In the past few days our group collaborated on a list of umbrella topics by each member supplying at least two concepts and by brainstorming on these topics. We came up with many interesting topics. There are many topics that I would probably not thought about, but they all fit the categories under which they are listed.
The two umbrella topics that I have contributed are “Dumbing of America” and “Individualism”. I believe that dumbing of America is a natural process that we need to fight. The point here is that everyone wants to be the smartest guy in the room. That can be achieved in one of the two ways. One can either study, and this is hard, or one can try to make all the others stupider, and this ,I believe, is happening right now in the US. I believe that a business owner (think of a car salesman) is happy to have a dumb customer come to his store since such a lad is easier to fool. Also a politician is not interested in seeing smart voter, since a smart voter may realize that the politician is a crook (which is true, in my opinion, in 99% of the cases). The fastest way to make population dumb is to make them lazy. “Lazy to work, lazy to think.” It all starts in schools when a teacher hands a child a computer and tells him/her: “No need to memorize multiplication table, just press this button and that’s it.”
Individualism has been an important part of American history. Captain America, Superman, Batman, Ironman, are all American invented heroes that work alone. These characters are great raw models for kids and great examples of morality. I the spirit of the strength and independence, American children are encouraged to leave home at the age of 18 and take care of themselves. Old people are encouraged to enter retirement homes so as not to be a burden to their kids. A traditional family values dictate that parents take care of their children until they are ready to efficiently support themselves (That is until they graduate from university) and their children take care of them when they are old. The traditional model is lot more economical, but requires that people are not egoistic. But this model is not good for businesses. If students live at home, money will not be made on rents and fast food. If aging parents are taken care of by their kids, there will be no income for retirement homes, hospitals, etc. And there will be less taxes for government to collect. So which of the two models do you think the government will enforce? Immigrants from many countries have these family values and save the premiums that an average American family pays for their individualism. They can use the saved money to grow their businesses. (One can argue that by not taking care of your old father, you can save time and make some extra money. Face it, that is pure theory. In reality, most people will just spend more hours watching TV, drinking, etc.)
The umbrella topic “Fears” resonated with me. I worry about things such as pollution, nuclear wars, deforestation of our planet, rapid climate changes, religious fanaticism, nationalism, racism, etc. “Education” umbrella topic is also close to my heart. In my opinion, the education in the US is going from 10 to 5 and the dumbing of America is in progress. Misusing technology in classrooms, not enough math, science and common sense in classrooms. Math is taught by memorizing childish poems about formulas instead of understanding. Science and math teachers have generally good pedagogical skills but many, especially on elementary, middle school and high school level, do not comprehend the subject they are teaching. Even some Ivy League Universities use there name build on the quality of their graduate school to attract undergraduates. Undergraduate students are attended by instructors who try to retain them to serve as cash cows for administrators, sacrificing standards in the process. Plunging educational standards in the US are also in the direct correlation with the diminishing of family values, a process fueled by extreme individualism and pursuit of short term happiness at the expense of balanced and happy life in the future. Lowering of educational standards is also an indirect consequence of big businesses such as weapons industrial complexes and the conglomerate of medical-pharmaceutical-insurance cartels manipulating masses by using marketing and persuasion strategies based on psychological science and utilizing loopholes and flaws in democratic governing system to pursue their own happiness by maximizing profits of their stock holders and their CEO’s on the layperson’s expense. But I already covered this topic elsewhere in the blog with the basic idea that no business wants a smart customer whether it is an insurance cartel and your local grocery provider. So I will stop right here.
Update – 6/20/2014
Reading Sarah’s blog “Collaborative Interest Inventory process: My thoughts“, I noticed that our interests intersect in three topics. Sarah listed as her interests both of the umbrella topics that I suggested (thank you Sarah :)). We both are also passionate about education. I liked Blurpity’s blog how she exposed the process of her selection of topics. By elimination she arrives to “music tastes” and “horror movies” as her favorite umbrella topics. I completely agree with her. These two are great topics to write about. Gerell likes controversies as it is apparent from his blog on Collaborative Interest Inventory process. In her blog Symone concluded that the topics “Trends”, “Controversies” and “Fears” are of most interest to her. She will definitely not be writing on horror movies and gender. She also listed few topics she would never consider writing about without this process. Two of these topics were my contributions, namely “The cost and benefits of individualism in America” under the umbrella category “Individualism” and “Internet and sexual explicitness and use of foul language in mainstream pop” under the umbrella category “Music Tastes”.
In conclusion, I think that all students in our group worked very hard and put in a lot of hours this week to make this project a success. They all deserve a nice and relaxing weekend free of any assignments :):):).