can to break free of their own public style training, and teach their kids the same.

    2nd edit: I'm not fully satisfied with how I expressed the 1st edit. I'll try to re-phrase it after Christmas. Still have wrapping to do, and need to get a little more holiday spirit going! I feel like crapola today.
    Last edited by Bimmerboy; 12-24-2006 at 02:26 PM.
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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    jtr,

    You have intentionally conflated "idolize" with "glorify". They are NOT the same.

    I do NOT idolize Christina Aguilera. If I saw her in a store, I would not rush over and bother her for an autograph. I would not pay lots of money for a signed copy of a book or CD of hers. I would not be interested in a Kleenex that CA had blown her nose in.

    I do not idolize anyone. And I believe that if you look at my posts above, you will see that I clearly admit that there is a lot of misplaced energy given to celebrities!

    However, I do glorify people, ideas, emotions, causes, and many other things. You are right in saying that I would not agree with you. I do not. I do not for a second believe that we are a colony of ants, or that we are a beehive. These things are things which MUST exist as a whole, which are organized inside and out for the good of the whole. A single ant or a single bee, even a queen bee, would die all by itself. It can only exist as part of a greater whole.

    Not so with people and society. Not even close.

    It seems to me that your position is that people exist for the greater good of society--that our existence should be for the glory and greatness of the society in which we have our existence.

    I, on the other hand, believe that society exists for the greater good of the individual, and that when it has drifted away from that purpose that it has abrogated its' rightful foundation and must be abolished. The worst evils in the history of the world have all been perpetrated against individuals, or separate groups, for the so-called "greater good" or benefit of something "greater." Horrible, terrible, awful things. Astonishing acts of cruelty and torture--all done for some "greater" good.

    This disgusts me.

    Society does not exist except through the individual lives associated with it, and their actions and productions.

    As for the comment about each generation thinking the worse of the following one, it's a clever comment, and true in its way, and rather fun to drop into the mix,

    BUT

    I think it mixes up a few things which should not be mixed up. The fact is that in some areas there is a measureable and objective decline that can be documented. I mean, imagine if a group of parachuters were falling to earth, and one of them kept saying "We're so much lower now than we were just a minute ago. We're on such a downward path!" And the others kept saying "AH, come on Joe, stop crying wolf. That's what you said two minutes ago, and three minutes ago, and four minutes ago."

    You see my point? If you are in a successive decline, each generation WOULD say that about the next, because it would be true each time!

    And on the other hand, I think one of the reasons that each generation says that about the next is because of a subjective change in mores and societal standards. Things like divorce and race relations and attitudes towards women and minorites and homosexuality and marriage and so on. Each generation sees the next as decadent not necessarily because they ARE decadent, but simply because they are DIFFERENT in their moral standards, to some degree.

    I think that we are NOT in the last days of the human race or world culture. I think in many ways we are higher and better than we have ever been. I just don't think that our educational institutions and our attitudes towards eduction are amoung them.
    Last edited by js; 12-26-2006 at 04:21 PM. Reason: stupid computer acidentally entered this before I was done.
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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    I have some more time, so I wanted to respond in greater detail regarding the glorfying thing:

    Quote Originally Posted by jtr1962
    My rationale for not glorifying anybody is very simple-these people are simply making full use of whatever abilities they were born with. Everyone should be doing that. If some people happen to be born with greater ability in an area than others it's wonderful, but in my opinion they're lucky, not special. Society should expect them to use those abilities to better society as a whole just as it might expect someone who is only capable of sweeping to make full use of their talents.
    This is an assumption. You are assuming that Christina Aguilera, for example, is a good singer simply because of her natural, inborn talent. Or that, for example, Einstein was a scientific genius because he was born that way. And that short of slothfulness on his part, that is the role he was destined to play in soceity. So that when he plays it, and succeeds, that that is nothing special, but only par for the course.

    This is a VERY questionable assumption! First of all, Einstein (as well as Christina Aguilera) worked his BUTT OFF, and struggled and strove with every fibre of his being. It is true that without his natural aptitude he would not have been a scientific genius--yes. But it is also true, and more important, that without all his hard work and effort and energy, he would not have been a scientific genius.

