Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Does Gov. Haslam Want Dumb Workers or An Educated Society?

In recent days our esteemed Governor Bill Haslam has been holding meetings with folks from a wide range of business and university officials to talk about education with a particular goal in mind - that higher education must work harder to train people for jobs.

"Tennessee does not have enough qualified workers with specific skills, a high work ethic and critical thinking abilities, local business leaders told Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday.

College and university leaders, meanwhile, said they need more resources to adequately educate and graduate more students to fill those jobs.

"We're trying to have those conversations around the state to make certain we're providing positions that will train people for the jobs that are there today."

And while I certainly agree our state and community needs critical thinking skills, I read no mention of just what "specific skills" are being cited here, other than mentions of welding and engineering. And we certainly need to discuss and debate the role and the enormous impact which education has on our world at nearly every level.

The optimist in me wants to believe the driving forces for these Haslam-led meetings will lead to a better understanding of what the functions higher education should serve.

The pessimist, however, sees a day when higher education is either about technical services or football and other sports.

Reading the comments to the KNS story (often a grueling descent into nonsense) I noted the following one:

"We don't need any more fluff degrees.
No more philosophy, theatre, arts, sculpting, dead languages, mythology, psychology, library science, interpretive dance, music, music history, Greek literature, roman literature, American literature type degrees.
I could go on but why the state continues to fund universities that pump out not only worthless degrees but degrees that put their constituents into crushing debt with no real hope of finding a decent job in their field is beyond me.
If someone wants to get a degree in one of these areas its fine but why encourage it by offering scholarships to it?
China does it right. Scholarships and state funding only in areas that produce jobs in fields of study."

What kind of world will we have should we remove knowledge of history, science, the arts, language, libraries, music, literature, etc etc. Is emulating the nation of China our best option?

Is the sole purpose of attaining a college degree merely to obtain a high-paid job? Is there no value left in education if it does not lead to a giant paycheck?

Once we eliminate the areas of study the commenter suggests - critical thinking skills will likewise vanish. Absent ethics, philosophy, communication skills, understanding of history, the ability to express ourselves and our thoughts about our world, ignoring the past or ridiculing those who excel in all these areas - what kind of world would we have?

Humans are not meant to simply serve a machine of industry ... are they? 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tennessee Senate Wants To Ban Teaching Gravity

(NOTE:  Satire follows below ... at least I hope it is satire.)

Speaking from outside the Tennessee State Capitol building in Nashville, Weinger said the bill would protect teachers who chose to criticize gravity and other scientific theories in their classrooms.

“The aim of all education is to teach students to think for themselves and we plan to do this by allowing children to be indoctrinated with whatever loosely founded views their teachers may hold.”

He added “there is strong evidence in the Bible that the Law of Gravity is a fallacy. For example, Hebrew 1:3 explicitly states that Christ upholds all things by the word of his power – seems like a pretty solid argument to me”.

“If you compare this against what’s currently taught – that matter ‘emits gravitational waves’ which ‘effect the curvature of the space time continuum’…well gravity starts to look pretty unlikely doesn’t it? I’m pretty sure most of those aren’t even real words. Unlike Christ’s.”

Ms. Jenny Fuller, an elementary school teacher from Gatlinburg TN who has been campaigning against the inclusion of gravity in the school curriculum for several years, said she was “delighted” with the outcome.

“I have long felt uncomfortable teaching gra…gra….this theory” she said. “It is clearly a dangerous idea to teach our children – Newton ‘discovered’ gravity by an apple falling on his head, Adam and Eve fell from the Garden of Eden for eating one. Then Newton calls gravity an ‘attractive force between all objects’ – such a mentality is clearly a gateway for temptation and sexual promiscuity”.

More here, and for those who need even more assistance:
SATIRE:  Noun: 1. The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices.

Monday, July 30, 2012

I Return to Blogging via A Wee Stroll Across The Internet

It was quite flattering to be called out by Mr. Silence for my absence over  the past month - it is good to be missed. So thank you.

It has certainly been a busy summer of news, grievous idiocy, botched governmental and social tomfoolery and more as the nation ponders presidential elections and witnesses the near witless fumbles of the old-fashioned media folks assigned to collect and share the national news.

A few random observations for you -

-- Here in my humble community - as in many others - I cringed when I saw the middle-school level of headlines and reporting following, for instance, the horrible massacre in Colorado at a showing of the newest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises"  -- the headline?

My local paper had a picture of the theater where the events took place with a two-word headline: "Dark Night" -- had such a headline been presented in a freshman newspaper class, it would have gotten an F grade and a note that said "Tacky and Shameful". Sadly, so many other newspapers and newscasters said the same thing. Mass murders and tasteless witty puns do not go together. Yeesh.

-- A congressional race in Middle Tennessee over the seat held by Diane Black has become nothing more than A Battle of Millionaires, and they spend more time all Chicken-Little fashion wailing that Sharia Law and Mosques are taking over the state like giant swarms of man-eating kudzu monsters. Again, shame, shame. Multi-millionaires do not give a diddley-squat about improving the state or national economies.

-- A  research scientist in Stockholm was jealous when he assumed his wife kissed another man, so he cut off her lip and ate it. He told  the press: "I got the idea spontaneously. I thought, 'I'll get rid of it. I'm a man of science, I have a very high IQ. I have the ability to solve problems in a second'."

--  On a more positive note- a professional hula hooper performs for the crowd on how to hula hoop, pour a glass of wine and drink it while hooping - God bless the Internet -