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/ Ignorance and Education /

People Magazine interviews author Ray Bradbury

People Magazine: What do you see now for the future?

Bradbury: A completely moronic nation unless we do something about education.
Unless we do that, the civilization is lost.


"... in Huxley's vision (Brave New World), no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity, and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one."

Amusing Ourselves to Death : Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
by Neil Postman
page vii
Very highly recommended!
(And see also Postman's great comments on television.)

"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people....
The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men."

John Adams, Dissertation on the Canon and Federal Law
Quoted here.

There is nothing more frightening than ignorance in action.

Attributed to Goethe
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
page 418
(Or perhaps, "The rabble fears nothing more than intelligence.
But it is stupidity they should fear, if only they understood how fearful it is."
Quoted here)

"Is it not almost a self-evident axiom, that the State should require and compel the education,
up to a certain standard, of every human being who is born its citizen?"

On Liberty by J.S. Mill
-- I confess that my initial impulse is to agree with this proposition,
though my Liberal scruples immediately repudiate it.

. . . .

"Universities, even modern universities, are not in the business of maintaining security over information.
On the contrary, universities, as institutions, pre-date the "information economy" by many centuries and are not-for-profit cultural entities, whose reason for existence (purportedly) is to discover truth, codify it through techniques of scholarship, and then teach it. Universities are meant to pass the torch of civilization, not just download data into student skulls, and the values of the academic community are strongly at odds with those of all would-be information empires. Teachers at all levels, from kindergarten up, have proven to be shameless and persistent software and data pirates. Universities do not merely "leak information" but vigorously broadcast free thought."

The Digital Underground, from
The Hacker Crackdown : Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier
by Bruce Sterling
"Literary Freeware: Not for Commercial Use"
(or here, or here)

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog,
conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone,
comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations,
analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.

Specialization is for insects."

Robert Heinlein

"Autarky or self-sufficiency was the human ideal. It is useful to compare it to the Greek ideal of arete or all-around excellence. Odysseus, for example, exhibited arete: he could build a ship, sail it, command men, flay and roast an ox, shoot a bow, wield a spear, throw a discus, and be moved to tears by a song. He was not a specialist, but a complete man who was equal to any occasion: that is the essence of arete."

The Cynics by Tom Price

"That man (or woman), I think, has had a liberal education who has been so trained in youth that his body is the ready servant of his will, and does with ease and pleasure all the work that, as a mechanism, it is capable of; whose intellect is a clear, cold logic engine, with all its parts of equal strength and in smooth working order; ready, like a steam engine, to be turned to any kind of work, and spin the gossamers as well as forge the anchors of the mind; whose mind is stored with a knowledge of the great and fundamental truths of Nature and of the laws of her operations; one who, no stunted ascetic, is full of life and fire, but whose passions are trained to come to heel by a vigorous will, the servant of a tender conscience; who has learned to love all beauty, whether of Nature or of art, to hate all vileness, and to respect others as himself."

Thomas Huxley
Aphorisms and Reflections, Reflection #89
selected by Henrietta A. Huxley
pub. 1907
Here, here, here

"My critique of democracy begins and ends with this point.
Kids must be educated to disrespect authority or else democracy is a farce."

Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture
by Abbie Hoffman,
Norman Mailer (Introduction), Johanna Lawrenson (Afterword)
page 63

"California, our largest state, is almost at a point where it is spending more on prisons
than it does on higher education -- a fair working definition of a dead civilization."

"Look to the Children of the Poor in This Season of Budget-Slashing"
by Molly Ivins
Fort Worth Star-Telegram , 24 Dec 1995
included in the book You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You

"Would you like to swing on a star, carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are
Or would you rather be a mule?

A mule is an animal with long funny ears, He kicks up at anything he hears
His back is brawny and his brain is weak, He's just plain stupid with a stubborn streak

And by the way, if you hate to go to school
You may grow up to be a mule

. . .

And all the monkeys aren't in a zoo, every day you meet quite a few
So you see it's all up to you

You can be better than you are
You could be swinging on a star"

"Swingin on a Star".
Written by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen
quoted here

"Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education."

Essays on Education by Alfred Whitney (Griswold)
quoted here

"An extraterrestrial being, newly arrived on Earth -- scrutinizing what we mainly present to our children in television, radio, movies, newspapers, magazines, the comics, and many books -- might easily conclude that we are intent on teaching them murder, rape, cruelty, superstition, credulity, and consumerism. We keep at it, and through constant repitition many of them finally get it. What kind of society could we create if, instead, we drummed into them science and a sense of hope?"

The Demon-Haunted World : Science As a Candle in the Dark
by Carl Sagan, page 39

Highly recommended!

"Only the educated are free."

quoted here

I think I'd have to argue that both for each individual and for society as a whole, a good education (or educational system) is the single most cost-effective investment of resources -- i.e., if we do nothing else to insure the well-being of our children, we should at least do this.

(Also: I am not a Christian, but it seems to me that attending a Jesuit-run school is likely to result in an education conspicuously better than the average.

Update: Spun off a separate page on / The Jesuit Education /)

"(Sir Isaac) Newton singlehandedly contributed more to the development of science than any other individual in history. He surpassed all the gains brought about by the great scientific minds of antiquity, producing a scheme of the universe which was more consistent, elegant, and intuitive than any proposed before."

"His mother intended Newton to become a farmer ..."

And how many other mothers and fathers succeeded, I wonder ...

/ Ignorance and Education (Page 2) /

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