Where have all the scholars gone?

I was savoring my daily dose of inspired invective from Emperor Misha I when I saw this picture and almost snorted coffee all over my keyboard. My immediate thought was, “Where is competence on their list?”

Misha made this point about students trained under such a system: “Unless you’re applying for a job with the government, your prospective employer isn’t likely to be much impressed with you, and his reply may be less than, well, tolerant.”

Well, there seem to be many more techies trained under such touchie-feelie systems of education than I expected. A temporary employee at Microsoft took pictures of the inside of a Microsoft facility and posted them on his weblog. When the people at Microsoft discovered what he had done, he was amazed that they fired him!

I was amazed myself that most of the comments on his site were sympathetic. None of them seem to have heard of employee agreements or perhaps, having been educated in a similar school, they were unable to read and comprehend such agreements.

I tracked this further to a discussion on Slashdot and was appalled that the vast majority of the nerd commentators felt there was nothing wrong in what the employee had done.

I guess I have been deprived of the benefits of modern education. Tolerance is prized above comprehension. Has Rodney King’s famous line, “Can’t we all just get along?” become the mantra for American education? Say it isn’t so!

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0 Responses to Where have all the scholars gone?

  1. Barbara says:

    I have mixed feelings about this whole tolerance thing. Tolerance for differences in culture, opinion, beliefs, for simply being human and therefore often making mistakes. Yes. Tolerance for incompetence or evil. No. Sometimes I think we call laziness and apathy tolerance. Sometimes we tolerate that which should be improved.

    Education should produce productive, happy, ever-learning, citizens. I don’t have one word for what I want. I will go along with competence, at least for now.

  2. When school systems prize tolerance above comprehension, home schooling looks like the only way out. We see above average results from those fortunate enough to be able to do it.

  3. annonymous says:

    I think their point is that educated people recognize that there are few, if any, absolutes and are able to respect and tolerate differences in people, ways of life, ideas etc.

  4. Steve says:

    As a teacher I know that I have a lot more to do each day than promote tolerance, comprehension, as you mention, being one of them. However, in the course of teaching my subject matter, tolerance pokes its head up often–in English and history. You don’t think we can teach comprehension while teaching tolerance? A Holocaust survivor once commented that all of education, math, reading, social studies, etc, is meaningless if we fail to teach our students to be human. In a society where too many young people fail to learn any significant morals or ideas about proper behavior from their parents, schools bear the brunt of this. When we look around us and what we see are countries going to war, conflicts over differences lasting for centuries, etc. then doesn’t teaching tolerance seem an important thing for schools to do? I agree that tolerance probably doesn’t fit too highly on an empoyer’s list of skills necessary for a job, but in an ever increasingly group-oriented workplace wouldn’t it be nice if ever employee was able to set aside differences and tolerate others whether it be b/c of their ideas, or their cultural background. I have too many students who won’t work with others b/c of these reasons, too many who fail to realize that the world outside of our school community requires some understanding of differences. If we don’t teach out students some tolerance, then we are always going to have what we currently see, a citizenry of people who are apathetic (b/c tolerance doesn’t breed that), who are looking out only for themselves. Tolerance doesn’t take the place of comprehension in our schools. The school’s sign doesn’t mention all the other things they do, and I’m sure if you walked in you’d see much of what you’re looking for. It’s too bad you don’t see the problems that exist in our world b/c of a lack of tolerance, and not a lack of comprehension.

  5. Steve,

    You and I are in agreement on the vital necessity of tolerance. I think we may even agree on the senior importance of competence. My brief post hit only the high points and you have filled in some necessary gaps.

    Without comprehension, without the ability to read with understanding, we have the ugly spectacle of tolerance degenerating into placid acceptance of hate crimes and terrorism. Without understanding, tolerance is little more than indifference.

    You might want to read my more recent post, Fumble, Stumble & Fail to see how this emphasis is affecting businesses.

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