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April 13, 2003

What's Unreasonable?

If you want to start an interesting discussion, perhaps you should play the devil's advocate. That seems to be what Philip Greenspun is doing when he says public education should not teach "critical thinking" because it's better for the economy to have a nation of mindless drones. [Link via Scripting News.] Judging by the comments, it seems Greenspun's post has become both a test of readers' critical thinking skills, and its own proof that our public schools are failing to provide those skills—many of the commenters seem unaware that Greenspun's post is a parody of the neoliberal view of education. Of course, it's possible that the commenters are merely extending the parody, in which case I'm the one who doesn't "get it." Either way, it's a smart strategy: The argument proves itself. As commenter Mike Owens says, "Johnathan Swift would be so proud."

Another commenter offers this gem from George Bernard Shaw:

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

To which I say: Let's all be unreasonable. But wait: Who defines "reason," and what constitutes "progress"? Perhaps what saves us from complete fascist tyranny is that we can never seem to agree on the answers to these fundamental questions.

Posted April 13, 2003 10:41 PM | general politics

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