Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Camille Paglia, provocateur.

I am 100% in line with her on this.
    High school (which has become just a frantic, callow rat race for brand-name college admission) is not an eternal principle of the universe. It was invented relatively recently -- a point solidly made by Jon Savage in his interesting new book, "Teenage" (which I reviewed last weekend in the New York Times Book Review). Age segregation by grade, in my opinion, is a mechanistic atrocity that spawns ruthless social cliques, who oppress and enrage the losers in the provincial pecking order.

    As I have argued for years, we desperately need a return to vocational training. The virtually universal conversion of American high schools to a pre-college track over the past half-century has watered down the curriculum to its present deadening uselessness. Lower-middle-class and working-class families who pay taxes have a right to expect that primary schools will prepare their children for a productive life.

    My platform calls for a revalorization of the trades (which are related by craftsmanship to the art schools where I have taught for most of my career). Upper-middle-class families should be ready to support their children's unorthodox choice for a career in carpentry, masonry or landscaping.
Having seen three children through the process, one idea I've been left with is that we're forcing too many kids into college who would rather be elsewhere, engaged in other kinds of learning. Everyone needs a skill, a saleable trade; not everyone needs a B.A. And as Paglia says, "our present educational system is an insane pressure cooker, dangerous above all for boys, with their restless physical energy." We need look no further than the current lunatic trend of ADD-labeling and overmedication for proof of that.

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