They. Just. Don’t. Listen.

My old friend Lido “Lee” Bruhl is a retired newspaper editor who enjoys the wordplay that happens in social media today. He passed along this poster:

“The planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”
–David Orr

Fredo “Two Fingers” Caronia was the first to respond.

Amen!” he said.

18 more similar responses appeared, most posted from one or another flavor of Apple computer.

I counted six more knee-jerk agreements, two Make Love Not War bumper stickers, five bashing the one-percent, three people against Big Banks, one plea to kick the peace keepers out of Pakistan (?), and one that announced Ross Perot’s poodle had caused all of our country’s problems.

Hello? Somebody has to earn the gelt to pay for the peacemakers and healers and restorers and storytellers and lovers. If you want a world that is un-habitable and inhumane, try one where all the businesses are forced to fail and all the inventors and entrepreneurs are ostracized, wrote the one contrary voice in the Wilderness.

Apple computer was created and marketed by a remarkably successful kid who had been frustrated by his formal schooling and who dropped out of Reed College after six months.

Words to live by! LOVED, ‘Liked,’ Shared. Thanks, Lee!!!” Fanny Guay wrote even after I had weighed in.

“To my perplexion,” Liz Arden said, “no one paid attention to the fact that the context they put Mr. Orr’s quote in dooms us to scrabble in the dirt eating bugs.”

The quote itself was lifted from environmental educator David Orr’s 1991 article, What Is Education For? in which he discusses six myths about the foundations of modern education, and six new principles to replace them. He repeated it in the 1994 polemic Earth in Mind, a book that examines not the problems in education but the problem of education. It is a topic he has emphasized since the 1980s.

He argues that much of what has gone wrong with the world is the result of “inadequate and misdirected education that alienates us from life in the name of human domination.” He also quotes Thomas Merton who called education the “mass production of people literally unfit for anything except to take part in an elaborate and completely artificial charade.” (Mr. Merton’s advice to students was to “be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success.”)

Meanwhile entrepreneur, Chess Master, PayPal co-founder, and Stanford Law School grad, Peter Thiel is paying college students to drop out.

I agree with most of the points Dr. Orr made. After all, a college education has indeed ruined many a good garbage collector. (He said “our education up till now has in some ways created a monster.”)

He lost me by quoting the Trappist monk and mystic, Father Merton.

See, the problem isn’t that we ought not prepare our students to succeed. I don’t want to scrabble around in the dirt eating bugs, either. The way to assure that I don’t have to is to keep teaching the next generation and the next and the next. The problem is that so so many people here equate success with bad.

Success is good. But the bashers simply don’t hear us when we say so.

Dr. Orr, by the way, is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics and Special Assistant to the President of Oberlin College and a James Marsh Professor at the University of Vermont. He holds a B.A. from Westminster College, an M.A. from Michigan State, and a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania.

Interesting that we the loudest critics of education already have ours, innit.

Of course I want change our schools so kids do gain knowledge, some culture, and the critical thought skills necessary to interpret next year’s data.