    The smartest kid in my high school class, BY FAR, did not, objectively speaking, societally speaking, distinguish himself in any way. He was one of my best friends in high school, and afterwards, and I thought the world of him and his natural inborn intelligence. Damn he was bright! But he was not really driven (except in sports--we swam together) and he did not develope any extraordinary drive. I was sure that he would someday be recognized by some larger group of people than just myself, but, he passed away a couple years ago, and so we will never know.

    The point is just that talent alone is nowhere NEAR enough, is no guarantee, even with a normal amount of drive and effort. The corrolary may be that with enough drive and determination, nearly anything is possible. Certainly history can provide many such examples.

    Moving on . . .

    It may be no harder for Christina Aguilera to sing than it is for a mentally challenged person to learn to clean a toilet properly. Do we glorify the latter? Usually not. We shouldn't glorify the former, either.
    We should glorify the mentally challenged and handicapped. And isn't that the whole point of the Special Olympics? And, on just a local level, such people should be glorified. When they acheive outstanding things, they should get outstanding acheivement awards and recognition. Their teachers should see to this; their parents should see to this.

    A friend of mine from Physics grad school was very bright and multi-talented, but his brother was mentally challenged. And his parents made every bit as big a deal over his brothers high school diploma as over my friends PhD.

    As a teacher myself, I expected more from those students whom I knew were smarter than the others.

    It's no kind of logic to say that because a mentally challenged toilet cleaner doesn't get the same kind of recognition as Einstein or Christina Aguilera that nobody should have any recognition whatsoever!

    And interestingly, in a world of people like myself who pretty much lack any ability to enjoy music Christina Aguilera's talents might well be useless. Yes, for whatever reason the part of my brain having to do with music seems to not exist. And strangely it has nothing to do with being tone deaf. I can pick up subtle sounds in electronic devices which tell me exactly what is wrong sometimes. I just can't comprehend the purpose or joy of stringing sounds together for their own sake.
    First of all, the world most patently ISN'T full of people who lack any appreciation for music. In fact, the evidence suggests that the vast majority of people have at least some appreciation for music.

    Second, I'm truly sorry that you lack this faculty! For myself, I can say that it gives me no end of joy and pleasure and energy.

    Third, as a faculty it IS something which can be developed and enlarged with attention and effort. If that ever interests you.

    But in any case, the point is that when someone like Christina Aguilera (and people associated with her--her team) makes music that gives so many people joy and pleasure, it's only natural that they will respond to this and be inclined to give something back for what they received! Her music, and the music of a great many others, enriches my life. I shudder to think of my life without music. It would be decidedly less. And so I give thanks! And sometimes that thanks is in the form of glorification! And that also pleases me.

    As I said earlier, ant society should be the ideal we strive for. We should all just do the functions we're best suited to, and to the best of our ability, without being told (yes, leaders are not necessarily needed in such a society). This doesn't imply that we don't do other things, or improve upon any abilities we have, when we're not perfroming our primary function.
    I think it kind of DOES imply this! Even the notion that a person has a "primary function" is anathema to me! Frankly, I find it rather disturbing that you are suggesting it! A person is so much more than whatever job he or she has, whatever "main" role he or she is playing in society. It's a short step from this thinking to the thinking which has society determining the roles of the individuals, because, of course, it knows best what it needs, and what each individual should be doing for best effect.

    Screw that! If we disgree on this, we disagree on something so fundamental and momentus that further discussion is almost pointless, except maybe just to clarify our respective positions. I reject the notion that I have any primary function. I reject the notion that society should dictate my life for its greater good.

    However, I just don't see much need for glorification. Some praise is good, even necessary, solely as feedback on whether or not a task is performed well. Anything beyond that, like celebrity status or excessive wealth, is superfluous. I never remember having idols. There were some people and even fictitious characters in whom I admired certain traits. But wholesale glorification is never something I was comfortable either giving or receiving.
    As mentioned earlier, this is conflating idolization with glorification and praise and they are not the same things.

    And furthermore, it goes WAY beyond giving praise for a job well done. LOVE is in close proximity to praise and glory, and it goes beyond actions, and applies to personalities and states of being. When we love someone and glorify them, it's as much about what they ARE as it is about what they DO. In my opinion, we should be proud of what we do and what we are, and if not, we should be working hard to do better and different, and/or be better and different. That is TRUE self-esteem. Making your SELF be something that YOU ESTEEM. It's sometimes called pride. And it's a great and good thing when it is healthy and real and not just meglamania or petty egotism.

