Monday, April 04, 2005

Cheap Laptops

We talk a lot in this country about the importance of math and science education. We’re so behind! And that is so BAD! The thing is, there is very little talk about why math and science are so important. Don’t get me wrong, I suspect it is important but, to be honest, I just don’t know why.

And I have the same thought about this. I suspect it’s a good thing. But I also wonder whether anyone has really considered how the exposure to computers may impact families, communities and cultures that are not currently exposed. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there may be negative impacts.

The thing is, when we focus on one thing, we are, by definition, purposefully not focusing on others. In the case of math and science, I suspect that the importance of philosophy and cultural studies has been discounted. In the case of laptops, who knows? Loss of cultures, traditions and collective identity? I dunno, but I get all weirdy when value becomes a presupposition; Math/Science = Valuable, Laptops = Good. Maybe yes, maybe no, but it’s worth a discussion.


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6:47 PM  
Blogger Amy McWeasel said...

I don't have a lot of data to back this up (I suspect the data exists somewhere), but I think math & science are so important because they're the cornerstones of what everything else is built upon. As we get more and more technological moving forwards, math & science will only become more important.

In the most practical sense, math & science are vital to supporting oneself in life. You can have a nice philosophical discussion with your friends about cultural studies, but how many people can make a living holding those philosophical discussions? Not many, would be my guess. When it comes down to it, math & science careers seem to put food on the table while warm & fuzzy liberal arts type careers...not so much. Which sucks, because I'm not so good with the math & science. If I were, I'd have been a veterinarian when I grew up!

3:45 AM  
Blogger Aerenchyma said...

I agree with you AM, I think the focus on math and sciences is mostly because of financial considerations. I would disagree, however, that math and science are on which everything else is based. Western civilization is based on philosophy, including but not limited to; our laws, governing bodies, norms, social customs, languages, beliefs and even the very way we think about things.

But the financial status of a person is considered paramount. And it should be, to some extent…we do need to put “food on the table,” if you will. But many folks put food on the table while working for non-profits. True, they don’t put food on a table located in a 6000 square foot home and, as Americans, we seem to think that level of financial success is of vital importance. I would contend that the reason we are so upside down in our goals, were 6000 square foot homes are more coveted than a sense of rootedness in one’s community or a sense of contribution though working toward social justice, is because philosophy is not being taught. What questions are we asking our children and ourselves? What’s the measure of an angle, or what constitutes justice? What composes and atom or what kind of world do you want to live in? What genus is a frog in, or what makes us human?

I don’t wish to claim that math and science are unimportant, I think they are very much tied to our sense of progress But I do contend that math and science are not nearly as important as the larger questions…those that make us who were are, who we want to be and how we want to live. If we ask those questions of our children, and ourselves, we may create a world where soft sciences become of value, where you can make a living working toward an more ethical world, where your art may be valued, where care taking is rewarded.

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Feanor said...

Well said, Aerenchyma!

I'd still love me some cheap laptops, though.

12:19 PM  

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