Education in America

My younger daughter may be going over to the US for high school. I am looking forward to seeing her older sister attend university in the US, but am wary about the prospects for the one going into 10th grade. This article in the Atlantic is one reason why I worry. It shows how local control is causing the US to fall behind. Here in Japan every teacher follows a very specific national curriculum so they are all teaching the same concept, the same equation, the same event in history in the same week. This may seem crazy to you, but it works here. There is a very high literacy rate with a writing system that is 100 times as hard as English. It works. Find out why the locally-run system in the US doesn’t.

A good quote from the article:

“In the first place, God made idiots,” Mark Twain once wrote. “This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.”

And kudos to The Atlantic for opening up their archives to all. I’m sure it will lead to increased revenue from increased traffic.

Love on Campus

William Deresiewicz writes a stupendous article, Love on Campus, for the American Scholar in the style of a literary critic about how English professors are portrayed in the movies these days; weak, philandering, selfish, pompous, self-pitying.  He goes on to stipulate how wrong this is, and that in reality, intellectual intercourse is a goal of the university, and since WW2 a number of social and cultural trends have made this kind of “brain sex” more and more illusory or taboo.

The article borders on the absurd at times, with thick prose (I had to look up the word demotic), and used the words luftmensch and parvenu in the same sentence. But his logic is impressive and he reaches a surprising conclusion; that lust, or eros, has its place on campus. Between your ears, and not your legs.