    In fact, I remember in grade school especially purposely giving wrong answers on tests just so I wouldn't have the excessive praise of the teachers. I didn't like it. Then as now I thought that just doing my best shouldn't be praised. Rather, not doing my best should be chastised. I suppose I might have been more comfortable under true communism (but not the warped kinds which have actually existed in places like the USSR) than under capitalism.
    Indeed. You are talking as if you are a state representative from a China school administration. But that's not what gets me. What gets me is that you intentionally made yourself less than you were in order to blend in, in order not to be singled out.

    This is what happens, I think, in societies and cultures which reject the heroic and refuse to glorify excellence in people. The high gets dragged down (or reduces itself willing) to the lowest common denomenator. Kurt Vonneget has a Sci-fi story about such a society where the smarter people are forced to wear these devices which impede their mental functioning to the point where they end up being only as smart as the average person. Literal equality, as opposed to equality under the law, and equality of oportunity. It makes me sick.

    Everyone has access to excellence. Everyone has the opportunity to excell. And pretending that we are all equal, or that we are all nothing when compared to the greatness of society, is tantamount to crippling those who run faster, and blinding those who see farther. It's envy, plain and simple. Those who excell do not take anything away from anyone. We are not less because Shakespeare's plays are so great. We are not slower because someone else runs faster than us. Instead we should glory in the greatness of human achievement, in human excellence and accomplishments, individual or otherwise.

    I just find the pursuit of more wealth than is needed to live comfortably (i.e. probably a few million dollars nowadays) weird.
    Most people would agree with you, and few people are in fact pursuing that much wealth. Most are pursuing excellence and "success", and some are pursing enough wealth to make them comfortably well-off, but very few are out to be billionaires.

    I don't really expect that anyone will agree with my position or even understand it. It's probably way closer to some eastern ideals than western ones anyway.
    So, on that note, we can just agree to disagree and leave it at that, unless of course, you feel I have misunderstood or misrepresented your position. In which case, please feel free to correct me.
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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    Without responding to every point you made, js, you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the ideal I'm striving for. You mentioned something about the horrible evils perpetuated upon individuals in the name of greater good. Well, a so-called free and capitalist society such as ours does more than its fair share of that. This isn't solely the province of evil empires like the former USSR (I think we can both agree that was not a good system to live under). The difference is that the USSR did a lot of harm to its own citizens, the US instead does harm mostly to those who can't vote for its leaders (i.e. mostly citizens of Third World countries). We take some natural resources, patent others so the native population can't benefit, make wars to secure what we need, pollute the entire globe (i.e. 5% of the world's people but 25% of the pollution). We may not be as blatant about it or so obvious, but the end result is exactly the same-people in other countries needlessly suffer so those here can have a higher standard of living. Anyway, this isn't my main point but I felt the need to mention it. We may perpetuate less harm than many other countries, even do some good from time to time, but don't for a second think that any country which recognizes individuals over the collective is inherently less harmful. Perhaps to its own citizens, but not necessarily to the world at large.

    Now the main point is that under an ideal society I describe nobody is coerced to do anything. Remember what I said about ant society. Ants have no leaders. They just all do whatever functions they're biologically suited for without being told. While I most certainly do not see humans as preprogrammed machines like ants, I think an ideal would be to bring up children in such a way that the act in the best interests of society while simultaneously developing fully whatever abilities they may have (both for their own and society's benefit). Sure, each individual will have a primary function which would be dictated by what they can do the best but they may also have secondary functions doing things they enjoy doing the most. And in most cases the primary function will be something the enjoy anyway. After all, the majority don't do something enough to become proficient at it unless they at least derive some enjoyment from it. I may have had the ability to become a professional cyclist, an accountant, a mason, an electrician, perhaps even a musician if I liked any of these things enough to practice them more. In the end I became an engineer not solely because I had innate ability in that area but also because I enjoyed it enough to practice it. I also cycle recreationally, do some electrical wiring and ceramic tiling at home, do my own taxes, etc. However, I would not want to do any of these things for a living, nor would I live in a society where the state decided what one would do.

