August 28, 2008

Everything Is Coming Up Elitism!

Fellow Elitist Bastards!

Has it only been a month since my last post for the Carnival of Elitist Bastards? How time does fly. Elitism has been flourishing, mateys! Its even proving the progress in race relations in our country. Everywhere I poke around on the web these days, I find fellow elitists! From Merlin Mann at 43folders: "Embrace the disingenuous charge of elitism (or, as I prefer to call it, maturity) by not pretending that everyone is equally 'special' to you. Remind the people who matter to you that you’re always available for them, then tell them how to do that, including specific instructions (n.b. this is important for relatives who think the internet is just eBay, urban myths, and Joel Osteen). Get a friends-only email address. Get a friends-only GrandCentral number. Do whatever it takes to provide a backchannel for your super-secret network."

Thanks Merlin! (And what elitists your parents must have been to give you such a funny name!)

The election, of course, is elitist central. We have an old white millionaire who doesn't know how many houses he owns and a Harvard-educated smoothie duking it out. Roger Cohen from the NYT has some more on this: Obama's from Main St., Ain't He? Even Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer gets into the elitist act on this subject. (He's probably just trying to catch up with PZ, though.) Bastard.

But it's education I'm interested in, being an elitist teacher and all. Jane Artabasy at the Teaching Excellence Network agrees: "Teachers are inherently a skeptical lot, not a natural base for the Kool-Aid culture of 21st century electioneering, with its cynical, smarmy manipulation of language. As a start, how about the most recent 'word du jour:' elitism? Only an intellectually bankrupt political system would dare to twist such a perfectly good noun into a pejorative, a negative, a mortal stigma. Webster’s defines elite as 'the choice or most carefully selected part of a group...' Sounds to me like the perfect baseline description of a president."

Thank you! She links to this post by a teacher of gifted students who tells us why gifted students hate school:

"Here it is, in brief: Gifted students hate school because school is a sucking quagmire of mediocrity."

and continues with:

"Okay, I know this hardly qualifies as an original thought, but perhaps my personal experiences can enlighten the issue a little bit: the mediocrity begins in society, but it seems to be concentrated, like B.O. in a cabbie’s upholstery, in schools of education."

But she sees teachers a bit differently than Ms. Artabasy: "The influential 1983 report A Nation at Risk, whose findings have not substantially changed since its publication, found that too many teachers are 'drawn from the bottom quarter of graduating high school and college students.' Those same students become teachers, so rather than your kids or my kids being taught by the best and brightest (or at least the solidly competent), they’re being taught in too many cases by people who essentially weren’t very good at school." Yes, she says, there are indeed smart, skeptical, inspiring teachers (like Ms. Artabasy), but unfortunately they can tend to be the exception and not the rule. What to do about this?

See you in a month. I'm sure the election mania will be at a fever pitch. Keep using your critical thinking faculties, my fellow elitist bastards, and perhaps we can begin working on turning the tide of this ingrained mediocrity. I'm open to suggestions. (I know, not very bastardly of me, but we need to start somewhere.)