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Reader comment on Eric Vogt, Juanita Brown, David Isaacs's passage ...

Questioning Our Questions


On May 7, 2007 Conrad wrote:

I wrote the following as a guest column three days ago for the BGSU student newspaper. It has not yet been printed. It may be too long, but it does apply . Viral you have my gratitude.Conrad Specialization Can Make You a Slave There is an old and infrequently considered history of education related by Buckminster Fuller which demonstrates how the elite of the military-industrial-governmental complex keep many of us in the dark. When we are in the dark we can be more easily manipulated without being aware of it. Fuller relates how the Great Pirates would establish a land-based home and make someone the Governor. The great pirate would ask that Governor to tell him when a smart young man is noticed. The great pirate would take the young man and ask him to study a specialty such as accounting, finance, navigation, shipbuilding, or some other important skill of the day. The Pirates would tell the young man to only study that specialty because the great pirate would be the only one who will be a comprehensive thinker who dealt with all fields of thought. These specialists were paid reasonably well but they always took orders from the Great Pirate. They were not independent comprehensive thinkers as the Great Pirate was. Specialization that began with the Great Pirates continues in schools and universities and often does not follow what the great philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, said about learning. Whitehead said there first should be an adventure stage where the student is turned on and becomes inquisitive about finding out more about a field. The second stage would be a precision stage where the student learns much. The third stage and one that is often dismissed by teachers and professors is the generalization stage where one attempts to make connections ( arrive at open big open ideas) not only within a field of knowledge but also between fields of knowledge. Schooling and university training concentrates mainly on the second stage, the specialization stage and as a result, students and former students -- most of us, are often in the dark and rely excessively on other people's thinking rather than deciding for ourselves. Thomas Jefferson held that a major purpose of schooling was to provide conditions whereby each student would decide for oneself what will secure or endanger one’s freedom. Today we are not frequently concerned with openness amd our freedom. Thhe kind of government that conservative government's wish to place in other areas (often the Mid-East) seems now to be overly involved with secrecy and manipulation. An oligarchy now seems to decide much of what our country is doing in Iraq. One way of judging the power of our schools and universities is noting who we choose to be our leaders. What grade would you now give our schools and universities for the leadership we now have at the federal level? If the grade were quite low, can you notice that Whitehead’s adventure and generalization stages have been neglected so that many of us remain in the dark and are easily manipulated by the elite. Beyond these general conceptualizations is more openness to the unknown and even openness to the unknowable.



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