And if I say that the greatest good of a man
is daily to converse about virtue,
and all that concerning which you hear me
examining myself and others, and that
the life which is unexamined is not worth living.
Plato in Socrates Apology.
After finishing reading a brilliant article, one of many that I frequently encounter randomly in prestigious magazines of diverse content, I ponder at the cleverness of certain individuals to make light of what really is going on, versus the abysmal state of education in our Nation, and the masses of uneducated fellow Americans, and not only those who barely accomplished a High-School education, but of those who having attended higher education remain at best mediocre, and at worst unable to tell the difference between objective news that inform without bias, and what I mean by bias is the slant that our general corporate media infuse the news, as to reflect an uniformity of consensus with the explicit purpose to subdue peoples minds in to conformity with agendas designed to control minds and behaviors, in to submission to particular interests not necessarily in the benefit of the general population, actually against their own well being, the same who support and blabber back the same slant in the news they docilely are fed, with disastrous end results to our lives, keeping society at the mercy of unscrupulous individuals whose only concern is to enrich themselves at the expense of the rest, who sheepishly follow lead never questioning where they are lead, and what price we all will have to pay for their folly.
So who, or what are the reasons for this sad state of affairs?
Obviously the reasons are many, Historical, political, social, etc. We can’t in this post make an exhausting analysis of every reason, we will concentrate on the education factor.
There has been a long decline in education towards the abandonment of a classical education, to the utilitarian, and philistine approach for “practicality” and the teaching of a professional education, were basically the skills to make a living are emphasized over the teaching of critical thinking like that provided by classical education.
The curricula and pedagogy of classical education was first developed during the Middle Ages by Martianus Capella, and systematized during the Renaissance by Petrus Ramus. Capella’s original goal was to provide a systematic, memorable framework to teach all human knowledge. The term “classical education” has been used in Western culture for several centuries, with each era modifying the definition and adding its own selection of topics. By the end of the 18th century, in addition to the trivium and quadrivium of the Middle Ages, the definition of a classical education embraced study of literature, poetry, drama, philosophy, history, art, and languages. In the 20th and 21st centuries it is used to refer to a broad-based study of the liberal arts and sciences, as opposed to a practical or pre-professional program. The University of Pennsylvania seal (1894) depicted the trivium as a stack of books providing the foundation for a quadrivium of mathematics, natural philosophy (empirical science), astronomy, and theology.
The Eschaton of Belief
We have reach the Eschaton (end of days) of our beliefs, what I mean it is a sort of end of the beliefs that propelled us as a civilization, particularly what we call Western civilization, some call this a Post-Modern state of affairs, the end of belief in progress, Industrialism, corporatism, commercialism, scientism, institutionalism, Socialism, Capitalism, and so many other words ending on ism!
Nietzsche famous proclamation: “God is death.” Now also old, and passé can be analogized by the thought that our Western Ideals are death… Our ideals only have carried us to a death end of history, we are jaded, and cynicism are embraced almost by all, eternally lied by our politicians, misguided by our Religious leaders, robed, and impoverished by those who supposed to protect our money, our bankers, the media pimps for selling us products we do not need, and sold to those who wish to keep us obedient, peaceful and blind consumers of goods and iniquity, our scientist a clog of our materialistic, pragmatic, and utilitarian end on itself (profit) technology who inundates our world with an infinitude of junk, weapons, oblivious of environmental destruction, we feel like prey to the wolves who profit from our economical, and moral dispossession, a sad, and apparently death end with no solution in sight but our destruction, it is not a miracle than we wake day, after day feeling anxious, impotent, afraid and insecure?
How education can extricate out of this quagmire, when the very institutions of higher education is part of the problem?
Suzy Lee Weiss a senior at Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh.:
“Like me, millions of high-school seniors with sour grapes are asking themselves this week how they failed to get into the colleges of their dreams. It’s simple: For years, they—we—were lied to.
Colleges tell you, “Just be yourself.” That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms. Then by all means, be yourself! If you work at a local pizza shop and are the slowest person on the cross-country team, consider taking your business elsewhere.
What could I have done differently over the past years?
