Monday, January 11, 2010

Sorry About That Teachers


The previous blog was not about failures in teaching.

Everyone missed the point on the previous blog (well, not everyone). But the teachers in my reading audience (can anyone but teachers and my generation actually read anymore?) took offense thinking I was accusing them of the sad state of our culture of use and toss, and outsource everything.

It is hard probably to point a finger at anyone cog in this degradation of our work ethic. Certainly the GW Bush policies were all about turning American in to an outsourcing think tank which unfortunately could not think beyond pyramid schemes that brought down our economy. It didn't hit me until last year how bad this had become. Parker Bros. no longer makes toys. They are a group of cubicle people that hire China to make toys. Toys which unfortunately again contain lead based paint. But that is another blog.

I blame parents (or the economy that forced both parents to work or the culture that made so many single parent households - again another blog) and the time they do not spend with their kids. Well, except for the ferrying them from place to place in the SUV.

My mother did not work. Dad spent weekends with us and not the golf course. We had a garden and helped plant and tend. Mom taught me to knit and Dad taught me basic woodwork and tool use. We all helped him build a rock wall around our patio. I can remember him taking apart our bicycles once a year and completely cleaning and lubing them. They were expensive enough we had to make them last. They were not bought and tossed. But watching him take out all the wheels and gears and cogs and put them back in the correct order made me hungry for how things worked. I was not as lucky the first time I took apart and tried to get back together the alarm clock. But I fixed my sister's doll. The one that stopped saying MaMa after she gave it a bath.

That hunger for knowing how things worked and how to make them continued all my life. I was one of the hippie generation that was into self-subsistence . I was a huge fan of the Foxfire series of books. I was living in Washington, DC at the time I found them. I spent every weekend I could in the Appalachians especially attending the little county fairs. A woman of almost 80 taught me to spin wool on a wheel. And her younger sister taught me to use a drop spindle and card. Later I sought out the knowledge of how to weave and sheared my own goats by hand.

I can tan a hide, build a trap for fish and small animals, change a tire, survive in the wilderness, can my own fruits and vegetables, and not whine when triple A is out of cell phone range and my sister and I have gotten the jeep stuck in a huge mud puddle.

What can this generation of youth do? Pass a No Child Left Behind test? Hack into Itunes? They can manipulate computers but could they make them. Bill Gates and his friends made the first ones in a garage not far from where I grew up. Who is to blame for this sorry state of affairs? I am not really sure. Nor are we the first culture to be in such a place. The fall of the Egyptians and the Mayan civilizations is theorized to be because they were cultures that had only the answers and never the questions. They had no firm footing upon which to expand their knowledge because they did not arrive at it themselves. See Cargo Cults.

More about all that in future blogs.