Teaching people to think

Hello, I'm Anthony. (Hi Anthony) ...And I'm a Forum Addict. It all started years ago with CompuServe forums and Usenet. Not long after we got our first Internet account (way back in '94, through the local university) I started looking for people to talk with. At first it seemed innocuous enough, just chatting with people who had shared interests. There was the occasional disagreement with the odd agitator who showed up just to argue, but all and all, a forum was a friendly place. I'm not quite sure when or how it happened, but as time progressed it seems that the forums became more about the disagreement, and less about the sharing of knowledge; perhaps we are all looking for that emotional high that comes from being in a 'good argument'.

Actually, the tendency toward 'forum addiction' can be traced back much earlier than that. If you remember the charge you got the first time you knew something somebody else didn't know, and you got to explain it to them, got to see their eyes light up with understanding, then you too are a potential forum addict. That's where it starts. And then you discover the Internet, and how easy it is to share information. You join your first forum and you start posting. Before you know it you are spending days at a time trying to shove a few facts into another idiot's brain, never realizing that you to are an idiot just for making the attempt.

Talk about a waste of effort.

At some point (if you are like me) you will probably also discover that you are in an adversarial relationship with everyone in your group (Personally I tend to agree with a friend who observed that "it's the nature of the medium". For some reason the impersonal nature of text communication seems to make people more prone to "misapprehend" the meaning of a statement. There's a multi-million dollar government funded study in there somewhere) ...and the one time that you can all pull together is when you are trying to single out some other agitator to get rid of.

More and more often these days, that agitator turns out to be me. It seems I have this disgusting habit of making people think about things they'd rather not. Call me weird, but it's kind of a point of pride with me. I figure if I don't make someone go "Hmmm?" with each post, then I might as well watch the boob cube with the rest of the couch potatoes. Therein lies the rub. If you can't impart a few simple facts to the unwilling, how on earth can you make them think?

Once again, can we say Waste of Effort? I knew that you could.

...This is why government schools don't teach, they indoctrinate. No one wants to sit in neat little rows and listen to someone else lecture; and rote learning is boring, to say the least. So we have schools full of the unwilling that can't be taught even simple facts, much less be made to think for themselves. If it was understood that thinking for oneself was a blessing, and that school was a place where this was facilitated, you might actually find children wanting to go to school just to learn, instead of going just to escape from their parents.

...And that is why the Montessori method of teaching will always be superior to the typical attempt at teaching found in government schools. It stimulates the natural desire within the child to learn and to understand. This is also why you won't find Montessori teaching in the 'public' (government) school system. Worse than getting children hooked on drugs, getting them to think.

Back to the task at hand...

The idiot that I am, got kicked off another forum the other day (you might notice that it disappeared from my sidebar) Miscued on a post by another, who miscued on a (poor) attempt at humor on my part. The peanut gallery pounced at that point, I'm sure; one can rack up a lot of negative feelings when he's trying to pound a little sense into the opposition. They offered to let me stay on if I would agree to be moderated, but I'm not interested in letting someone else second guess what I should post. So I'm outta there...

I've alienated friends and family members with this stupid forum addiction, this blind belief that I can somehow impart a little understanding to the (as someone else called them) "unwashed masses" by "getting the information out there". Silly, really. Or is it?

Over time I've progressed (?) from knowing everything, but understanding very little (typical teenager) to knowing nothing, but understanding a great deal (hello mid-life) more than I can express in a blog entry.

I wonder when I'll learn to think...? And will it be before I hit 'send' the next time?

3 comments:

  1. Logan Gratehouse8:58 AM

    Well spoken. I too am guilty of many an adversarial remark (see my comments on your blog entry "It's called 'Philosophy'"). But I've realized I have to hand-select those people that I debate in forums or people get turned-off to me fairly quickly. I usually only go in when I believe the recipient can take it (and dish it right back out). This may be my greatest flaw, but I find great sport in it.

    How else does one learn to think unless he/she initiates some form of discourse? Plus I find that my opinion is changed more often than not as a result.

    I'm glad that there are others like me who understand the value of intellectual confrontation.

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  2. Anonymous1:01 PM

    OY! Next time run the spell checker eh! All in all good thoughts and some that really needed to be stated. Many old friendships are destroyed through the online discussions simply because both sides are caught up in the words.. not the people involved.

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  3. F*** 'em if they can't take a joke, as the saying goes.

    But then that's probably too abrasive as well.

    -RAnthony

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