For starters, had I known two years ago what I know now, I would have gladly worn a headdress to school. Show me to any closet, and I would’ve happily come out of it. “Diversity!” I offer about as much diversity as a saltine cracker. If it were up to me, I would’ve been any of the diversities: Navajo, Pacific Islander, anything. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, I salute you and your 1/32 Cherokee heritage.
I also probably should have started a fake charity. Providing veterinary services for homeless people’s pets. Collecting donations for the underprivileged chimpanzees of the Congo. Raising awareness for Chapped-Lips-in-the-Winter Syndrome. Fun-runs, dance-a-thons, bake sales—as long as you’re using someone else’s misfortunes to try to propel yourself into the Ivy League, you’re golden.
Having a tiger mom helps, too. As the youngest of four daughters, I noticed long ago that my parents gave up on parenting me. It has been great in certain ways: Instead of “Be home by 11,” it’s “Don’t wake us up when you come through the door, we’re trying to sleep.” But my parents also left me with a dearth of hobbies that make admissions committees salivate. I’ve never sat down at a piano, never plucked a violin. Karate lasted about a week and the swim team didn’t last past the first lap. Why couldn’t Amy Chua have adopted me as one of her cubs?
Then there was summer camp. I should’ve done what I knew was best—go to Africa, scoop up some suffering child, take a few pictures, and write my essays about how spending that afternoon with Kinto changed my life. Because everyone knows that if you don’t have anything difficult going on in your own life, you should just hop on a plane so you’re able to talk about what other people have to deal with.
Or at least hop to an internship. Get a precocious-sounding title to put on your resume. “Assistant Director of Mail Services.” “Chairwoman of Coffee Logistics.” I could have been a gopher in the office of someone I was related to. Work experience!
To those kids who by age 14 got their doctorate, cured a disease, or discovered a guilt-free brownie recipe: My parents make me watch your “60 Minutes” segments, and they’ve clipped your newspaper articles for me to read before bed. You make us mere mortals look bad. (Also, I am desperately jealous and willing to pay a lot to learn your secrets.)
To those claiming that I am bitter—you bet I am! An underachieving selfish teenager making excuses for her own failures? That too! To those of you disgusted by this, shocked that I take for granted the wonderful gifts I have been afforded, I sayshhhh—”The Real Housewives” is on.”
Education as a Business
You may smile, be indignant, or blame Suzy, and their parents, but the fact is higher education has become a business to make money out of the students, caring little what happen after! Here an excerpt from Charles M. Blow A Dangerous ‘New Normal’ in College Debt, The New York Times, March 9, 2013:
“The student loan debt crisis has become a drag on the economy. Younger Americans who are saddled with bankrupting payments — or credit ratings damaged by delinquency — are in no position to buy homes, save for retirement or start businesses.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently released a study showing just why many young people are being strangled by student loans. It found that 43 percent of 25-year-olds had student debt in 2012, an increase from 27 percent in 2004.
Unemployment and the collapse of household income in the recession only made the borrowing problem worse.
According to the new study, student debt almost tripled between 2004 and 2012, and is approaching $1 trillion, while the percentage of borrowers who were more than 90 days delinquent had risen to 17 percent, from 10 percent in 2004. In addition, student loan debt was the only kind of household debt that continued to rise through the Great Recession, and it is now the second largest after mortgage debt.”
Numb To Bullshit
Here an excerpt from the middle finger project, by Ash:
We’re numb to bullshit.
We eat bullshit for lunch.
We smear it all over our faces and then dutifully smile for society’s camera.
Yet, even though it surrounds us and we’re practically choking on the stuff, we somehow still manage to swallow and look the other way.
We’ve convinced ourselves that surrendering to bullshit is necessary in order to get ahead (the ever popular default goal–also bullshit), and we prance around in bullshit all day because we’re too chicken to do anything about it.
Bullshit runs our lives.
Almost. Every. Waking. Minute. Of. It.
And we let it.
Bullshit is the politics that drive decision-making processes instead of what’s best for our citizens, consumers, elderly and children.
