Monday, April 20, 2009

On Susan Boyle and Mediocrity in the West.

Oi Vey. A friend sent me an email about Susan Boyle last week- we promptly went to YouTube and took a listen. Just beautiful. As Viking Man and I are pretty steeped in sociological observation what captured us, me anyway, about the whole performance was the fickleness of the audience. Cynical, derisive and dismissive one minute and glowing the next. Maybe it's just that I've read too much about WWII this year because I keep thinking about how easily swayed we humans are- from friends and neighbors one minute to people standing by while others are degraded and violated. Just gave me pause. Frontis nulla fides, baby, but we as a culture seem to have forgotten that great truth.
Ryan Patric over at First Things has a few things to say about the Susan Boyle phenomenon, and being the educational junkie that I am, I resonate. "The popular audience in the West likes to validate its own mediocrity, and crowns stars-for-a-day" ...and more: Meanwhile, in China, 60 million children are learning Western classical music under the gimlet gaze of strict teachers. East Asian singers, particularly Koreans, are working their way up the ranks of provincial opera companies, and every one of them sings better than Boyle. Who do you think is going to run the world 20 years from now? You can find the article in its entirety here: Re: Beauty and Ms. Boyle

Which leads me back to 2 million minutes (Are You Smarter Than a Third World Tenth Grader?), a Roman named Status Quo and what in the world are we thinking? Wait, we forgot how to do that, we'd rather be entertained. If you haven't already, take some time to read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman, or The End Education KB noticed a sign in town last week-end, designed to sell fish. She took it apart from a logical pov and concluded that it was an illogical ad. Love it.

My book list grows as I listen to interviews with people like Thomas Friedman our original interview and listen to our second interview (courtesy of Amazon) and this interview at the YaleGlobe: Right now I am looking forward to the release date of this: The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education by Maya Frost.
Meanwhile, I'm off to educate my own students, most of who've escaped to the kitchen to bake cookies or outside to play in the rock-n-roll wind. Divided by gender, naturellement; those who advocate that gender is taught, not inherent just make me laugh. Right.

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