Friday, May 05, 2006

The Flaw in the Ointment

The most damaging lesson of the present education methodology is to make learning as difficult, complicated, onerous and traumatic as possible -- rather than to make it easy, effortless and the natural function of living. Instead, people are taught to compete unrelentingly against one another -- to despise another’s success and to feel deeply ashamed of one’s own failings, and all that other baggage that should have no place in the joy of learning and discovery. Educated in that manner -- of torments, humiliations, embarrassments, constant harassments and judgments, it is no wonder why there is aversion to learning, rather than the joy of it every day.

To further complicate matters, there are applications, enrollments, fees, tuitions and credits before one is allowed to learn the most treasured gems of knowledge, diligently maintained by a priesthood of lifetime job security for the intellectual virgins who never challenge the cherished order and traditions of the few thinking for the many -- as God intended. Of course, that was how it was in the medieval universities whose traditions must be passed down to every succeeding generation -- unmodified, unquestioned, lest the gods be angered.

True knowledge and wisdom means banishment from the heavenly gardens forever -- from a vengeful, petty, unforgiving God. And thus He ordered that life must be a veil of tears -- and those who seek the easy way, tempt eternal hellfire and damnation. Thus the road to Heaven, must be paved with many thorns, trials, tribulations and deceptions, or mankind will not know it as the true and noble path, and will slide down the easy path of perdition and ignorance.

So there is this “intellectual” tradition of making that which is simple and easy, hard and complicated. And that was the path of civilization and society until a few heretics wondered, “What if we made everything easy instead of hard?” Civilization and society has not been the same since. Now, one doesn’t need a Ph.D. to operate a computer. One can prepare gourmet meals with a touch of a button. And exercise (conditioning), rather than being hard, is knowing how to make every effort easy.

Do we see a pattern emerging? Increasing benefits-to-cost is good; increasing costs-to-benefits is bad. Not being aware that there’s a difference between those equations, is the confusion and dysfunction of one’s life. That is the simple mathematics one must master early on, and then when there is an urgent need to learn anything else, it can be learned just as easily and quickly -- not requiring a BS or MS first as proof that one is deserving, and has duly “paid their dues.”

It is a whole new world entirely -- co-existent with the old. The new is a world of “can-do,” while the old resides in the world prohibiting and prohibitive to most things -- and "can-do," is the licensed exception rather than the norm of life for most who merely realize they have that option. At the present time, there are those torn between that old world and the new -- mainly by their own thoughts, education, indoctrinations, conditioning, that that is the only way things can be -- and they can learn no other.


At May 05, 2006 6:23 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Before there was the computer paradigm of data processing, people thought that multitasking was doing several things at once badly, inattentively, haphazardly -- and so more often than not, “shit just happened,” or so it seemed. One had a difficult time telling one thing from another, clearly and decisively. So when they slowed down the process to direct the computer to solve a problem of any complexity, what the computer did was simply make a distinction of one or the other -- and did that as many times as was needed, and as fast as it possibly could. But it always did one simple thing at a time.

And that’s what it takes to be successful at achieving any objective and solve any problem -- to do one thing at a time, well, even slowly at first. With repetition, speed comes naturally. But there is no substitute for doing the simplest thing precisely. One could call that focus.

I think that is very important to learn sometime in life but the older one gets, the more -- not less, it is important to master, because I think that is the key to achieving and maintaining full faculties as long as one lives. It’s never been considered a science, or even an art, but obviously, it is a necessity.

It’s a problem not only of the old which renders them helpless at the most challenging time of their lives, but is really not taught as the essential information processing skill beyond the various division of subjects into endless fragmented, mutually exclusive specialties. Rather than education being for the young, it is more important for the old to have it -- and actually share that experience with the young, to the mutual benefit of both.

Otherwise, the productive society must become self-destructive to maintain its sense of meaning and purpose -- which we already see happening. People are having surgeries for no other reason than that they can. People are seeking thrills and taking unnecessary risks for the exhilaration of doing something out of the ordinary -- looking busy. People are burning calories, so they can continue to overconsume more.

Those things regarded as the problems, are in fact, the solutions. But are we listening?

At May 07, 2006 12:53 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Of course medical professionals don’t like it when you treat/cure yourself -- demanding that exclusive right of control over everybody else. In this, they are not unlike every other self-interested (professional trade association), whose highest cause is their own profitability and self-advancement. With insurance in the picture, the real cost is taken out of the picture.

