Saturday, January 12, 2008

Those Were The Days

It's not nostalgia, it's a Cream reference (yes they were).

Our best HvH ever!

The Joy of Education

BY HAROLD G. PARKER III AND HAROLD T. PRATT IV

Dearest IV,

My idea of education is that everyone should be able to hit a target, solve a differential equation, and read Latin. If you’re not learning how to do these things, you’re basically wasting your time at college. The Greek word paideia…the advent of humanism…blah blah blah…the liberal arts…at last the development of the modern university. Let the game begin. You have to choose three things that comprise your idea of education. They shouldn’t be too specific, too general, too useless, too useful, or too boring (like “principles of accounting”). The only real requirement is that they be interesting. This game is endless fun and an art unto itself. You can have as many ideas of education as you want. My idea of education is that everyone should know how to build a sundial, talk about the significance of Hamlet, and outwit a wild dog.
So, how about it? What is your idea of education?

Hoping-I-never-meet-a-wild-dog,

III

Fearful-of-family-canidae III,

Solve a Diff Eq? Those guys you just look up. Speaking of which…
My idea of an education is that one knows which reference books one ought to own, one never mistakes the case of their pronouns, and one has at least 500 good quotations at hand (digits of pi only count if you know more than 10). This game is endless fun. After all, if we say ask what an education consists in, are we not questioning the validity of the university as a whole? Might we judge the administration’s efficacy with annular Princeton Survivor on that weird little island in Lake Carnegie, augmented with a wild pack of family dogs?
Yes, but the dogs are proving hard to find. In the meantime, we can pack in as many references
as possible, sort of a self-consciously erudite VH1 special. This is, after all, how most people our age experience life, to greater or lesser degrees of self-consciousness (and, inversely, self-importance). Or maybe I just get called Mr. Boston way too damn often. Stupid show.
Te toca a ti.

Having-the-best-week-ever,

IV

HP: Everyone should know how to fly a plane, make a speech, and hold a wineglass.
HP: Everyone should know how to string a fishing lure, what heroic couplet is, and how to blow smoke rings.
HP: Everyone should know how to throw a dart, how an engine works, and the true meaning of grief.
HP: Everyone should know how to discipline a child, roll a joint, and deliver a compliment.
HP: Everyone should be able to read a topographical map, mix a martini, and know how to break into a door with a credit card.
HP: Everyone should know how to throw a punch, appreciate Symbolist painting, and navigate by the stars alone.
HP: Everyone should know how to smoke a pork shoulder, pray, and play the piano.
HP: Everyone should know how to write a love-letter, hitch a ride on a sea-turtle, and the strange history of cheese.
HP: Everyone should be able to waltz, shotgun a beer, and put on lipstick.
HP: Everyone should be able to train a monkey, speak the truth, and drive a car at 150 MPH.
HP: Everyone should know how to make a good paper airplane, use chopsticks, and use a camera’s flash correctly.
HP: Everyone should be able to pull a tooth, fold a flag, and insult every manner of European in his own tongue.
HP: Everyone should be able to iron a dress shirt, argue vehemently for or against the serial comma, and gut a fish.
HP: Everyone should be able to wear heels with aplomb, administer CPR, and have a good knowledge of the Pre-Socratics.
HP: Everyone should know how to palm a coin, fold a napkin, and write a webpage in XHTML/CSS.
HP: Everyone should know how to charm a cobra, deliver a baby, and have a discreet affair.
HP: Everyone should be able to make a pizza, triangulate, and tie your shoes with one hand.
HP: Everyone should know the science of rhetoric, how to see through a blindfold, and the fundamentals of tannery.
HP: Everyone should know the difference between emperor and monarch butterflies, epees and foils, and nu’s and v’s.
HP: Everyone should know the difference between a secret and a mystery, an acid and a base, and a rabbit and a jackrabbit.
HP: Everyone should know the difference between sleet and freezing rain, chasms and abysses, and African wild dogs and jackals.
HP: Everyone should know the difference between liquor and liqueur, a shilling and a farthing, and a Yankee and a goddamn Yankee.
HP: Everyone should know how to drive a stick-shift, the meaning of the word flux, and the lives of at least 5 English monarchs.
HP: Everyone should know how to weave a fine quilt, throw a party, and give a eulogy.
HP: Everyone should be able to type at least at 30 words per minute, know what ibid. means, and know how to use the safety on a gun.
HP: Everyone should know how to communicate in semaphore, the perfidy of Portuguese sailors, and be familiar with the mass cultivation of tobacco.
HP: Everyone should know how to calculated an expected value, the primary agricultural product of their home state, and the number of national championships their alma mater
has won in football and basketball.
HP: Everyone should know how to treat the homeless with respect, savor the sunset, and stage a coup d’etat.
HP: Everyone should know how to braid hair, how to bowl a strike, and at least three stupid gimmicky methods of opening a beer bottle.
HP: Everyone should know how to make spaghetti, juggle medicine balls, and drive a car ... at the same time.
HP: Everyone should know how to open Starburst in their mouth, read in a mirror, and use sign language ... at the same time.
HP: Everyone should know how to amuse strangers, impress girls, and urinate off a moving bicycle ... at the same time.
HP: Everyone should know how to tie a shoe one-handed, dance en pointe, and drink a flaming shot ... at the same time.
HP: Everyone should know how to sketch a model, escape from a hospital, and the cool parts of the Bible.
HP: Everyone should know how to read palms, pick pockets, and cross-dress convincingly.

Dearest IV,

Clearly my education is a failure since I can only do two things from the entire list. Also, I think the fact that eight of the things we came up with are drug-related speaks plenty about the state of collegiate education. And despite the inclusion of a few “feminine” things like braiding hair and weaving quilts, I also wonder if this list isn’t maybe a little sexist. Or maybe I’m sexist for seeing this list as sexist using outdated characterizations of the masculine and the feminine? Ultimately, I’m left with questions. For instance, what the fuck is flux? And is there actually a difference between a rabbit and jackrabbit? Why are you obsessed with being able to
tie your shoes one-handed? I still wish I knew how to outwit a wild dog more than anything.

Scanning-the-horizon-for-seaturtles,

III

Fretful III,

I readily admit to the list being sexist, but that’s only primarily because I am. Why is that? I suppose it’s because, in main, my education has been the long accumulation of tricks, habits, orthodoxies & iconoclasms, and an ever-increasing sense of failure. When, after all, what you’re actually supposed to be learning is how to ask questions well, how to deal with other humans as
such, and how to doubt effectively without completely losing trust and faith – well, that last point a lot of people get pissy about, but however much it ires the stubborn, we spend the vast majority of our time reasoning via appeal to authority, whether or no it’s The Authority. So, maybe education is just learning to fail catastrophically and gracefully, with well-rolled joints and well-tied shoes.

Peering-into-the-chasm/abyss-for-lipsticked-
Portuguese-sailors,

IV

1 comment:

  1. i used to have this article taped to my wall.

    ReplyDelete