Ran across this interesting post yesterday. I think “Die Walz” could be one of the prescriptions for our economic woes.
I’ve always thought Sputnik was one of the greatest weapons in the arsenal of the old Soviet Union. I don’t mean in the conventional sense of kicking off the space race culminating in our landing on the moon. What Sputnik really allowed the Soviets to do is screw up our educational system for about 30 years!
I was one of the unfortunates impacted by the changes in our educational system as a result of the Cold War. I’m not sure younger folks who weren’t around in the 60’s-80’s really get a feel for the competitiveness and fear that dominated the Cold War era. But at any rate, there we all were in my elementary school – learning set theory, binary math (we didn’t have computers or know what they really were, but we could do binary math!), and getting science and math pounded into our heads. We needed to be the Uber-engineers and weapons scientists that were going to preserve the American way of life!
This attempt to mold everyone into miniature Dr. Strangelove’s screwed the learning experience up for a lot of us. I think it is why so many people of my generation feel like they never really had a chance to explore their real interests and are still feeling their way back to their “core”. I could have gone to school with the next Picasso or John James Audubon but instead of letting their natural abilities out, we were all doing the same boring “lab” experiments supervised by teachers who were as bored by the subject matter as most of us were.
Yet, even today, millions of dollars will get spent on STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education. And every dollar will be just as wasted. At least during the Cold War we had a tangible enemy in the Soviet Bloc. Now it is just kind of an unknown bogeyman related to economic development. We have the Geek Culture fear that somewhere, somehow, somebody is smarter than we are.
Don’t get me wrong…science and math are important. But like anything else, those that find it interesting will always rise to the top of technical areas. But the kid who was always drawing in his lab notebook and the girl who sat in the back of the class writing stories are probably not ever going to really have a need for matrix algebra and epsilon-delta proofs. Let them work out their own interests.
So here’s to the German carpenters, wandering around in their weird-looking outfits. Sounds like they are having more fun and will probably make more of a tangible contribution than many of us will.
May they never have to sit in a cubicle…….