Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Creativity and Tribes

A few years ago I was sitting in a coffee shop watching three guys at a table, all with laptops. They were all friends, all tormenting each other as guys do, and all were computer experts.

I have been interested in play and creativity for a long time, and have decided there is rarely that "lone genius" who advances society. Mostly it's a group/friend effort, although that group may be two or three people.

I have also been interested in various "enlightenments" for quite a while, especially the Scottish Enlightenment, which happened when Scotland was tiny and didn't have much population. Now how the heck did such a tiny population produce so many polymaths?

A few conclusions: there has to be a group of smart guys who get together (a lot of time they do it in taverns) who can discuss and discover what they want, and there has to be an atmosphere in which intellectual achievement is admired and encouraged.

Now where is that in the U.S.? No where, for the most part. Now we've got kids sitting in ranks and rows in public schools, taught by incompetent female teachers who put order and quiet above achievement. And we've got PC, which is leftist, which is female.

Even as a teen I thought the smart and creative should be identified as children, removed from environments which they always hate and sent to live with their own kind. And to be mentored by the adults of their own kind. And to see them as models. And they would be mirrors for the young, too.

A mirror, as I have written before, is when you see what the other person thinks of you, how they treat you. If you have smart and creative kids, who mostly daydream and ignore school, what is going to be mirrored back to them?

A lot of the more incompetent teachers seem to think the smart and educated are slow! And they mirror that back to them.

I've met several smart people who were told by teachers they were slow - dumb. The reality is that they were bored, daydreamed all the time, and didn't do their work.

I once wrote an article, "How Science Fiction Saved Me From Hell - I Mean Middle School" and here are some posts I culled from various forums:

"The 'teacher' actually degraded me during class for reading Steinbeck during Right to Read Week, the one week of the year they 'let' us read our own books in class. She told me to get a 'nice Romance novel'."

"I would check out books and when the librarian would see what I'd selected she'd say, that's way over your head, or for older kids. One time after being told this three times in the space of about five minutes I told her to let me decide what I wanted to read.

"I was given an IQ test in grade 9 and scored 128. Not particularly high, but when some of my teachers found out they were dumbstruck, they thought because I didn't participate in class or do my work that I was Special Ed.

"I routinely scored in the top 3% in the nation on achievement tests and once when I'd scored higher than the 'smartest kid in school' on one of the tests she had a fit in front of our entire class and told me in front of everyone that there had to be a mistake because I was 'stupid'."

"We had weekly trips to the library, I would do the same thing when I was a kid, and would get chastised about it in front of the whole class. I was so miserable in school after that, I felt like I was being held back."

"I got so bored, I used to correct the teacher in my History classes...

"I used to just read something [Science fiction or Fantasy] in most of my classes, since there wasn't much point in me paying attention apart from in Maths, where there was actually something I needed to learn."

"I had the same history teacher in high school two years in a row, and I was correcting him constantly. Especially about the Korean War and Vietnam.

"His lesson plan didn't change the second year either."

Things have gotten so bad with the public schools I see no alternative to closing them down. And it's the reason I'm such a great believer in home-schooling.

That is, if we want to save your kid.


Glen Filthie said...

My only beef with any of that, Uncle Bob, is that the teachers take on too much guilt. Sure, they are pooch screwing union slobs for the most part, and aren't fit to shine shoes in a whore house...but the parents are ultimately responsible for their kids - and they aren't stepping up.
And women are the problem there too. Do you have kids? Ever been to a PTA meeting? The estrogen levels are TOXIC. It's mostly mothers, shrieking about how the entire education system has to change to accommodate their kid. If yours gets shafted as a result...well, that is just fine by them. So too if the majority of the kids get shafted - they don't care.
We need the strap in schools. We need teachers that will maintain rigor and discipline in the class rooms. Kids need homework, deadlines, tests, and punishments for when they fail. Most of that is anathema to today's mothers and for many pussified and faggotified men too.
Very interesting times are ahead.

rkshanny said...

"We need the strap in schools". Yup, to be used on the flakes who call themselves 'teachers'!
I remember in 3rd grade, my crone of a 'teacher' wrote the word 'island', along with other spelling words, on the blackboard. Yours truly pointed out that there was an error in the word . . . an 's' that did not seem appropriate. Instead of being rewarded for 'astuteness', I was chastised for 'calling out' the neurotic crone. What a pathetic, self-absorbed excuse for a 'teacher'.

JKB said...

Your insight into the small group is supported by the observation of others. Paul Graham has written that most successful start ups are a small group of friends, lone wolfs are rare. Also he did a nice essay on the culture of cities that promoted developments. Not impossible but it was hard to develop the auto outside Detroit because in the early 20th century that was where most of those working on the problem were at. The mingling, even at the pub, led to information and insight transfers. It is also why Silicon Valley has such a leg up.

Also, Alan MacFarlane has described the impact of the English civic clubs and associations on the development of the modern world. Most of those were invitation membership which kept the discussions from degrading (and yes, had problems as well).

JKB said...

Glen Filthie,

Keep in mind, we all suffer from some level of the induced "school helplessness"*. Parents and teachers are victims of the same system. In the last 40 years, alternative educational experiences have become rarer.

The conditioning is to leave "education" to the professionals. Teachers and schools say they want parent and community involvement, but proffer a differing opinion on how to help kids learn then watch the backlash.

*"In spite of the fact that schools exist for the sake of education, there is many a school whose pupils show a peculiar "school helplessness"; that is, they are capable of less initiative in connection with their school tasks than they commonly exhibit in the accomplishment of other tasks. "
- How to Study and Teaching How to Study (1909) by F. M. McMurry, Professor of Elementary Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

Kent McManigal said...

I had the same dreary teachers, and some who flipped out when I pointed out that they were wrong, but I also had a few bright spots.

I had one teacher who would be fired today. He taught us how to think, not what to think. And his methods were very anti-authority in a lot of cases. He taught the whole class about critical thinking and especially applied it to advertising and politics.

The librarians knew me and pretended not to see me when I'd skip boring classes to read in the library. They also got books they thought I might like- and they were always right.

I also had some teachers who saw through the bored daydreamer I was in class.

So, yeah, there are some good ones in that horrible system. I'd still prefer to see "public" schools abolished completely, since education is much too important to allow government anywhere near it.

Anonymous said...

"I had one teacher who would be fired today. He taught us how to think, not what to think."

The best, most beloved teacher in my high school was always, always in trouble with the administration. His students loved him almost without exception (in spite of his ruthlessly strict grading), his classes routinely scored top marks on advanced placement tests, and he was unfailingly generous with his time and energy outside of class. The bureaucrats, though, apparently had nothing better to do than discipline him every few months for being too interesting. In the two semesters I had his class, he must have been formally reprimanded at least three or four times, always for something incredibly trivial, and probably violated (stupid) official policies five other times without getting caught (and those are just the ones I witnessed personally).

I also remember the absolute worst teacher I ever had in high school, who used to hand out worksheets with no explanation whatsoever and spend the rest of class at his desk, ignoring us. A few years later, someone told me he had been promoted to Vice Principal. That's the school system in a nutshell.