Saturday, January 21, 2012

Jan. 21: let's be nice today...

Let's not talk about the rather important stories that the TandT didn't notice. We won't talk about their recent report of Harper announcing his crushing fear of an Iranian nuclear bomb - and how the TandT  (and Harper, I guess) - did not notice the Jan. 19 story in the Christian Science Monitor which quotes the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Israeli Defense Minister Barak, and an Israeli intelligence report to the US military as saying that Iran is NOT developing a nuclear bomb.

But, gee, I would think that might be a pretty important story considering Harper is hyping us up for a war on Iran.

Nor has the TandT reported a recent BBC story that, contrary to international law and to the terms of the Libya operation, British forces were on the ground in the recent Libya war, actively on the side of the rebels. But, then, they also never reported the even older story that American troops were illegally on the ground in Libya, too. That looks like the war of the future. We declare its a humanitarian operation, stir up a smattering of rebels, then fight without saying we were ever there. It's not a world without war. It's something more sophisticated - a war without war.

And it would be like shooting fish in a barrel to comment on its p. 2 story that Enbridge Gas (as in shale gas) is mad at the NB government for changing the terms of its pricing. Among other gaps, the story doesn't mention that J. Irving (also rumoured to be interested in shale gas) has publicly spoken in approval of giving enbridge the shaft.

Personally, I just can't get excited about Enbridge and Irving having a fight. As Pogo put it many years ago, "I've often seen two dogs fighting over a bone. But I've never known the bone to pick sides."

No. Let's pick the most reliable section of the paper, the teen' columns in Whatever. Start with Isabelle Agnew for a column this week  that should be read by every news editor in the country.

It's a story about a teacher who declared that for one day blue-eyed children were superior to brown-eyed ones in intelligence, in social standing, everything. Accordingly, they got special privileges while brown-eyed ones suffered penalties. The next day, it was reversed with the brown-eyes a superior race.

There were two interesting results. The children who were declared to be superior actually believed it, while the other side actually believed in its inferiority. The other result is that the superior "race" of the day did better on exams - a situation that was reversed when it became the inferior "race".

That's not just a cute game. That's the way the human mind works; and that  way of working affects us all of our lives.Those who are born into wealth and social status just naturally assume that they deserve their wealth and status because of their obvious superiority to those who are poor. It's a quite natural assumption, just as a prince grows up to believe he is superior to common people.

That "racist" outlook makes the prosperous more likely to do well in school; and to have higher expectations of themselves both in education and in careers. Where I grew up, the highest expectation of us kids and our parents was that we would grow up to have steady jobs. My first job was as a mail boy at Bell Telephone. At seventeen, I  had achieved my life ambition. I was a neighbourhood success story.

Among middle class kids, it was more common to expect - no, to be entitled to - a Bachelor's degree before going to work. And so they did. Higher up on the social scale, the entitlement was to be a lawyer or a doctor, a professional of some sort.

Among the wealthiest "race" (and I came to know a great many of them), they were entitled not only to continued wealth but to assume leadership of the lesser breeds (us). It is a reponsibility and a right that they, like the old aristocracy, were born to.

That takes us to the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies and its school ratings. Financed to church out propaganda for our "superior race", it tests all students in the province each year in order to gather statistics that then rank the schools according to their students' grades.

Well, schools with large numbers of poor children will do poorly. Schools with large numbers of students who are well off will do much better. Statistics like that don't tell us anything about the schools. All they tell us is about the social environment the chldren are growing up in.

In fact, school rankings make the situation worse. When a school is ranked low, then it is officially "blue-eyed" or "brown-eyed", or whatever the inferior colour of the day is. So that almost guarantees it will continue to do worse.

The real purpose of rankings by AIMS is to lower public faith in the schools so that the rich can create one more Public/Private/Partnership in the so that they can put our tax money into   their pockets. Well, after all, the very rich are entitled.... They're the superior race - every day.

The same thing is true of the MacLean's university rankings. It's all statistical. So it is no coincidence that there is a strong relationship between the "best" universities and the average income of the students (or their mummies and daddies).

The universities, never strong on integrity or on understanding of education, have played along with this scam, each struggling to get a nod from the great minds at Maclean's so it can draw more students. The result is that they are educational disaster areas, each divided from the others according to its "racial" standing.

But you have to read the teens' section of the newspaper to get a hint of what's really going on.

Of course, it can be difficult to cope with such a section. A seventeen-year-old who's as knowedgable as Aurelie Parie scares me. Her ideas of diet and and exercise just rub it in that spending my life in a hot tub while eating poutine was a mistake; and I know it's too late now. Now, I'll never be beautiful. Well, not again.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your commentary on the T and T. It is so refreshing to read intelligently written pieces which actually have something to say. I can`t often find often those in the newspaper!

    Please, don`t be nice. It is refreshing to read truth.