Monday, September 5, 2011

Asimov on Education, part 2

Yesterday I talked about Asimov's essay, "Battle of the Eggheads."

His comments in this 1959 essay are pretty prescient, when you look at the status of American education today, and the view of Americans toward intellectuals. (The only TV show that has scientists is a sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. And of course the scientists are all men - the female character, while not a "dumb blond" will nevertheless drive a car even thought the engine light is on and not comprehend why she shouldn't do it...)

Anyway, Asimov continues in this essay to point out that the literati have always looked down on the scientists, and some scientists have bought into this as well, viewing themselves as uncultured if they've never read the "classics."

(Although that, too, is dying out. Very few folks in the US have read the classics these days.)

Asimov, writing in 1959 over the backlash against an "over-emphasis" on the sciences:

"And what would happe to a man, a really cultured man, who had read Proust in the original French and Dostievski in the original Russian, but who had never quite sullied himself with calculus and protons and things like that. Was he to be a mere layman? Was he to be a person with a second-class education?"

Now we get to today, 2011, and we (the US) lag behind most countries in math and the sciences. Those folks who are excelling in our schools in those topics are immigrants from other countries - typically the Asian countries where education in the sciences is highly valued.

Asimov ends his essay with a slogan that we need today more than ever, "Eggheads Unite!"

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