What if your daughter were about to start kindergarten and you went to the affluent school where she was about to go and discovered that the school was teaching nonsense? That’s exactly what happened to an education consultant in Colorado who recently visited his daughter’s new school. Everybody was nice, but when the kindergarten teacher talked about their methods of teaching reading, he cringed. She was using “progressive” methods that were debunked decades ago. He’s learning that most schools use similar techniques that don’t work, simply because schools of education are committed to ideas and techniques based on ideology instead of cognitive science. So why do so many people entrust their children’s future to these well-meaning but incompetent people? It’s one of the most underreported scandals of modern learning. Read his summary of what he’s found here and then check out the radio documentary to which he refers where you can find out more.
I really enjoy political satire. You might remember that my first short film was political satire. But there’s a trend in political satire today which I find disturbing — and this graphic is a great example. This fake promotional ad for Fox News was placed on New York City subways recently. When I found it on social media, people who lean to the political left were smirking and enjoying this attack on their “stupid” opponents. But this isn’t satire. It’s just a mean-spirited attempt to say, “Those who agree with me are smarter than you idiots who watch Fox News.” It’s a smirking, nasty attack which makes no point other than to claim superiority over people for the sin of disagreeing. I absolutely loathe Fox News, but I also loathe CNN and MSNBC and all the other media outfits who pander to partisans and intentionally try to divide people. If you want to show that you’re a small-minded bigot who doesn’t understand his opponents, just pretend your enemies are all stupid and evil. They’re not. The truth is a lot more complicated. Ideas are ripe for satire, but that involves creative thinking, not just nasty personal attacks.
When I have a bad day, my first reaction is to want to turn to someone I love. But my next instinct is a paradox. If I can’t call someone and I can’t touch someone and I can’t be with someone who loves me, I have an overwhelming desire to be alone. Tuesday was an unpleasant day. I had to argue with my bank about something. (I won, but still.) Something happened at work that made me want to walk out and never return, although I understand that nobody else involved would understand. Tonight, someone on Facebook who I barely knew reacted badly to something I said — for reasons I’m completely baffled about — and called me a “jackass” and unfriended me. I’d like to talk with someone I love. I’d like to spend time with a loved one and feel safe and understood. But since I can’t do that, I crave the opposite. I want to find a cabin somewhere and disappear for a month. We humans are social creatures. We need each other. But there are days when others cause enough hurt that a few weeks of silence would be a relief. This has been one of those days.