June 26, 2008

Proud Elite

I hope you've read this essay by the Susan Jacoby. In it she clarifies the difference between two words Americans seem to think are interchangeable:
"'Elite' and 'elitist' do not, in a dictionary sense, mean the same thing. An elitist is someone who does believe in government by an elite few — an anti-democratic philosophy that has nothing to do with elite achievement. But the terms have become so conflated that Americans have come to consider both elite and elitist synonyms for snobbish."

Well I'm proud to be a supporter of the elite, including Susan Jacoby for her elite achievements in publishing, most recently with The Age of American Unreason. It is an attack on the anti-intellectualism we're seeing today in our country. This book is on my to-read stack, but what with starting my continuing and elite graduate work, it may take me some time to get to it.

I'm not promoting snobbery here, just the fight against anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism. I have been doing my part as a teacher and will continue to do my part as a school librarian. It's our job to promote the critical thinking our students will need.

These are desperate times. Teachers who promote anti-science. Hell, Governors who promote anti-science. It's gotten to the point where debates aren't really even debates anymore. It's hard to have a debate with someone who doesn't even have a common set of facts or understand the basics of logic and rationality and critical thinking.

Sometimes I have hope. The students I teach are so full of questions and curiosity I know there is a chance. But I have them young. It's when they're in middle school and high school that things seem to go bad. We all need to do our part.

When I read this on the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards home page, I knew I had to contribute:

"Do you read science tomes for pleasure? Avoid Survivor in favor of Nova? "

That is so me. Call me a nerd but the nerds are the ones ruling the world right now. From Steve Jobs to Bill Gates, all the best stuff is coming from the nerds, the elite, the smart people in our society.

That's why I'm a Nerdfighter. (Check out this video! At least we can raise the level of insults.)

That's why I've proudly added the Carnival of Elitist Bastards badge to this blog.

We, as educators, can turn this tide if we work together.