Affluent parents, including many in Silicon Valley who work in tech, are limiting or eliminating their kids’ screen time. “It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens, while the children of Silicon Valley’s elite will be going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction.” (Nellie Bowles/NYTimes)
Older, less educated, and rural Americans are less likely to be online.
About 2/5 of adults age 65 and older don’t use the Internet, compared with only 1% of 18-29-year olds, says Pew Research. Also, the less educated you are, the more likely you are to not use the Internet — about a third of adults with less than high school education don’t use the Internet. And rural Americans are twice as likely to not go online.
Thomas Jefferson wanted to the university to be an entirely secular institution, without any religious component, but ironically it’s only during the 19th Century American religious Great Awakening that college students got serious.
Over the course of American history, college has gone from ecclesiastical training for ministers to vocational school.
It’s been twenty years since my workshop days and yet from what I gather a lot of shit remains more or less the same. I’ve worked in two MFA programs and visited at least 30 others and the signs are all there. The lack of diversity of the faculty. Many of the students’ lack of awareness of the lens of race, the vast silence on these matters in many workshop. I can’t tell you how often students of color seek me out during my visits or approach me after readings in order to share with me the racist nonsense they’re facing in their programs, from both their peers and their professors. In the last 17 years I must have had at least three hundred of these conversations, minimum. I remember one young MFA’r describing how a fellow writer (white) went through his story and erased all the ‘big’ words because, said the peer, that’s not the way ‘Spanish’ people talk. This white peer, of course, had never lived in Latin America or Spain or in any US Latino community—he just knew. The workshop professor never corrected or even questioned said peer either. Just let the idiocy ride. Another young sister told me that in the entire two years of her workshop the only time people of color showed up in her white peer’s stories was when crime or drugs were somehow involved. And when she tried to bring up the issue in class, tried to suggest readings that might illuminate the madness, her peers shut her down, saying Our workshop is about writing, not political correctness. As always race was the student of color’s problem, not the white class’s. Many of the writers I’ve talked to often finish up by telling me they’re considering quitting their programs. Of course I tell them not to. If you can, please hang in there. We need your work. Desperately.
Once, when I told a guy on a plane that I taught philosophy at a community college, he responded, “So you teach Plato to plumbers?” Yes, indeed. But I also teach Plato to nurses’ aides, soldiers, ex-cons, preschool music teachers, janitors, Sudanese refugees, prospective wind-turbine technicians, and any number of other students who feel like they need a diploma as an entry ticket to our economic carnival. As a result of my work, I’m in a unique position to reflect on the current discussion about the value of the humanities, one that seems to me to have lost its way.
Traditionally, a liberal arts education, in the arts, literature, science, and philosophy, went only to the upper classes, because they (and only they) needed the knowledge and judgment to lead. The lower classes only needed to be good, obedient employees.
Sure, education should teach job skills. But it should also enrich lives. It can and should do both.
Terrific essay. Read every word: Why I Teach Plato to Plumbers: Liberal arts and the humanities aren’t just for the elite.