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Friday, May 31, 2013

The Montessori-Americans Strike Again (Again)



(Written two years ago. Sears tried to launch a Intertunnel TV show called Screw*d that went nowhere, and I was writing about it. Yesterday's episode of Portlandia makes me wonder if they were the only people who watched it. And I just might have been fibbing when I said I didn't know whether it was funny) 

When I got up yesterday, I had 6019 emails in my inbox. The Montessori-Americans are at it again.

I wrote the other day about the benighted graduates of the White Dwarf Star Academy. No matter how I phrased it, and explained it, and commented about it after in simple, declarative style, I couldn't seem to get my point across. Everyone just goes back to their default setting and starts talking about kids these days, and how no one, sometimes including themselves, is handy with carpentry tools. I'll try again.

The people in the video, and the target audience of the TV show Screw*d are indeed not skilled in any productive manual arts. That is not the point. They are not good at any useful behavior. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. That's my point. Asking them to do something practical highlights an overarching, fatal flaw, because unlike every other thing they've been exposed to during their development, it requires them to change the world in a fundamental, productive way --something that can be measured. There's supposed to be a birdhouse visible at the end of the test, and there isn't. I was supposed to have today's email in my inbox, not 6000 emails I already erased. There's no difference, really. Someone like the hipster dorks in the video kept pressing some caramel-colored button somewhere for no particular reason-- somewhere that calls their workplace "a campus" to keep from terrifying their employees with even a hint of real work on the docket -- and I got thousands of emails I'd already erased sent to me over and over. I'll fix the email myself, and the birds will live in a dumpster, and that's that.

Whenever I go on one of these jags, everyone seems to further assume that I'm just a less successful Norm Abram making fun of the Valedictorians because they can't bang a nail, and I don't know Shakespeare from Shakes the Clown. But I am a born poindexter. I am the Valedictorian; or would have been, if I didn't stop attending school regularly when I was about sixteen. I don't presume to be as dumb and useful as Norm Abram. Norm learned what he knows from his father. My father taught me that when the vibration of the Briggs and Stratton loosens the nuts and bolts on the handle on the lawnmower, and they fall out and get lost on the tan lawn you're growing, you put rusty framing nails through the holes and bend them over with an upholstery hammer. I learned everything I know of  a practical nature on my own, because it seemed, well, useful; it bothers me to see so many robbed of the chance to hit their own thumbs and then proudly display their hematomas to a real, live girl  like I do every night.

Let's organize meetings, and everyone can puff on their inhalers instead of smoking and drink diet Mountain Dew instead of coffee and testify:

Hi. I'm a recovering Montessori-American.I was raised to pay attention to nothing in particular, until it got boring, and then pay attention to something else, and not learn anything by rote lest you lose the childish wonder of the goldfish discovering the side of the one-quart bowl with your forehead over and over again. When I grew up, I just expected my "workplace" would have half-circumcised tennis balls on the bottom of all the chairlegs, and a cafeteria and a ball crawl for when you get bored between team-building exercises and placing cover pages on your TPS reports. I figured important ideas would always be presented by a cartoonist on a whiteboard, or in collage format. I promised to make fun of people who read USA Today while simultaneously demanding everything be presented to me as a bar chart or a Venn diagram, and I fully expected to be drugged senseless to tolerate blocks of text of any kind. If a co-pay is suddenly required for my anti-anxiety medicine I figure I'll lay down on the low-pile carpet outside the HR office and whimper until one of us dies.

It breaks my heart to see them. They sit as meek and passive as Chance the gardener in an empty house saying, "Louise will bring me my lunch now." You'll not hear kids these days from me. Adults these days, maybe; because those adults have robbed most children of their birthrights, to soothe their own neuroses by visiting social engineering on the following generation.

The denouement of all public policy towards children from the last forty years has been reached. They don't know anything useful, they don't know how to learn anything useful, and they're afraid to learn anything useful. They're so far gone they're even afraid to reproduce themselves. But by god, they sure can update a Facebook page and dress the dog they have instead of a child as Boba Fett, which is nice, too. Who are you going to blame for that, exactly? Certainly not them.

The purpose of the Screw*d show isn't to make manually literate adults. It's an attempt to reposition the squaresville retailer that's selling the tools as someplace a hipster should shop. They want a taste of that magic Pabst Blue Ribbon marketing that turns anysuds into the hot new thing. They don't have any respect for manual arts, or the contestants, or the audience. They just want you to collect and display their tools along with your Legos and your action figures, even though you're balding and childless at this point and don't know anything about fixing things that the Handy Manny website didn't teach you. (Warning to productive adults: The Montessori-Americans that produced the Handy Manny website coded it to autoplay music, because they're tools, and not the kind of tools Handy Manny uses, either)

Don't cooperate. Have some respect for yourself, and for the subject at hand. Being a productive and useful adult is gratifying. Don't let them herd you into the world of the useless.
Do Not Go Useless Into That Website.

Do not go useless into that web site,
Young age should spurn the rave and close the browser;
Rage, rage against the dying of the sleight.

Men's men scratch their ends and know only right is tight,
Because their nerds had forwarded no emails they
Do not go mental because of some web site.

Fantasy Footballers, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail rosters might have danced against Green Bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the sleight.

Mild men who know only of girls in bytes,
And learn, too late, that Darwin's on his way,
Do not go gentle into that porn site.

Concave men, out of breath, who see with myopic sight
Four eyes could blaze like Death Stars and be gay,(NTTAWWT)
Middle-age rage against the dying of the sleight.

Luke, I am your father, turn off The Dark Knight,
Text, tell me not of your IT career, I pray.
Do not go useless into that web site.
Rage, rage against the dying of the sleight


(By the by, for obscure (to me) reasons, Amazon has decided to discount my book of Flash Fiction, The Devil's In The Cows. It's now only $7.19 and is Prime eligible, too. Buy one before they change their minds)

5 comments:

OMMAG said...

That was a great little essay.

God! So true ... It has been a painful 20 years for myself, trying to instil some semblance of critical thinking ability and a desire to do something useful.

BTW ... this post brought to mind the movie "Auntie Mame" when you describe your Montessori brats.

Anonymous said...

The academic teachers at my school hold their heads high around voc teachers like me, even though I have to teach their graduates fractions and decimals AGAIN when they get in my class. Current dropout rate for them > 40%... my students support themselves and their families.
Seeing it from the inside just makes it worse.
D

Anonymous said...

Dang.

Already botcher book.

Kinaget a refund from amazingmon?

Rob De Witt said...

"Montessori-Americans."

Mighty tasty.

Bilejones said...

I had a Swedish friend here a little while ago and as I was reminding my 11 year old boy of the various chores he had to do, the friend remarked that The boys workload had increased since his last visit.
I pointed out that my primary goal as a parent was to deliver a fully capable morally upright individual to the world in 7 or 11 years, depending on one's views.
This involves making sure he can operate clothes and dish washers, vacuums, basic power tools, lawn tractors etc.
The friend said, I wish someone had done that for me.

One wonders at how many don't know this stuff.