The New School Year Has Begun … So What?
Lo, we now begin anew the quest for the elusive quarry known as STEM. This is a magical quality that our educational system, through various and wondrous techniques, attempts to instill into the very bloodstreams of young people today. These young people are known as students, a word that used to define people seeking knowledge but today signifies someone already firm in their convictions and ready to proclaim their wisdom to the wider world.
We have glorified STEM to the point that our kids are convinced that if they don’t throw all of mommy and daddy's money into a technological or scientific or computer-based college course of studies they might as well just stay home and play video games all day instead. Come to think if it, from what we see coming out of our elite colleges these days, they might actually learn more valuable skills playing video games at home rather than sitting amongst hundreds of other kids in a college lecture hall, most of whom are already playing video games anyway.
But, Hail STEM! The miraculous and highly rewarded course of studies that is guaranteed to produce myriads of graduates well-skilled in all the technological and scientific and mathematic and computer knowledge to make a perfect mess of our world.
We have already seen the results of what STEM hath wrought. The acronym of course stands for Stupid Technological Enthusiasm Mania.
These are the people who have decided that the entire world must exist solely and exclusively on electric power but have no idea how it will be generated or why.
They have erected gargantuan wind turbines that effectively lacerate millions of birds, including rare eagles and other protected species. Having destroyed the very concept of a beautiful prairie sunset, they are even now installing such monstrosities off the Atlantic coast, meanwhile hoping no one notices the dead whales washing up on the shores.
And no one counts the dead human bodies piled up thanks to a manufactured global plague, and the many more that are added daily thanks to a worthless series of vaccines that are more toxic than the malady they are meant to cure and that millions of people were forced to undergo despite their questionable efficacy.
These are the people in our current fraudulent administration who are regulating into oblivion anything that works, including light bulbs, gas stoves, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, showers and flush toilets.
This is a question that is rarely asked in the realm of STEM. The pursuit of money and ephemeral acclaim has made a mockery of the concept of the academy as idealized by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Newman and others who knew how to think of bigger and more consequential things. But if the kids are willing to pay for STEM, then STEM, with all its intellectual vacuity, is what we will give them! And charge accordingly, because these are gonna be big paying jobs, and they will become faithful and generous benefactors someday.
The wisdom of the Greeks and other ancient thinkers is now deleted as spam, tossed literally on the garbage heap of worthless knowledge that has no relevance today.
Or does it?
I submit that what Socrates and his school and Plato and Aquinas and all the rest have to offer is of more relevance today than ever before, because we are at a historical moment unlike anything before. Sure there were always conflicts in our world, but only now do we have the ability to blow ourselves to bits. Anyone who reads the history of our planet is reading the history of consistent strife.
But, thanks to our single-minded concentration on STEM, nobody reads history anymore, or literature, or ethics, or philosophy. Liberal Arts are dying on college campuses. As a result we have lost any anchor on which to base our concept of what the world is supposed to be about and where we are in the process of attaining that goal. This ignorance does not inhibit anyone from mouthing their opinion anyway.
Today's elite academy has cancelled Socrates and replaced him with Bill Gates; Plato is gone in favor of Steve Jobs or Tim Cook. Zuckerberg is somehow considered intelligent, yet seems to possess no skills other than making money and screwing up the lives of our young people. Radical idiots, who would have been incarcerated in a sane world, now lecture at some of our elite universities. And people pay dearly for their wisdom.
The ancient schools taught all the known sciences, which constituted the available technology for those days. But they also stressed rhetoric, music, history, and philosophy, the very disciplines that ask the sometimes uncomfortable question: Why? What constitutes the good life, and how do we attain it?
Good questions for these uncertain times. Answers can be found in the huge world of knowledge that exists beyond STEM, and the best thing our schools can do is to invite students to explore it.