Posts filed under “General Knowledge”

IS “STEM” EDUCATION ENOUGH?

Noah Webster, famous educator.

We have heard a great deal about STEM education in the past few years. Dr. Boli admits to having been puzzled the first time he heard the term: why was botany suddenly so important to American competitive vigor, and why not the roots, leaves, and flowers as well? But he soon discovered that we were dealing with an acronym. The power of acronyms in political thought would be a subject for another essay; for now, we may note only that, once an acronym for it has been discovered, the thing becomes true, and the necessity of implementing the acronym cannot be questioned.

But is STEM really what we need? Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are all good things, in moderate quantities. But they are not the whole universe. The United States already leads the world in the number of computer-science graduates working at Starbucks until they can get a real job. Do we really need to create more? Is the demand for baristas really so insatiable?

It seems to Dr. Boli that what is lacking in the discussion of STEM is balance. It is good to teach our young people to think scientifically, but they should also be able to think in other ways. An architect, for example, ought to have a solid grasp of engineering, or his buildings will fall on his head, or on someone else’s head. But if he has nothing in his head but engineering, then we shall be subjected to the aesthetics of the second half of the twentieth century, and it was enough to live through the International Style once. Engineering should be made to serve an artistic vision, which is precisely what is missing from the discussion of STEM in education.

So Dr. Boli would propose diverting the discussion of STEM education into a broader field. He identifies four main components of education, and all four of them are necessary if we are to build the world Dr. Boli wants to live in.

First, we must not abandon Science. The ability to think scientifically is necessary in every discipline. Even a poet needs to recognize when her meter is defective. Science, in Dr. Boli’s mind, includes mathematics, which is the most scientific of all the sciences, as well as technology and engineering, which are the application of scientific principles to useful purposes.

But we also need the Humanities. By the Humanities, Dr. Boli means everything that appeals to the soul by other means than pure reason, but especially in written form. Poetry, religion, criticism, fiction—the great works of the human spirit are as necessary to the formation of young minds as the great principles of science.

To the list Dr. Boli will add Art. Not that art might not be included in the humanities, but Dr. Boli makes it a separate field of education because he believes that young people must be creators of art, and not just consumers of it. Every child ought to learn to draw: not just by being given paper and a box of crayons, but by being taught that there are methods of reproducing on the paper, with the crayons, what one sees in life.

For the same reason, Dr. Boli separates Music as its own special category in education. Every young person ought to be proficient in at least one musical instrument, even if it is his own voice. Again, the production of music, rather than mere passive consumption, is what is wanted.

Dr. Boli believes that any child educated in these four fields will become a well-rounded adult fitted for any station in life and welcome in the best society. Science, the Humanities, Art, and Music are the foundations of not only a balanced curriculum but a balanced life. As it happens, they also make an easily remembered acronym. Dr. Boli therefore humbly suggests that his readers write their state legislators and inform them that we, the concerned citizens of such and such state, will not rest until all our children are given the SHAM education they deserve.

Social media for a socialist paradise.
Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponDigg thisBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page

THE CODE OF THE GENTLEMAN.

It is no secret that it is easier in our North American society to be male than to be female, to be heterosexual rather than anything else, and to be white rather than any of the other decorative colors in which the human species is available. There is much hand-wringing by self-identified liberal white males about how unfair it is that they have this advantage, and much grumbling among self-identified conservative white males about how everybody seems to be trying to make them feel guilty for the way they were born.

Dr. Boli would suggest that the liberals and the conservatives, though they may never agree in politics, may come to an accommodation in everyday social intercourse. He proposes that men who wish to get along in modern society should adopt the old-fashioned code of the gentleman.

A gentleman always treats others with respect, even if he privately thinks their heads are full of excelsior. He may have the most bizarre opinions of his own superiority, but a gentleman is as courteous to people he considers his inferiors as he is to the ones he considers his peers.

If males of privileged classes, whatever classes those might be, could bring themselves to behave as gentlemen, at once all the inequalities of their position would begin to fade away. The questions that most provoke us simply would not come up.

Racism? A gentleman knows certain forms of courtesy that are universally applicable; he has them ready to hand, and even if he privately holds the most disgusting ideas on the subject of race, they will not affect his actions in society in the least.

Sexism? A gentleman simply would not interrupt a woman, or denigrate her opinions, or attempt to stand in the way of her ambitions—because he would not do that to anyone. It simply isn’t done.

