Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Natural Curiousity

Either here, or at comments sections on others' blogs, I've mentioned that I've hired two young men, recently.

Twenty-three and twenty-one years of age, these two young men come to me with certain challenges; taking what is worthwhile of what they've been taught, and discarding that which they have been taught that has no value. It is not totally surprising that these young men have limited skills. It is not surprising to me at all, that they lack the ability to respond quickly to intellectual puzzles presented. They weren't taught this, they weren't asked to do this. After six weeks, I'm beginning to make in-roads into their tiny, little minds.

The title of this post is "Natural Curiosity." There is a reason why I preamble with those words. Who teaches, and what they teach, are important. We've been told for decades that teachers are underpaid. Schools are under-appreciated. Our children are being denied excellence due to a certain penury. Unless we open our wallets and checkbooks, our children will suffer under a pogrom of anti-intellectualism and selfishness. That is, our unwillingness to pay teachers the salaries that our "Leaders of Industry" receive, we will continue to employ teachers whose sense of value is so low, that they are not capable of teaching well. They will babysit. They will not teach, and even if they attempt to teach, their skills are so low, that what they attempt to teach is not worthy of the little peaches of our eyes.

Hooey is not a new word.

Having had to pitch, and have been pitched upon, hooey, one begins to learn about the nature and substance of hooey.

Discernment is a particular word.

1: the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure : skill in discerning
2: an act of perceiving or discerning something (Here.)

How does a bird fly? What can improve the flight of an arrow?

How do you discern, or perhaps, discriminate between certain ideas that attempt to express how birds fly, or how one could improve the flight of an arrow? 

This is not an unintended digression; it is the point of this post.

When I rely upon the writings of my dead old guys, I do so knowing that I don't have to go over ground already covered. The problem is, that dead old guys aren't being taught anymore. Teachers aren't required to know anything about my dead old guys. There is no test that teacher must needs undergo to pronounce them able, or capable, of teaching, other than have passed the necessary curriculum needed to gain ones teaching degree. And, after the reception of such degree, is there ever again a day or reckoning. Teaching, as a dead-ended job, is the prefect place to put people with delusions of intelligence, without them having to ever produce a single form, or example, of intelligence.

How did we end up in this condition?

Teachers' unions. 

Teachers' unions have nothing at all "in their best interests" that ally themselves with the best interests of your children. They are, antithetical. Your teachers. Your young, innocent, blithely ignorant, young children are being put into the hands of selfish, disinterested thugs. Has child abuse increased against children from teachers? A few priests, and the outraged attempt to sue the Vatican into poverty. Yet, how many child-abuse suits have been aimed against Teachers' Unions?

But this indictment against teachers is, again, not the purpose of this post. Are teachers bullies? Yes. Are teachers selfish and lazy? Yes. Are teachers abusive? Definitely. Are all teacher bullies,selfish and lazy, and/or abusive? No.

But the standard of some, or at least one, teacher being neither a bully, selfish, lazy, or abusive would hardly be a standard adopted by any parent/teacher association for any local school that exists. That is to say, rhetorically, that if only one out of twenty-five teachers is neither a bully, selfish, lazy or abusive, that that is the type of statistical significance that a school district would need to achieve in  order to justify its hiring practises, that, the suggestion that those hiring practises might be set too low should, in my world, suggest that that district's hiring practises be reviewed, and thence abandoned. 

What is the impact of teachers who are bullies, selfish, lazy and abusive?

Briefly, how do you predicate bullying, selfishness, laziness and abusiveness?

My teacher bullies me. My teacher is selfish. My teacher is lazy. My teacher is abusive.

How many of these predicates must be experienced by students, over years, before their apprehension of teaching is reduced to these simple predicates? And, I would submit, the effect of these predicates is more difficult for males, than for females. Sure, to my own benefit, over the years. The "guy" bullshit meter is differently tuned than the "gal" bullshit meter. Men and women are different. The goals of a woman are different from the goals of a man. Anyone who disagrees is probably homosexual. (Is this a form of Godwin?)

I believe that conformance is a more feminine trait, than is individualism. Individualism is a male characteristic. Not that conformance or individualism is a necessary trait of either being a female or male. But let us ask the natural question; if conformance is a female characteristic, and individualism is a male characteristic, how does the curriculum of our schools search for maximizing the performance of either females or males?

I have these two, young men I'm training. And what I'm finding is a certain reluctance to act independently of direction. I've had some great direction given me, from time to time. But I haven't had to re-make myself to be worthy of direction. I have a sense of curiosity that has led me to attempt to do that which I hadn't been trained, in order to achieve results that exceeded the results that were sufficient for my success. When you're young and hungry, simply being as good as anyone else had never been my goal. Which is why I hated working those union jobs during my college days. I always did more than sufficient. I attempted to achieve that which was asked. 