Bullshit are the values that we’ve been spoon fed since day one, encouraging us to idolize all that is superficial, and shove the rest under the rug. We get high off of purchasing big ticket items, and as soon as the high comes, it goes, leaving us with nothing more than the angst to do it again. We’re akin to nation of crack addicts, always looking for our next high…except ours comes in the form of consumerism.We disregard the value of people. Of relationships. Of human beings and authentic, genuine interactions. These things are all of secondary importance, because we’re taught that we’re only as good as the car we drive. (By the way, if you really want to see someone fighting against the consumerist movement, check out my friend Everett. You’ll be amazed & will want to throw your TV off the roof, as he says.)
Bullshit are the federal agencies, such as the USDA, who have marketed themselves nicely as a watchdog agency looking out for our safety, but in fact, the USDA is nothing more than another big business.
Bullshit is the way we can justify engaging in war over oil, yet sit back and do virtually nothing about.
What it comes down to, in the end, is the mighty dollar. We’re so desperate for it, that all bets are off when it comes to ethics. And I find that unacceptable.
But most of us will continue to ignore the bullshit; we’ll just keep climbing to the top of it, and then maybe eventually hope that some suit and tie corporate manager will let us have a slice of the pie someday. And then it’ll be even easier to swallow & turn our heads, once we’re making the big bucks.
Because after all, isn’t that all that matters these days?
A CRISIS OF VALUES, AND THE WAY OUT OF THE QUAGMIRE
The fact is that contemporary education is totally off the mark, it is because instead of educate our young, on Ideals, and higher aspirations, education has become a tool for our money obsess society in order to produce tangible value, in the form of material gains, with the feeble excuse of “progress, and well being” to make every individual a cog of the machinery, and a mammon worshiper, forgetting totally the Galilee advice: ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE’ Mathew 4:4 And this not a Religious statement the kind it is trying you to go and joint a particular church or cult, we know you probably are too cynic for that, I just want to point out the root of the problem is a crisis of values, we can’t expect to teach practical, utilitarian and money oriented goals in to our young, to the exclusion of anything else and expect a generation of people of virtue when we teach greed, selfishness, and crass materialism devoid of spiritual values!
You may argue that the study of Ethics is enough, it is many years I took a class on Ethics, and remember very little, but the fact that to my young mind it was boring!
Nevertheless, a sense of idealism, and the pursuing of Virtue was instilled in me by the study of the Humanities, particularly Philosophy, now days a career on Humanities is perceived by most as a waste of your time, and good luck of ever finding a job!
Who said everything should be about money?
One of the greatest myths of our time is that public services including Education can be made more efficient if we run them as businesses. The commercialization of our public services has been a manifest failure, and the response offered by the mainstream parties is that we simply haven’t commercialized them enough. What they fail to understand is that a public service as Education, and a business are inherently different beasts, and asking one to behave as the other is like asking your two year old child to pay for food, and lodging, nonsense!
The primary aim of Education is to educate the people, and can’t put enough emphasis on this, this service of education exists to avoid negative social impacts, creating a future better society and protect the individual, as much as society in general, with a crucial social welfare from the instabilities of capitalism.
The unsustainability of Capitalism going awry
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.
~Mohandas K. Gandhi.
Here in brief a paper showing that greed could be acquired just by studying Economics by:
Wang, Long; Northwestern University
Murnighan, J. Keith; Northwestern University
Greed is a classic topic in human development (Balot, 2001; Robertson, 2001) and it inevitably affects many of our choices and decisions. Although greed is typically viewed as uniformly negative and reprehensible, we propose that people‟s attitudes and opinions about greed are actually subject to change. In particular, studying economics may help legitimize and even beautify greed. Previous research shows that economics education might make people more self-interested because self-interest maximization is central to most economic models (Marwell & Ames, 1981; Frank, et al, 1993). Because greed and maximizing self-interest are sometimes difficult to separate, conceptually or empirically, we propose that studying economics may make people view greed as potentially positive and beneficial. Two complementary studies support our proposition. Study 1 shows that students who are pursuing economics view greed more positively than students who are pursuing other majors and taking other courses. Study 2 indicates that positively priming greed can significantly increase people‟s positive attitudes and opinions about greed.
