You know what’s wrong with kids these days? They play their rap and roll music on my lawn*… and I never go out there and teach them about old Chicago Blues… because THEY SHOULD KNOW ABOUT IT DAGNABIT! It’s not my job to teach them! It’s my job to be annoyed that it wasn’t infused into their brains through their umbilical cord. I blame video games. And the MTV. And Ritalin. And flash dancing. And Heidi Montag for breaking up the Beatles.
But Cara here thinks that maybe, instead of ridiculing kids for not knowing what they’ve never been exposed to and therefore don’t know exists, we should expose them. And maybe even teach them.
I happen to personally be in the process of saving the world by forming my own foundation. It’s like the JREF, but with fewer gay men and more focused on vaginas. But if you’re a gay man, you should totally get involved with us. Come to our psychic fair fundraiser… and tell me how YOU want to save the world. I might even let you head up a committee and give you some funds to do it. Hell, do it even if you’re not gay. Because, forealz, the kids can’t teach themselves about things they don’t know matter.
So People Are Uninformed, Uncritical and Weâ€™re All Doomed Huh? FIX IT!
You know what pisses me off and makes me scared for the future of society all at the same time? Lack of research. Iâ€™m not talking about lack of funding for scientific research or college kids who do everything online; Iâ€™m talking about normal everyday people who form these SET IN STONE opinions based entirely on one sentence that they read/heard and their own faulty logic. Hereâ€™s the thing though, we can fix it.
This is pretty much how most of society works as far as I can tell: â€œBP caused an oil spill. Oil spills are bad. That gas station says BP, so people who buy gas at that gas station are bad.â€ If that person did even a tiny bit of research into the actual consequences of their boycott they would discover that BP, in fact, doesnâ€™t own that (or almost any) gas stations and gets no more money from it than a Shell or Conoco station, and all that they are doing by boycotting it is driving a small business-owner into the poor house. But boy are you making a useless statement about how you feel, so good for fucking you.
And not only do people make these snap judgments that are often wrong, but they refuse to change them even in the face of actual evidence. â€œHealth care reform will make our country into a socialist hell!â€ â€œBut Massachusetts passed health care reform and itâ€™s not a socialist hell. And now we have passed health care reform and your life is appreciably the same.â€ â€œLa la la la, Iâ€™m not listening!â€ It is beyond frustrating because these people vote! They have the power to change my life for the worse! Sometimes it makes me want to give up and be totally uninformed just so I donâ€™t have to think about it.
This is a problem. The only solution that I can think of is education. And not this â€œtest the shit out of kidsâ€ crap that weâ€™re doing now, but education that makes kids learn to THINK CRITICALLY and question things. Why donâ€™t we focus a little less on filling their heads with the information that we already think we know, and focus a lot more on teaching them how to find out the stuff that we DONâ€™T know yet?
What if each elementary and middle school taught philosophy and debate as part of its curriculum? What if to graduate you had to show that you could critically analyze an argument? That would help. We are so focused on controlling everything that kids learn, in fear that they will have opinions or beliefs that we donâ€™t like, that we arenâ€™t giving them the tools to CREATE things, ideas, theories and all of the other stuff that advances society and makes it better. We need to fix that!
So hereâ€™s my call to all of you awesome critical thinkers. Go fix it. If the schools wonâ€™t do it, we can. Band together with other people and start a philosophy, debate, or science club at an elementary or middle school. Find a sympathetic teacher who will agree to be the club sponsor. Put together a proposal and show how it wonâ€™t cost the school anything. Volunteer your time and talents to help kids grow into critical thinkers. And if you canâ€™t do that, then do something else. But focus on the kids. Itâ€™s like the tobacco companies say, youâ€™ve got to hook â€˜em while theyâ€™re young. Letâ€™s stop complaining about how Texas, America, and everywhere else is DOOMED and start fixing it.
PS â€“ when you do start fixing it, and come up with your plan, drop me an e-mail and tell me about it. Iâ€™m at cd [at symbol] caradearman [dot] com.
Cara Dearman is a lawyer and skeptic living in New York City. Though she doesnâ€™t have a formal scientific education, she reads science news and blogs voraciously and enthusiastically educates her friends on the latest in new technology and astronomy (to the point that they have started tuning her out when she starts a sentence with â€œYou know whatâ€™s amazing?â€). Cara blogs about living a life of curiosity and gratitude and is currently writing about her quest to simply her life down to whatâ€™s really important at www.lifeofcuriosity.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @thinkc.
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*Damn kids today and their rap and roll and giving me hope for the future (video submitted, with perfect timing, by Steve Ting):