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06 January 2007 @ 07:03 pm
Noodles and education  
Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant noodles, died of a heart attack at age 96. I expect college students across the world to be in mourning.

I came across this essay on Why Nerds are Unpopular, which makes some interesting observations and conclusions about our school system - especially Junior High and High School. I'm curious what those of you with background and experience in education think of it - mahariel, horriblywrong, and lithera in particular.

"I think the important thing about the real world is not that it's populated by adults, but that it's very large, and the things you do have real effects. That's what school, prison, and ladies-who-lunch all lack. The inhabitants of all those worlds are trapped in little bubbles where nothing they do can have more than a local effect. Naturally these societies degenerate into savagery. They have no function for their form to follow."

"What bothers me is not that the kids are kept in prisons, but that (a) they aren't told about it, and (b) the prisons are run mostly by the inmates. Kids are sent off to spend six years memorizing meaningless facts in a world ruled by a caste of giants who run after an oblong brown ball, as if this were the most natural thing in the world. And if they balk at this surreal cocktail, they're called misfits."
Mahh p'tchaaprincessgeek on January 7th, 2007 05:16 pm (UTC)
My opinion is that this article is too long and I have to go. I'll read it later.
Victoria: readingmahariel on January 7th, 2007 05:46 pm (UTC)
My first impression is that I find more to agree with from the standpoint of the ex-nerd than I do of the ex-teacher.

When I was teaching, I told my students constantly that the point of many of the exercises I was giving them was not to fill their brains with a bunch of facts that probably wouldn't be in any way useful to them when they grew up, but to help them learn how to use their brains in different ways. I think some of them actually listened to me. The ones that did pay attention in my class learned how to use a textbook (not just read it), to research, and to use logic and reasoning skills.

I do agree that our current educational system is broken and getting worse. I don't think it's possible to "fix" it without scrapping it completely and starting over, and I don't see that happening because of the momentum of the bureaucracy. I read a study awhile back that said if you looked at the educational system at a federal level, there were currently three adminstrators for every teacher. That's a lot of red tape to cut through to improve things.

Mahh p'tchaaprincessgeek on January 7th, 2007 07:34 pm (UTC)
I think changing the educational system at this point would require a grassroots effort. A big one. But most teachers are so wishy-washy that it would never happen. Plus I see a lot of new teachers quitting because they disagree with "the system" and they leave rather than trying to make a difference in a small way. At least that's how it's been in my school.

I think its funny that this essay compares high school to a prison. You can see the prison from my classroom! haha!
C.glamazonwarrior on January 7th, 2007 06:38 pm (UTC)
It's funny that you should link that. I found the essay awhile ago, and hunted it down again a couple of weeks ago for my mom to read.
horriblywrong on January 8th, 2007 03:44 am (UTC)
At least speaking to the teacher side of things, I tentativly agree.
It's one of the reasons why, although I'm much more isolated than I prefer to be, I'm planning on staying at Darrington. At BHS, I was one enthusiastic person out of a large number. In Darrington, I'm a much larger percentage, and my influence is growing.

Other thoughts on this...I almost see the classic "outcast" nerd as a self-fulfilling prophecy (I count myself in this bunch btw). They are outcasts, so they act/dress/otherwise further the image of outcast. What happens? They are then treated continually like outcasts. So the cycle continues.

Anybody who doesn't fit into the prevalent culture of the school, no matter what it is, is almost given the "nerd" label, even without the higher intelligence the essay indicates. I have seen radically different groups as the bottom of the social food chain based on where I was teaching. Unfortunately, being intelligent, socially awkward and being, well, blatant, about high intelligence is almost always going to set you outside of the norm, except in very rare circumstances, so those people will always be the "nerd."

Rambling done now.