Natural curiosity is a human characteristic. Just like the sins of avarice, lust, gluttony, envy, et.al., are human characteristics. Being a female with the characteristics of a female isn't a "sin" of being female. Being curious as a male isn't a "sin" of being male. But the characteristics of being either female or male end up being confronted by an organized workforce, with aims that tend to protect that workforce, from issues ranging from bullying, selfishness, laziness and abusiveness.

Never, do you hear of a child's natural curiosity. You do hear of how a child's natural curiosity creates an up-roar; questioning homosexuality, questioning the orthodoxy of global warming, questioning the value of socialism. Advocating for gun ownership. Simply owning a gun. 
How are any of these ideas simply, wrong? 

When the prism of decision is given to a group whose aims are more about self-preservation, than the good of our children. Check your children's curriculum. How often is "liberty" given the weight that it deserves? How more often is the word "equality" used? Liberty and equality are different concepts. (Being equal before the law is not the same idea as one being equal to another. And a law that enforces one of these, is not the same as a law the enforces the other of these.)

Natural curiosity is a wonderful thing. Are you "worth" more than me for an hour's worth of work? Am I worth an hour's worth of your work, at the same wage? Do we do different types of work? Are you due the same wage I'm able to command, when I'm doing my work, or, are you due the same wage I command, doing your work? And, if you're doing my work, at my value, does it mean a thing if you're a male or female? 

Can a woman do my work? Yes. I think about Dixie a lot. 

Dixie was one of those women that you never thought of as either a man or woman; she was a power unto herself. You dug listening to her. You wanted to please her. Today, I honor her by teaching my young proteges in a manner that I think she would want. But she never wanted to improve me; she relied upon my wanting to improve myself. The more I demonstrated that I understood her, the more questions she would take the time to answer. And here's the thing; I never met Dixie. 

She worked for a rep agency that represented the company I worked for. But I learned more from her about the company I repped, than I learned from the company I repped. (That I ended up running that company is a different subject.)

You never lie. You never make up. If you don't know, you don't know. And you tell the people who you work with the truth. Family comes first, friends come second. Work comes third. Never any doubts, you work to achieve something, and hopefully, you find a place through work that allows you to combine all these things. Men and women can work together, successfully. The differences between men and women should be honored, not excoriated. Attempting to ignore, or ridicule, our differences is the path to denying the truths of our lives. 

When young men, boys, really, find themselves confronted by the machine that is the Teachers' Labor Union, they are on their way to escape. First, most of the values of the teachers' union aren't the values that any sane person would want to adopt. And yet, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, we subject our young to the insane expectations of a union that wants more for its members than for its client class. 
Secondly, by the time boys reach the age of maturity, let's say the age of thirteen, the natural state of human nature is being developed; these are the survival skills embedded by years of natural selection. You don't take a tiger, raised from birth, into a gaggle of school children without restraint, simply because that tiger has been culturally modified by years of human contact. 
From Wm. Blake:

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? 

Nature lends itself to a natural curiosity. Not a natural conformity. Things have to make sense to the underlying framework of human nature. We see tears, when others see absolutely nothing. But that's different, isn't it, from failing to see tears when no tears exist? You can have your sight of tears imposed upon you, but really, if there are not tears, at what point do you leave the discussion?

Stories are important. Stories that convey meaning are more important. Being curious is one way of telling a story, in fact, most good stories are based upon being curious, than the other way around. Stories that expunge the value of doubt or question are simply didactic. Most of the stories that I am presented with, are didacticisms. Rhetorically, one of those arguments that one would find reading Hylas and Philonious.

As much as argumentation attempts to advance itself, we're always thrown back onto previous argumentation, a certain ontology recapitulates phylogeny. Boys are boys, and girls are girls. Boys play with mechanics. Girls play with dolls. Not that either is unimportant, but when you attempt to reduce the natural role that curiousity plays with boys, in deference to the doll-playing conducted by girls, at a certain point you need to see that boys don't really play dolls, they do things. They make things that work. They do things that do things. Without regard for how the thing being done, feels. Our improvement is not in how we feel about how we do things, but in how we do things better.

I am making inroads with these two young men.

I'm overcoming decades of teaching that asks us not to ask direct questions, nor to ask what it is that motivates one. These questions could lead us to find out horrible things; such as success, cunning, caring, learning, insight, success, differentiation, experimentation, risk, gambling, intuitiveness, and the simplest of these, learning how to successfully serve others at a cost.

The best of a generation, Generation X, has been lost. We've produced a generation of slackers and losers. I've hired two. I will make them learn. I will impose myself, and my view of the world, upon them.

And I will make them successful.

Because I honor their sense of curiosity.

1 comment:

T. D. said...

The teachers I know personally are upstanding people who are constantly being pestered by administration goals that frustrate rather than facilitate students learning how to think and to become good at the basic educational tools.

They are constantly having to shield their educational and moral values from the prying eye and stomping foot of administrators.

Could it be that most teachers are good, but are expending much of their energy shielding themselves from counterproductive directives (not to mention counterproductive course content they have to teach)?

Most of my friends are older teachers, so I don't have a handle on the young crop.