Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Death of Knowledge

Here I thought I would only be posting once a week, but unfortunately, life happened, and I am struck dumb by things that I heard today.

As a culture, we value the intelligent, and yet we are loathe to put forth the effort that is needed to cultivate that intelligence. Learning a language, whether modern or ancient, is too time consuming. Watching a historical documentary is, sadly, only for the eccentric. The minute we clutch a degree to our breast, book knowledge is dead. We are no longer interested in pursuing our education, in bettering ourselves.

Simply astounding that a culture who desires to be the best in the world puts so little emphasis on education or, especially, continued learning. Compare our teachers' salaries to that of Japan where if you are a teacher, or sensei, you occupy a most important position in society, For you have the youth of the culture in your hands, and you are treated as such. Unfortunately, here, once you are finished with schooling, you are finished learning. During lunch, I make the habit of bringing a book to read. For the ten minutes that I am allotted, my world slips away into the written word. Three years ago I decided to teach myself Italian. Not a language offered in the standard U.S. classroom, it is a language that I feel passionate about, and one that I feel will help me as I travel multiple times through Italy, whether visiting il Colloseo, or pouring over works by Botticelli in the Uffizi. Yet, when asked what I am reading or studying, the fact that I am studying Italian causes a plethora of responses from my fellow workers.
"Are you taking a class?"
"Are you going to Italy?"
It's uncanny, but I swear I can hear crickets when I answer "no" to both questions. People are stumped. A few will ask, "Why not Spanish? It's more useful." True, but if it's something that I do not feel passionate about, I slog through it, not learning anything. Therefore I shall stick with my passion, and encourage others to stick with theirs.

Eventually I plan on studying Latin, something I was not fortunate to be able to take in school. "It's a dead language," I hear over and over. I wonder how these same people would react if I told them I started teaching myself Linear B today. An ancient Mycenaen script, I felt it would be useful to know. Why? Because I am driven to know more. Because I wish to visit Greece someday and wish to be the reader of the tablets, not to have them read to me. So, perhaps Linear B is not your passion, but perhaps you have always wanted to learn about Mongolian eating habits. Go learn, and learn now. Not everything you wish to learn has to be useful. Not everything you wish to learn has to be that of the majority. Above all, don't stop learning, and reach high. For me, I have chosen Linear B, and that seems as good as any of a place to start.


  1. Great article and many points rung true with me - even though not from a US background.

    Many times do I despair at the state of education in the UK: it's not the teachers, it's the damned targets they have to meet. Meeting targets means they force information into kids heads, not teach them how to learn and love learning new things. So, when formal education finishes it is all work and not many people do a job that stimulates the mind, just stresses it!



  2. Zac,

    Thanks for commenting! I heard a great broadcast the other day on NPR (our National Public Radio station). I cannot remember the scientist's name, but he was despairing that people thought the best way to teach children science was only to use books. He maintained that it didn't foster a child's curiosity about the world. His suggestion was to get a large bag of magnets, throw it in the room with his children and see what they do. As an adult, it sound positively more enjoyable!


  3. There are two primary civilization types: western and eastern. And they have contrary vectors of development, expance - outer (taking-over lands, resurces etc. , use it through) and inner (to set development vector inside, and develop own body as the house, universal house). Last civilazation doesn't progress through a time, because any individual already progresses indise their time-continuums and only need to find good vessel to which they can give gained knowlegde .... some kind of lineage tradition.

    this two types has its pluses and minuses. in case of second one you can't get out from it without all considered changed (negative or positive in accordance with types of view on experienced things and mind readiness), on many levels, from body structure to mind and lifestyle. In the end you become some kind of ANT in one big UNIVERSAL ANTHILL posessiong knowledge of understanding all personal experiences you can find in life (to understand all languages without learning it through your body-speach-mind exact knowing it). But it costs also much.

    first type also hath dead-end path within. you must gain allknowledge you can obtain throughout your life (taking from outer realities) and suppose to give it to your childs or youngers living being. in most cases impornance of transferred knowledge have no answers that can be applied in accordance with realities, today's lifestyles and your knowledge bacomes useless. western civilazation leaves many trash-stuff behind itself as time pass by. But, a big plus - this civilization of INDIVIDUALS.

    You can compare Indian civilazation (1.2 billions of people lives there) and any "western" civilization (in all Europe - 250 millions, in north America also - 250 millions) to see difference. Indian civilazation well simulates "western style" in outer way, but strictly follows their knowledge, which didb't changed much through civilization raises and falls. Indians can be viewed as Houses and for theirs all tourists, white people is a islands, from which their can gain resources for their own houses. They can learn language pattern with accordingly emotion responces on a deeper levels. For what? To simulate "western" reality in it's grasping to all things better. I don't know, if the term "simulacres" is common for you.

    Oh, after all my thoughts not so clear to explain the point. And my english is poor to think it and well expess my gradations of thoughts. So, exuse for this post.