    Practically, what I'm suggesting would involve more a change in education than anything else-children would be taught to think of society first rather than themselves. There's nothing inherent in the human condition which makes us selfish. Rather, it's learned behavoir. Many of the problems you mentioned you experienced with your students were exactly because of the selfish behavoir they learned as children from both their parents and big business. Had they been taught instead that they are nothing without society and society is nothing without their individual contributions (i.e. an affirmation both of their place in society and their own individual worth to society) they may have had different attitudes. So you see, I do indeed value the individual for the difference they can make in society. However, I also see that if not for the context of society that same individual's existence is utterly pointless. For example, if nobody existed to read your posts, would you even bother to write them? I know I wouldn't.

    Continuing the above line of thought, given thorough enough schooling each individual would perform their function(s) without the need for coercion (after all, they would see it was in their and society's best interests). Each would receive based on how hard they worked (your point about hard work being worth as much as raw talent is a very valid one which I agree with 100%), not on how much society valued whatever particular talents they had (this is a major failing of capitalism). And most importantly an individual's worth in society's eyes would likely be based more on the sum of their proficiencies in one or more skills rather than their net worth. While expecting or even striving for absolute equality would be a fallacy since people thankfully aren't all the same, we would at least succeed in eliminating the extremes (i.e. the very rich and the very poor) which exist under capitalism. We would reduce the number of people doing jobs they hate solely because society doesn't value things they might be better at, or enjoy more. Best of all, we would largely get rid of the cancer of materialism, advertising, and superficialty that is capitalist society (and the wholesale environmental devastation which goes along with it).

    A couple of other minor things I need to clarify:

    First of all, the world most patently ISN'T full of people who lack any appreciation for music. In fact, the evidence suggests that the vast majority of people have at least some appreciation for music.
    I said I lacked that ability personally, not that the majority did. As for developing any interest in music, well let's say that I tried and failed. I just get very little of the ecstacy that others say I'm supposed to experience. And for most types of music I actually end up with a splitting headache. I suppose this might be because the part of the brain dealing with sounds is probably one of the most primitive parts. Either by training or birth this "reptilian" part of my brain either doesn't work or doesn't exist. Not just in regards to music but in other areas. I have no overriding urge to procreate, for example. And I really have no ability to react to pheromones or other subtle scents (a mention on another forum about how females "smell" different was utterly outside my realm of experience). You can't develop what you don't have to begin with.

    As mentioned earlier, this is conflating idolization with glorification and praise and they are not the same things.
    As I see it praise -> glorification -> idolization are different degrees of the same basic emotion. Or at least that's how my brain sees it. Maybe I feel things differently than most others too. Perhaps the same traits which make me a good engineer dull my abilities in some other areas.

    Indeed. You are talking as if you are a state representative from a China school administration. But that's not what gets me. What gets me is that you intentionally made yourself less than you were in order to blend in, in order not to be singled out.
    This was simple survival-in my neighborhood smart kids and/or teacher's pets (which is what the excessive praise effectively made me) had the crap beat out of them. It happened to me enough so that I learned to just try not to stand out in any way, at least until my peers were old enough to respect me for my own unique abilities (that didn't happen until high school). I did at least finally beat the crap out of one of my instigators with a crow bar in 5th grade. Landed him in the hospital for a few weeks. He never saw me coming, either. Anyway, I actually liked the praise in high school but here instead of doing poorly to fit in I tried to help others and bring them up to my level. It also helped that I went to a specialized high school where there weren't that large differences between me and others. I was probably in the upper 20%, but even the lowest 20% would have been in the top 10% in most schools. I loved that place more than anything which came before or after.

    This is what happens, I think, in societies and cultures which reject the heroic and refuse to glorify excellence in people. The high gets dragged down (or reduces itself willing) to the lowest common denomenator.
    I hope you can see by now that I'm all about bringing the bottom up, not the top down. Based on your observations about today's youth, it seems that despite our society which values the individual, or perhaps because of it, we are indeed experiencing the high getting dragged down. Doesn't sound like a good system to me. While many aspects of socialism/communism are inarguably evil, at least they managed to give top notch education to more of their citizens despite having fewer material resources. So did the US under capitalism, at least until about 30 or 40 years ago. Then again, self-sacrifice was part of the national ethos at the time. It isn't any more.

