Truth in Fiction Pt. CMVIII

Two related excerpts from Orson Scott Card’s Duplex. The main character is a sophomore in high school and these are his observations regarding his education:

They all thought they were “Getting an Education.” It was like they were all being taught one set of dance moves, a single piece of choreography. If they worked hard and really got it down, would they be dancers? Absolutely not. Knowing one dance doesn’t mean you know how to dance. All these high school students, including him, weren’t becoming “educated.” They were being trained. For what? to perform tasks that only had meaning when they were performed at school. We are learning the dance of public secondary education. Unless we become high school teachers, God forbid, we will never have to perform that dance again or even think about it.

And here’s the second quote, just a bit later in the narrative:

(School) is just a way of keeping adolescents out of the labor pool precisely when minds and muscles are at their most creative and flexible, so that kids don’t get into the workforce until they’re more nearly untrainable and unadaptible.


6 thoughts on “Truth in Fiction Pt. CMVIII

  1. My teachers in high school told me that they were there to teach me how to learn, more than to teach me specific things.
    I think they were mostly right, though the math and physics (and chemistry) served me well during the rest of my life.

  2. I teach computers at a STEM college and when I was in College about 50 years ago the engineering and in general STEM students were bad at liberal arts and not that interested but wonderful in anything science. That has not changed really but the level has dropped. Yes they do not have interest in liberal arts but they really do not have interest in STEM in general. If it is not their major they have no interest and even only interested in a very small area of their major, e.g. gaming. I have many students who have the attention span of a two year old. They can not stay away from their phone and have a hard time expressing their thoughts even in their field.
    And I have seen the change for the worse in the time I have been teaching, first 28 years in the IT field now 20 years teaching.

  3. I have to agree with the other commenters before me. Kids today have been programmed and conditioned to rely on their phones to access search engines and wikis for all their information needs. And those resources are heavily curated and designed to steer them to the information that Big Data wants them to have.
    My son, regrettably, is a victim of this. He has no interests outside of gaming and consuming Screw tube videos about gaming. I have tried to broaden his horizons and expose him to other forms of media, but he has no interest in reading books of almost any genre. Now it is time for him to choose a path for himself after high school, and he is not able conceptualize a future for himself that does not revolve around playing video games. If he has the interest in it, I would encourage him to learn to code, become a programmer or game designer, but I don’t think he as the capacity to focus his attention to such tasks.
    Unfortunately, life for him will be much harder than I would like.

  4. Mr. Card absolutely nailed it. My wife is an indoctrinator of 21 years and counting (11th grade history), and she has no idea that this is what she is doing. The fact that she isn’t allowed to fail more than 3 kids per 120+/- kids per year, or the fact that in her 2nd year of “teaching” she was told that if she continued teaching one illiterate 11th grader to read, her contract would would not be renewed did not wake her up to the fact that teaching was NOT ALLOWED in our Texas public schools. Take off and nuke the entire system from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

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