Every day, I encounter a new challenge to the idea that things can and should be open and real.

Be it social, political, or personal, serious or trivial -- every time, I ponder the implications.

I hope you'll join me in the conversation!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Skinny Branchin' It Again

So I just found out Glenn Beck didn't go to college. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh also apparently didn't graduate from college. This explains a lot.

I don't think one has to graduate from college or even attend college to be an intelligent, productive person. It's not that. It's the tendency of these people -- in fact usually the smart ones who might have been accomplished in higher education --to be so reactionary and intolerant and eager to pick a fight over, well, nothing.

I had lunch with two of my smartest friends yesterday, and their analysis of this was rapid and made a lot of sense to me. They talked about how the environment of respectful debate grounded in arguments that were expected to be based on research held to the highest standard shapes a person. How spending at least 4 years in a culture that trains you to only have serious arguments in this realm trains you not to take things personally, to stay focused on ideas, and to understand the problems of philosophy and false argument (the straw man, the slippery slope, etc.).

The dudes listed above are well known for being among the worst offenders when it comes to making everything personal, attacking people and not examining ideas, and gloating and profiting off of pitting people against each other instead of trying to solve problems. I honestly try not to pay any attention to them. They are like clowns to me, but beligerant, ignorant clowns, and who needs that? Some folks have outright phobias against that kind of clown, and for good reason.

Eventually, it does seem they out themselves for what they are. Beck recently ranted and raved against the government collecting taxes from the people, then puffed himself up and crowed that he taught himself that, "in the library!" Um, hello. Do you understand how libraries are funded? Apparently not. They teach you that in college.

My precious home state of West Virginia has 17% of its population with a 4 year degree. I don't care if you have a college degree because I think it's a status symbol. I care because I need you to have one. I need you to be part of a world where you understand ideas, and can hear criticism without going off the deep end frothing at the mouth. There's a lot of criticism that we need to hear in West Virginia (and our personal lives) so we can climb out of a heapin' mess of hurt and trouble.

I'm worried that across the board we don't have the training to hear important ideas and act on them before it's too late. I'd like to reexamine this line of thinking that says "college isn't for everyone." I think it should be.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8078381@N03/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Connie said...

It doesn't take a college degree to understand those things. I took great pride when my son's middle school teacher told me that in all of her years, my son was the only student she'd ever had that could truly think critically. The degree gives you terms to describe your thought processes (straw man, etc.) - the process is independent and can well be achieved in junior high with appropriate training. With all the various "intelligences" - I'm a believer in gut reactions, but I suspect that Hannity and Limbagh's "guts" are dependent on ratings and not subconsious reactions. I'm babbling, aren't I? Blame it on cheap champagne. :)

The EDG said...

Connie, I hope was clear that I agree with you in concept. I tried to spell that out up front. But I strongly suspect that your son achieved is critical thinking skills at such a young age because of your influence.

The modeling and practice has to come from somewhere. Without the opportunity to break away from a local or family situation that does NOT support this kind of development, people are unlikely to get there.

Thank you for your comment. I'm a fan of in vino veritas!!