Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Respect for Knowledge(?)

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While mentally preparing some ideas for this blog, I did a Google search for "respect for knowledge". Amazingly, the second item on the list referred to an  "(e)xcerpt from a talk with two leading comrades of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China" from 1977 (see complete item here). I know that Google's rankings change over time, but that they allegedly do give us some measure, however imperfect, of what the web-literate masses value.  But for the 2nd on the list to refer to a 35 year old discussion between two Chinese politicos? Doesn't anyone talk about "respect for knowledge" in our current American culture?

Maybe we don't talk about it. After all, the FIRST item up in my Google search was a link to a document (click here) that stated "(t)here is simply no respect or admiration for intelligence or knowledge. Bill Gates is often held up as an example of someone who is RICH and didn't even go to college!...as if the American Dream includes making huge sums of money with little or no effort."  I think Bill Gates is smart enough to realize that the key to his own success was luck. I believe he has even said so in interviews.

My thoughts for this blog began when I read yet another article about  the University of Florida re-signing its coach to a one year extension to an original 5 year contract that had been worth $13.75 million (see this). I then did a search for data on the University of Florida's general salary structure. I found a spreadsheet with information from 2008 (see this). Admittedly, it is not current, but it is from early in the football coach's contract.  It isn't pretty, if you are hoping to see that intelligence and education and knowledge are valued as much as football.

After this it hit me that our culture, through its media and through its politics, has clearly demonstrated that it just doesn't care about "being smart" or "getting smart".  Just estimate how much time your local TV stations dedicate to activities of the brain vs sports. 

The debates here in New York State about teacher evaluations and Tier VI give more evidence: there is more concern about being cheap than about being good.

I have finally realized that unless and until our society as a whole begins to value and respect knowledge and education and intelligence (and not just give it lip service) we will continue to lag economically, culturally, spiritually, and physically.

Over time I will have to rework and clarify my thoughts, but I have to start somewhere, so here it is.

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