But one of the things about information and its deliberate specialization, compartmentalization, and fragmentation, is that it is open to those who can make those connections. The critical piece that leads to a logical conclusion is missing, withheld, not forthcoming. Instead, the “professional” inserts themselves in where there would be a logical next step -- which the consumer is forbidden from entertaining. It’s a business strategy built upon co-dependency -- so that the more one avails themselves of that “help,” the weaker one becomes -- like an addiction to anything else. It’s obvious with the drugs but less obvious in the dependence on “experts,” and ultimately, on bureaucrats. Those are people who serve no actual function but one has to obtain their stamp of approval to do anything -- or at least they want you to think so. Such people might demand to see one’s certificate in creating writing as a proof of competency in creative writing.

That sounds absurdly preposterous, but a lot of people don’t think they are “well” unless they’re diagnosed as such, or “unwell,” for that matter. If somebody says there’s nothing wrong, then there is nothing wrong -- despite the fact that one may be in constant pain, torment and discomfort. It is what the expert says it is. Such people are also susceptible to manipulation -- from con-artists obviously but not so obviously, by all those who enjoy the control and manipulation of others.

In that way, there are a lot of people doing everything the fitness experts tell them they should be -- committing as much time and energy to such matters as they’ve been instructed to, yet they are not in the shape/condition they want to be in -- and instead, think the only way to achieve that condition/shape, is by surgical intervention. It’s because their exercise/conditioning practices, are totally ineffective -- despite putting in long hours and large sums of money at it, as prescribed by their “professional, certified” advisors.

It doesn’t seem to occur to such people that there can be anything else -- because a great part of that advice is that there is no other. Those are the people who can be persuaded that that which is not true is true and that which is true is too good to be true, and should not be believed. That is the culture of conventional wisdom -- in which things are true because the authoritarian personalities says it is so. Some cultures have more of these authoritarian tendencies than others. Those are the prescientific societies that depend on hierarchies of authority -- rather than verifiable, self-evident truth. In fact, the great commandment of such dogmas, is that one should never attempt to do one’s own thinking for themselves -- but must rely submissively on the “proper” authorities.

The most obvious and visible of such demagogues are of course the newspaper editors and columnists -- who would have us believe, are the smartest, most honest people in the world. No wonder the future always looks so bleak -- and there is absolutely no hope for humanity -- but only doom and gloom as far as they can see.

At May 07, 2006 7:39 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

In the real world, one is a teacher or not -- and certifications can’t make one if they aren’t authentic teachers. And that is why so many so-called teachers have so much problems “teaching” anybody. Their audience recognizes they have nothing to teach -- and have only learned to seem like they know something.

In the world of athletes and the most competent of any activity, they’re not little for minimal competency but for the ultimate competency -- which they think they can recognize. Some people are creative leaders -- while most are only labeled so but it makes a real difference to those who can discern those differences.

With the mass media approach to information, there is usually no such appreciation for real knowing and the shallowest appearance of it. In fact, the least able are most likely to be recognized by the reporter because that is also their level of knowing. Creative people recognize creative people; formidable people recognize formidable people; mediocrities recognize other mediocrities. What they are recognizing in each other is the similar level of confidence.

Those who are creative pioneers in their own field, will more readily recognize a creative pioneer in any other field -- more readily than the mediocre person can recognize genius even in his own field. The definitive literary treatise was the two novels of Ayn Rand -- The Fountainhead and atlas Shrugged, both despised by the mediocrities of the world.

And so it is that the most intelligent works are shunned -- by the mass media/culture celebrating mediocrity as its highest attainment -- the ideal. It is not that they are anti-elitists, but they seek to make the value structure something other than merit -- that which is arbitrary, like age, skin color or seniority, something which a person can do nothing about. “Merit” is made the ultimate crime against humanity -- and beyond that, the ability to make those distinctions -- that really matter. It is all to seem arbitrary -- awaiting the next directive from above -- to direct one’s thinking to what is right. That is not for every individual to determine for themselves and be the ultimate master of his own sensibilities and intelligence. Those things must be determined for him.

And that’s why the notion of political correctness is such a “red flag,” because it is this ready acquiescence to whatever group of experts and professionals have determined that they should be the authority on these matters. In that way, a democratic society devolves into an oligarchic one -- of the few who make these decisions for everyone else because they “know better.” Undoubtedly society was heading down this slippery path to utter confusion and incompetence -- except for the saving grace of machines.

So rather than machines taking over as was feared in the literature of the last hundred years, the machines actually saved mankind -- and that’s why they, science and technology, had to portrayed as ominous evils in the science fiction. Because the science fact was that machines would liberate us -- in the manner that has been characteristic up to now -- by relieving us of the burden and shackles of memory, habit and tradition (knowledge) that frees us to consider and discover the unknown, which is the true work of intelligence, and not merely repeating the known as though nothing further was possible.


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