Posted by Joseph Knippenberg
After a particularly depressing bout of end-of-semester grading, I was, er. "inspired" to write this piece.
Ivan the K had related thoughts a couple of months ago.
A lot of good ideas in there. I would add that the chaotic nature of facebook is also seen across the spectrum of mass media from foxnews and the thousand ideas coming at you at once to any internet site with adds and links galore. This sort of thing has sublimal research behind it so it can be/is utalized in a sinister way. I laughed at the guy who commented on the site. He suggested that mass education is needed by the economy and keeps people from being uneducated office workers. Now they are uneducated office workers with 40k in student loans and four years of promiscuity, drinking, and a nice framed paper on the wall. As if someone needs educated to say "corporate accounting...just a moment" The point on the economy is good though. Mass education is biggggg business. So few industries are doing well right now, I think the college industrial complex has to be the top industry in this country and its not a stretch to say its got to that point by offering an excellent product. Poeple pay 80k to in their lifetime and the colleges collect upfront with the taxpayers helping out.
Merry Christmas Joe and thanks for the plug!
Don't fret ... Twitter will fix it all. It came along at precisely the moment we needed yet another source of instant update on things.
I say, no, we see no new challenge. I am inspired to this same complaint while grading student papers. Thought is hard work and maybe too much to ask of the young. At the community college, often my best, most interesting students are older and their experience drives them to thought.
As to the young ones, I comfort myself, remembering transferring from a state college to Columbia University for my last two undergraduate years and finding intense disappointment with the quality of my fellow students. Somehow, I had thought I was entering some superior society of intellectuals and a higher level of higher education. I wasn't. My fellow students were only very occasionally remarkable or even interesting, sadly nearly to the same degree as those fellows I had left behind. Honestly, in my years at CU, I even had a only a few remarkable professors. That, as opposed to the couple of them at my other university, actually made the extra effort and expense of a college a continent away from home worthwhile. Back then, the technology blamed for short-circuiting student thought was TV and TV alone. Although, I recall one ancient professor who insisted the typewriter was the end of well-written thought. Writing and rewriting papers by hand was the only way to think through the ideas.
Why do we expect the young to have interesting thought, anyway? Depth seems a lot to ask of the young. I figure I should be happy when I see some semblance of it and delight to reward it.
When friends write me letters I respond with letters to that are pages long and require extra postage. Often, I do not get replies. I think I ought to stick to messagey-type letters and then I might get proper epistolary rewards. I write the same way in emails (even in Facebook or MySpace messages. The Wall has space limitations that messages do not. ) and have a couple of correspondents (some aged under thirty years, too,) who also take time and thought in writing. Such things are not dead. People still need to work out ideas and having someone who cares enough to respond is a blessing to whom you must respond in kind. That people will write rather than phone is a positive aspect to the Internet and to human communication.
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