Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Today's Quote

I'm actually quite fond of Andy Borwitz's work, He writes these headlines that are amazing, so close to the truth yet accentuating the absurdity we all know to be there. I find myself asking, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?"

I guess if I had I'd be writing for the New Yorker, like him, rather than for NYC Educator, like me. But this was a tough thing for me to read. There's this thing Americans do--we blame education or lack thereof for many, many things. Sometimes it's true, but not all the time.

I took this a a bash on teachers, and I was not at all happy about it. I've grown kind of used to teacher-bashers, seeing them everywhere, on all media, and coming sometimes from people I'd think would support us. Borowitz bashing teachers is really awful.

When I posted this on Facebook, a lot of people told me I misunderstood this quote. He's not bashing teachers, they say. He's attacking the people in charge of the educational system. Maybe. Maybe he's focused on Bill Gates and Common Core. I mean. Bill Gates certainly sucks, as do all those vital programs that are good enough for our children but not his. Maybe he's talking about Betsy DeVos, whose programs have served to cripple public education in much of Michigan, and dump it in a dark hole somewhere in Detroit.

I did a search to find context for this quote, but I've thus far located nothing. In fact, a lot of people have written about this quote, but I can't find anything that isn't attached to this picture. Perhaps he didn't even say it. I checked Snopes and didn't find it there either.

We live in a world enthralled by video. The other day I was in a restaurant, and I was pretty surprised to see a small family in which the kids were eating and Mom was texting like there was no tomorrow. A family issue? A lover? Who knows? I have no more idea of what she was doing than I do of Borowitz's intentions, if indeed he said that thing.

I'm not sure that I'd head right to education to explain Trump voters. I'd link it with the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine by Ronald Reagan.  The media used to be required to present both sides of an issue, but they aren't anymore. Hence the arrival of Fox News, which has more or less brought the lunatic fringe mainstream. People sit rapt in front of their televisions and listen to propaganda all day long.

These are funny times we are living in. In 1984 I was in East Berlin. An English teacher there told me they sold Pravda on every corner, but no one ever bought it. Fox News is Pravda for Americans. I don't know whether or not they pretend to be "fair and balanced" any more, but I talk to a whole lot of people who seem to pick their arguments up from there.

I don't teach kids to read propaganda. I try to teach them to think for themselves. I'm delighted when they see fit to argue with me. But I'm in competition with 200 video games and who knows what else. Anyway, if Borowitz said it, and if it was directed at us, that's not a fair critique. If it's directed at the people who try to control us with crap like Common Core, I understand.

And if any reader can track down where this quote came from,. what the context was, or even whether or not it's legitimate, I'd very much appreciate it.
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