Sunday, December 09, 2012

We Need Schools To Turn Out More Robots For The Workplace?

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When I was a senior executive at Warner Bros, I used to drive our head of human resources crazy. She claimed my requirements for people to work in my office were down right insane. I insisted that my assistants be able to discuss not just music, film, art and popular culture but also literature, history and current events. She kept asking me how many words per minute I needed them to type. My longtime assistant, Ilene, was a Columbia grad who was not just more educated but also smarter than most of the company's senior executives, many of whom had a zero more on the end of their paychecks than she did. But if an artist-- even someone like a Joni Mitchell, David Byrne, Lou Reed, Morrissey-- came for a meeting and I was tied up for a few minutes, I knew Ilene could talk to them about Tolstoy, Ingmar Bergman, Roy Cohn, Virginia Woolf, Willem de Kooning, David Mamet, Rumi or just about anything else they had on their mind. Some executives always picked secretaries with tight sweaters and big jugs.

According to a story in The Telegraph last week, J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird are being dropped from most school's curricula.
American literature classics are to be replaced by insulation manuals and plant inventories in US classrooms by 2014.

A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace.

Books such as JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird will be replaced by "informational texts" approved by the Common Core State Standards.

Suggested non-fiction texts include Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California's Invasive Plant Council.

The new educational standards have the backing of the influential National Governors' Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and are being part-funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Jamie Highfill, a teacher at Woodland Junior High School in Arkansas, told the Times that the directive was bad for a well-rounded education.

"I'm afraid we are taking out all imaginative reading and creativity in our English classes.

"In the end, education has to be about more than simply ensuring that kids can get a job. Isn't it supposed to be about making well-rounded citizens?"

Supporters of the directive argue that it will help pupils to develop the ability to write concisely and factually, which will be more useful in the workplace than a knowledge of Shakespeare.

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4 Comments:

At 12:52 AM, Blogger John said...

Not only robots for the workplace but also 1) mindless consumers ("channel one"), 2) performers/viewers-in-training for our latter-day gladiatorial games and 3) fodder for our imperial military adventures (Vitter amendment).

John Puma


 
At 6:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After all, it's not like us low income people or our kids have dreams, creativity, talent, or intelligence. Ask John Scalzi about that sometime. Sigh.

Kiterea

 
At 9:45 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Well, if anything proved Springsteen's line "We busted out of class had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three-minute record than we ever learned in school", it would be reading insulation manuals in school!

 
At 5:46 PM, Anonymous me said...

I insisted that my assistants be able to discuss not just music, film, art and popular culture but also literature, history and current events.

Whoa, a "liberal" education! What are you, some kinda commie?


To help explain what's gone wrong in this country, here are a few thoughts on public education:


There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge in every country is the surest basis of public happiness.

- George Washington


Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?

- Ronald Reagan


Universal education is the most corroding and disintegrating poison that liberalism has ever invented for its own destruction.

- Adolf Hitler

 

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