Home > Education > Educational Contraband

Educational Contraband

April 26, 2008

Dana over at En Tequila Es Verdad picked up on something I said in the post about ‘A little thrill in learning’ and took off in a whole different, wonderful direction with it: Educational Contraband.  Go check it out, then think back to your favorite teachers: were they smugglers, most of them?  When you were with them, did you have the feeling you were being let in on a secret?

Categories: Education
  1. April 27, 2008 at 08:22 | #1

    Love it!  I wish I’d had that cartoon when I was putting that post together.

    You’ve made my day!

  2. April 27, 2008 at 08:28 | #2

    Thank you George ‘Educational Contraband’ was an interesting read and I now need to think about what I want to learn next.

  3. Ted
    April 28, 2008 at 10:57 | #3

    My sixth grade teacher bucked the party line by telling us how incredible Germany was. … he shared a little bit of truth with us: it was incredible that a little country like Germany managed to almost conquer the world, not once, but twice.<blockquote>

    Twice? When was that?

    <blockquote>…He waxed poetic in his admiration. On that day, we learned that turn-of-the-century Germany wasn’t a caricature, but a country full of brilliant people who, admittedly, had done some fucked-up things.

    So brilliant people can be f*cked up? My suggestion is that we should stop worshiping brilliant people as if they were universally flawless, or as if their lives and decisions were the only ones that mattered.

    Even the non-exceptional among us have the right to exist in our plodding, non-exceptional lives. I understand that we’re viewed as a burden by our betters, but that’s the view we get by our lack of education.

    He was the first person I’d ever heard who didn’t treat Germany as a pariah, but as an admirable foe. It made the whole thing much more exciting. Defeating a despicable enemy’s one thing, but defeating an enemy that’s a despicable genius, well, that’s awesome. That means you had to work for it, and I think all of us were a lot more proud of America.

    Well, huzzah. I think that some of that admirability belongs to the boys and girls of Stalingrad. The US had to hussle up and invade Europe before the Russkies got to liberating all of Europe from them enlightened Germans.

    And it made me think of the humanity of the enemy. They were people like us. They thought they were doing the right thing. They weren’t a bunch of cartoon bad guys. They were people. That was a critical message. When your enemy is considered nothing at all like you, when there’s nothing to respect, you don’t realize how fine the line is that divides you. You’re apt to blunder from hero to villain without ever realizing what you’ve done, because you’ve been led to believe it’s impossible for you to be the villain.

    I think Bush & Co. could’ve used a Mr. Lynch in sixth grade. They’re so convinced of America’s innate rightness and the enemy’s wrongness that they believe anything we do is by default the right thing. Had Mr. Lynch gotten some of his contraband into their hands early on, they might be a little more prone to caution.

    Bush and company learned exactly the lessons of Mr. Lynch; exceptionalism. It justified German behavior then, it justifies ours now. Those we consider culturally on par, we respect. Others, not so much—they’re disposable. We spend time compartmenting our superior cultures within this border, or that border. Elsewhere is a free-fire zone.

    Because we’re beacons of enlightenment, striving to ennoble humanity through force, guns, ovens, Guantanamo, etc.

    Outside of Nietzche, I’m not sure that I’d give Germany credit for anything else. Their other philosophers seemed a bit too much in that category of today’s stupidity and cultural justification for violence.

  4. james old guy
    April 28, 2008 at 11:50 | #4

    “The US had to hussle up and invade Europe before the Russkies got to liberating all of Europe from them enlightened Germans. “

    Yeah right.

Comments are closed.