Greed and Economics Greed is a basic element of human nature (e.g. Plato, Aristotle & Thucydides). Defined as “an excessive desire to get more … a primarily materialistic type of desire” (Balot, 2001: 1), greed is generally viewed as reprehensible (Wang and Murnighan, 2008). Greed stimulates rather than sates, creating a vicious cycle of extravagant, insatiable desire to procure. At the same time, paradoxically, it may have been an essential element in our evolutionary ancestor‟s survival. In addition, the basic logic of capitalistic economics, to maximize one‟s outcomes, makes it difficult to clearly delineate basic self-interest from overindulgent greed. Thus, greed is a two-edged sword: on the one hand, it can help drive economic growth (Hume, 1739/2001; Smith); on the other, it encourages immorality and societal injustice (Plato). Wall Street encourages organizations to maximize their profits: as profits increase, so do stock prices, impressing analysts and leading to more positive recommendations. Although CEO salaries are not directly related to organizational profitability (e.g. Tosi & Gomez-Mejia, 1989), employees‟ returns on their profit-sharing plans are. Thus, in the corporate world, the push for more is pervasive, traditional, and taken-for-granted.
The economics literature takes the same stance: it has long portrayed homo economicus as a rational choice profit maximizer. The assumption of self-interest, which inherently implies the desire to achieve and/or maximize material gains and to minimize losses, is central to most economic models (Frank, et al, 1993). The notion of maximizing gains does not include a stopping mechanism: the accumulation of economic gains need see no end. Instead, rational choice implies unlimited wants and unrelenting greedy action (Schwartz, 1986). A purely economic approach to greed pays little attention to ethical issues, values, or human motivations
(Stigler, 1980; Sen, 1987). Economics encourages greed and the maximization of self-interest, with guile, as long as a person‟s actions fall within the rules of the game (Friedman, 1962). The current study investigates the relationship between economics and greed. We investigate how people view greed, and we study whether students who are pursuing economics view greed differently from students who are pursuing other majors and taking other courses. Though not conclusive, previous research suggests that studying economics might encourage the pursuit of self-interest and inhibit cooperation (Marwell & Ames, 1981; Frank, et al, 1993). Because economic models draw – at best – a fine line between self-interest and greed, we predict that studying economics will lead people to have more positive views of greed and, as a result, might make them more likely to engage in greedy action. Thus, our investigation assesses not only the selection effects of individuals who have chosen to be economics majors but also whether taking more economics courses leads people to view greed as being potentially positive and beneficial and see their own greedy actions as more favorable than others might see them. We conducted two studies to test this proposition; the results indicate that studying economics significantly increased people‟s positive opinions and feelings about greed. This suggests that greed is not only evolutionary inherited, but also socially and educationally espoused.”
Greed is bad after all
Negative Priming: Greed can get out of control. “If you have an unregulated arena, cheaters win,” says Michael Josephson, a radio commentator and president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics in Marina del Rey, Calif. “But if you have a civil society, which we do, with a series of checks and balances, by all means the honest people can win. … Honesty and integrity is the way to conduct business.” This is echoed by Paul Krugman, a notable economist. “Now, as each day seems to bring a new business scandal, we can see …. a system that lavishly rewards executives for success tempts those executives, who control much of the information available to outsiders, to fabricate the appearance of success. Aggressive accounting, fictitious transactions that inflate sales, whatever it takes.” Ken Lay, Gary Winnick, Chuck Watson, Dennis Kozlowski — we’re not talking about a few bad apples. . Statistics for the last five years show a dramatic divergence between the profits companies reported to investors and other measures of profit growth; this is clear evidence that many, perhaps most, large companies were fudging their numbers. “Now, distrust of corporations threatens our still-tentative economic recovery; it turns out greed is bad, after all.”
Hardly a surprising conclusion, after all Virtue is not only a word, or an idealistic thought, but words like Justice, Goodness, Wisdom, Peace, Truth, are virtues, and are the axis of which every life should be lived, to avert ruin, and catastrophe, not only in our personal lives, but that of society as well. Should not Virtue then be thought, with emphasis at our schools, rather than selfishness, and greed?