    To be continued later-I have to eat now...

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    hey the economy is doing great right? seems the dumber they come out of school the higher the dow goes, maybe more dumb kids is what we need.
    I'll laugh with you js when that kid becomes a millionaire stock broker (then becomes depressed, but that's another story..)
    ..seems there are loads of million and billiomaires that are pretty darn dumb.. alot of them get rich as salesmen, makes sense doesn't it?
    ..if one year every high school student qualitfied for college, would it even be possible for them to go? someone has to build the pyramids.. we can't all design 'em..

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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    OK, I'm baaack.....

    Quote Originally Posted by js
    And pretending that we are all equal, or that we are all nothing when compared to the greatness of society, is tantamount to crippling those who run faster, and blinding those who see farther. It's envy, plain and simple. Those who excell do not take anything away from anyone. We are not less because Shakespeare's plays are so great. We are not slower because someone else runs faster than us. Instead we should glory in the greatness of human achievement, in human excellence and accomplishments, individual or otherwise.
    We're not equal, or the same, nor should making everyone exactly alike be our aim. Still, I find it funny how more and more in our "free" society there is intolerance for those would disagree with us, hurt our feelings, drive faster than we can, or even inconvenience us a little. This intolerance has come in the form of ever more asinine laws which punish people for doing things which may harm them or others, but which necessarily don't. And traffic laws are a perfect example of exactly what you say-literally crippling those who can run faster just to accomodate those who can't or won't. Any time society deems something a right, standards for whatever that something is inherently get diluted in order for all to have access. So maybe the converse of what you say is true-those who can't excel seek to take away from those who can, perhaps because they are at least a little bit jealous of the praise heaped on the high achiever, or perhaps because they are just plain too lazy to improve their own abilities. Maybe in a society where all were trained from birth to try their best they would if not appreciate the highest achievers more at least not hinder them in any way.

    I think that we are NOT in the last days of the human race or world culture. I think in many ways we are higher and better than we have ever been. I just don't think that our educational institutions and our attitudes towards eduction are amoung them.
    Just to clarify, while educational standards as well as the very desire to learn are lower than they've been in a long time, I don't feel that is the real reason why the demise of the human race is imminent. We've lived through dark ages before, if indeed that is what we're on the cusp of here. Rather, it's the wholesale environmental destruction and the sheer numbers of humans which are the real threat here. What happens if we reach the tipping point in a feedback loop which causes runaway global warming? This may have happened on Venus. The planet would be rendered unihabitable. I feel we may well have past this point of no return already. Certainly action should have been taken decades ago. Had more people been taught from birth to not think of their selfish needs first such action may well have prevented the oncoming catastrophe. Emotionally, I really hope you're right, humanity survives for many millennia, and learns to live in harmony with the Earth. Intellectually, I give mankind 1 in 10000 odds of making it to 2100.

    I'll close for now but thanks for a thoroughly enjoyable discussion. We may have to agree to disagree on some things in the end, but at least we both expressed our viewpoints in a civilized manner with appropriate respect. And we're probably in fundamental agreement on more things than not.

  26. #26
    Flashaholic* d'mo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    Great thread. It got me thinking…

    My wife is a big fan of American Idol and loves to watch the preliminary selection. I understand that only the best and worst make it to air, but personally, I find watching the poor performers painful. There are countless, poor deluded individuals that stand before professionals and think they can carry a tune. It’s a rare individual like William Hung who stands up, admits he has no talent at all and is just there for the fun of it.

    I find myself wondering what causes someone to hold the perception that they are something that they are not. Is it delusional? Some sort of psychosis? I’m of the impression that this is a recent cultural phenomenon – we’re daily living with the “No, I’m not a doctor, but I stayed in a Holiday Inn express last night” mentality. Frightening.

    Twenty years ago, the president of any given company started in the mailroom, worked his way up through sales, service, engineering and only then was qualified to enter management. He or she knew the company inside and out and were vested in its success and that of his associates. Now, CEOs are hired off the street because they have fancy titles. They have little or no association with coworkers and no interest in what actually happens on a day-to-day basis. Their arrogance and “superior” education have taught them that they don’t need to care. Money is what’s important and selling one product is identical to selling any other.

