An der Uni. Aspiring Jack of All Trades.
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Vacation this week. Spring break, except summer. Using the time to read Peter Brook's The Empty Room (essays about theater from the director of the RSC) and to finally get through 100 Years of Solitude.
Wheels are in motion to explore transferring here permanently. Had this conversation:
"Yeah, I have no desire to go back, but it's only one year, and then I have my bachelor."
"...it's still a year of your life. And you can get a bachelor here. If you really have no desire at all to go back..."
And it's cheaper to live and to study here. And I'm getting a better education. And I can count a good number of my previous courses as transfer credit. And for a degree in German lit, 3 years at a top American university and 1 or 2 at a top German doesn't look too shabby.
And even if it lasts a little longer, I'm fucking 19 and I'm enjoying myself.
So that's what's up.
- i don't understand why cynicism means you have to take people at face value when they say they have all the answers
The „New Atheists“ and their superfans were never real cynics. They‘re ideologues who like to play the smart one while spouting their special brand of tribalist hate.
I never claimed that the 1% are the problem. I claimed that at my university, the children of the 1% exemplify a problem that runs through our entire society. I don't read class war anywhere in that claim.
What you actually wrote:
- it aims at mediocrity, by definition not the 1%
If my understanding of English syntax is correct, your relative sentence "by definition not the 1%" refers back to the antecedent, "mediocrity."
All I'm saying: you claimed that the economic 1% are "by definition" not intellectually mediocre. That's straight-up false.
I've met plenty of rich kids-- old and new money, thanks--who are just as intellectually vacuous as your stereotypical ASU student. As for the kids of the 1% being too few to make a difference? First of all, they're influential by virtue of their socioeconomic position, not by virtue of raw numbers. And second of all, my only claim was that they're indicative of a wider societal pressure, which you also identified and criticized.
Hole in your logic, hombre.
- you're surrounded by the children of the 1%
That is, children of the economic 1%. Old money.
- The problem with higher ed is that it aims at mediocrity, by definition not the 1%
The economic 1% =/= the educational 1%. Yes, higher education aims at mediocrity. But these people "who did just enough in high school to get into a reputable college and is now doing just enough to get the degree that will get them the job they're after, but who lacks any concept of intellectual curiosity"? That's 99% of the economic elite too. But as for why, you're right on. It's structural. Which is why I said: please stop pressuring these people to come to college.
I don't want to spend all my time with other German studies majors. That'd be horribly boring. I want to spend my time with other people who understand the importance of their own education enough to give a shit.
The foreign language exchange program I'm on has 8 participants this semester. Disastrously low numbers, even for a program with historically very low participation. The administration responds:
Better advertising? meh
Better financial aid? eh
Bolstering the university's foreign language requirement? nah
"Switch to an English language program or we shut you down."
The first week we were here, a stranger in a bar guessed our university based solely on the fact that we are the only Americans who even attempt to speak German. On a campus with 5000 international students.
Please stop pressuring people to go to college who have no business being there
It is so difficult to genuinely grow as an academic while surrounded by the "elite" fucking man-children of the 1%, who only care about signalling their eliteness and "boosting their social capital"
The German university has plenty of problems of its own but at least you can generally assume that if someone's there, it's because they genuinely care about their own education. Otherwise they'd be at a Berufsschule.