Gay marriage? It is not a question for a gentleman. A gentleman may have his private opinions on the subject, and his private opinions may be measured or lunatic, according to the particular gentleman’s mind; but a gentleman cannot conceive of how the details of a particular couple’s intimate life would be of any concern to him. A marriage to him is a public declaration that a couple intend to share dishwashing duties according to an agreed-upon schedule.

Transgendered persons? If a gentleman meets someone who identifies herself as a woman, it simply does not occur to him to say, “I doubt that.” That would not be a gentlemanly thing to do.

Sexual harassment in the workplace? It is impossible, because it brings down on his head, quite automatically, the most horrific penalty a gentleman can imagine—the penalty of hearing others say, That man is not a gentleman.

In fact, there is no reason such a code cannot be adopted by all classes and however many sexes you like to count. One does not have to call oneself a gentleman, of course. One can be anything one likes and still follow the code.

Dr. Boli does not mean to suggest that all the problems of the world would be solved if we all adopted the code of the gentleman. He merely suggests that it would bring the solution a little closer.

Social media for a socialist paradise.
Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponDigg thisBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page

IN THE NEWS

MORE THAN THIRTY televisions in restaurants and waiting rooms around the metropolitan area mysteriously switched to a documentary film entitled “Daniel Burnham, Make No Little Plans.” Homeland Security agents are investigating but a spokesman warned that no one is safe and we should all be very afraid. Patrons at Dunnings Sports Bar in Etna were particularly affected by the outrage, with eight reported hospitalized with cardiac-related problems after an important play in the Bengals/Browns game was interrupted. The only clue to the identity of the mysterious malifactor behind the attack came in the closing credits of the documentary, which identified it as “A Brazo Production”.

Social media for a socialist paradise.
Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponDigg thisBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page

SLOWING DOWN FOR A WHILE.

Dr. Boli understands that one of the attractions of his celebrated Magazine on the Web has been that something new appears almost every day. Not necessarily something good, but something new. The time has come, however, when that schedule will no longer be possible to maintain, at least for a while.

Articles will still appear occasionally, and The Crimes of Galahad will continue in regular weekly installments through the end. And as soon as other commitments leave room for daily articles again, the daily schedule will resume.

Social media for a socialist paradise.
Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponDigg thisBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page

ANSWER TO A BILLBOARD.

A nearby university has put up billboards all over the city with the slogan “An MBA isn’t always the answer.”

Dr. Boli agrees. In fact, he will go further. If you believe that an MBA is ever the answer, then you are asking the wrong question.

Further than that, if you believe that, as the billboard suggests, the answer may instead be a degree in human resources management, then you do not even speak the English language, and should probably address that problem before attempting to answer any more questions.

Dr. Boli is being facetious, of course. The phrase “human resources” has, in fact, a very specific meaning in the English language. The common English term for “human resources” is “slaves.”

Social media for a socialist paradise.
Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponDigg thisBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page

ASK DR. BOLI.

Dear Dr. Boli: I have watched the debates of the various presidential candidates, and I feel as though I am no closer to a decision. (I am an independent and a non-voter, but primary season is no fun without a team to root for.) What do you consider the most important issues in the coming presidential election? —Sincerely, A Woman Who Enjoys Politics as a Spectator Sport.

Dear Madam: “Issues” are a distraction. The candidates will always shout loudest about the things that are least under the president’s control. The election will then be decided by people who “vote on the issues,” and who shake their heads in pity and disgust over the lazy rubes who show an insufficient interest in those “issues.” But the president will not be able to make America’s borders impervious to brownish people or stop corporate executives from making all their decisions on the basis of short-term greed. The president will not be able to make teenagers wise and moral, and will have no effect whatsoever on the crime rate in your neighborhood. The president will have no power to stop the war on Christmas, and no one will become a jot more tolerant because A was elected instead of B.

In fact, there is one thing and one thing only that matters in the election of a president. The government must provide certain essential services, and the provision of them is the special duty of the executive branch of government. Will the president we choose manage a competent executive branch that is capable of delivering those services to the citizens who need them? The more stridently a particular candidate insists on his particular “issue,” the more certain you may be that his honest answer to that question would be no.

Social media for a socialist paradise.
Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponDigg thisBuffer this pageEmail this to someonePrint this page