    We’ve become a culture of selfishness, embracing the “every man for himself” philosophy. The situation at Enron is not uncommon – it happens every day when executives care little about the nuances that make organizations unique.

    Like the deluded contestants on American Idol, they have no idea they are singing off key and are downright outraged when their efforts don’t pay off. Most of the time, it’s the innocent or bystanders that face their wrath. How many people in positions of power are willing to humble themselves like Mr. Hung?


    To illustrate, how twisted our culture has become, my brother, a public school teacher, recently sent the following (it’s a bit tongue and cheek, please allow me to apologize in advance):

    Then & now


    Scenario: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.

    1960 - Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack's rifle, goes to his car and gets his to show Jack.

    2006 - School goes into lockdown, FBI and Swat team called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

    Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.

    1960 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends. Nobody goes to jail, nobody arrested, nobody expelled.

    2006 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them both with assault and both are expelled even though Johnny started it.

    Scenario: Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.

    1960 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by Principal. Sits still in class.

    2006 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.


    Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his father's car and his Dad gives him a whipping.

    1960 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

    2006 - Billy's Dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their Dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

    Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some headache medicine to school.

    1960 - Mark shares headache medicine with Principal out on the smoking dock.

    2006 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car and parent's home searched for drugs and weapons.


    Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.

    1960: Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, and goes to college.

    2006: Special interest group takes up Pedro’s cause. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given a diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he can't speak English.

    Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, and blows up a red ant bed.

    1960 - Ants die.

    2006 - BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

    Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.

    1960 - In a short time Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

    2006 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison.


    Sad, So sad.
    John 1:5 - The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    John Lennon said it right: "They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool."

    There is little tolerance in this country for anything other than "average." Not in race, religion, and so on, but especially intellect. Everybody seems to want everything to be like white bread -- boring, bland, and uniform. Don't get any new ideas 'cause you might stand out. Around here (upstate NY), even the smart kids are inclined to be like a bad redneck stereotype in their attitudes about life, people, politics, etc. They settle for a life a little above stupid until you start prying the smart out of them with a crowbar. It gets harder every year. Maybe some day it will be OK to know who Harold Eugene "Doc" Edgerton was and to still be able to quote every "Git'R'Done" routine, too, if you want.

    While I dearly love football, I'd like to see maybe 10% of the school budget spent on it moved over to art, music, and a science lab, but a state title is more important. I'd like to see NYS Regents/National Merit Scholarships go from the 4" of column space in the paper now back to the full page they used to be when the names were released years ago. Especially when back then there was a fraction of the students in the high schools now, but we still had only about one teacher for every 25 to 30 students. I'll settle for getting the dropout rate below 10% -- you do not want to know what it really is now, urban or rural around here.

    I think I could put it best by saying that I don't see very many dumb people, but I do see hoards of ignorant ones. We just seem to settle for dumb.
    "Show them a light, and they'll follow it anywhere..."

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    Doc Edgerton - gee didn't he have something to do with that place that made fans of of Rt28 near Woodstock

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    Well, more likely the address would have been 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307, c/o the Electrical Engineering Dept.

    He had a bright idea with lots of applications. Pretty neat photographer as well. I attended a visting lecture of his and the man really knew how to teach.
    "Show them a light, and they'll follow it anywhere..."

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Unskilled and Unaware of it.

    just because you have talent, doesn't mean you will use it...

    The Sad Story of Raise and Fall of William J. Sidis

    "At age nine William attempted to enroll at Harvard, and though the entrance exams were not a challenge for the young intellect, he was turned down on the basis that he was too "emotionally immature" for college life. As William waited for the Harvard admissions board to capitulate, he spent the intervening time at Tufts College correcting mistakes in mathematicians' books, perusing Einstein's theories for possible errors, mastering foreign languages, and diligently collecting streetcar transfer slips. He discovered that he could mentally calculate the day of the week for any given date in the past or in the future, and he wrote four books. When the boy prodigy reached eleven years of age in 1909, the prestigious university finally relented and accepted William as a student."

    http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=715

    edit: changed paragraph... sorry about posting too long...

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