Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We need more nerds

This is just sad, seeing a quote like this: “ the heart of hard economic times, 33 of 50 states increased the amount spent on prisons while decreasing dollars spent on K-12 and higher education...”

It speaks to the fear driven culture we have, and the lack of appreciation for education (parents and non-parents) and a lack of trust in our education system. I’ve seen debates in my area about the budget crisis and services, and I’m happy to see our high school is stepping up to drop “easier” classes and pushing "harder” ones.

I love sports, and I think they not only teach us something about life and ourselves, but they are important for our health. However they aren’t the end-all, be-all, and while I wish my kids played more sports, I don’t regret them being more academic oriented than sports oriented.

Apparenty LZ Granderson feels the same way as that quote above comes from his piece: Why I'm raising my son to be a nerd. It’s an interesting note that his son is athletic, and he likes that, but he has learned to praise the academic achievements more. He sees that as a culture, we have our priorities out of whack, and I think he’s spot on.

There’s nothing wrong with cheering for a sports team, but that shouldn’t prevent us from cheering for the kids that do well in school. We’ve grown from a blue collar economy built on manufacturing to a mostly white collar one built on knowledge, but the education system, and the cultural values haven’t caught up with that change.

As much as I like lots of the liberal changes in our schools, that have brought increased tolerance, less bullying, and more of a caring, sharing environment to our education system, we haven’t brought along the push to excellence, and we instead accept mediocrity all too often. We have removed some of the stigma of failure, but not replaced it with intolerance of laziness or a lack of effort. We celebrate participation, but don’t require effort. We reward superficiality in excess of it’s value, often because of a few dollars.

We’ve built a lottery mentality that is hurting ourselves, and it’s amazing how it’s sold from all sides. From sports to politics to education, we seem to all think we can be the winners on top of the pyramid, forgetting there’s only room for a few. And yet we somehow cheer on those few, sacrificing, and even encouraging behavior and policies that benefit those few, and not the majority, because we have been sold on the belief that any of us can be the few. That is a possibility, but far from a probability.

It’s not all bad.There are pockets of good ideas, and lots of people trying to make a difference, and make the world better. Culturally we need to come together, finding and embracing good ideas because they make the country a better place, not because they align with your political party, or keep someone employed, or because they fit in some loophole.

I faith that the US will survive and prosper, but I’m not sure if we will still lead the world, or if it will happen in my lifetime.

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