June 6th, 2005


Anticulture shock: backlash against history or generation gap?

Everything should be made as simple as possible - but no simpler.
    - Albert Einstein

Is it just me, or is there a backlash in North American education against historical and cultural awareness, being well-read, and generally being thoughtful and reflective?

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What I wanted to talk about today is that I also see an alarming decline in cultural awareness within technical fields. For example, I get a lot more blank looks when I refer to things that "once upon a time", ever computer science major in the USA knew, not just the "hardcore geek".

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Did I just get old? Did a new generation of we-think-we-invented-everything kids spring up while I wasn't looking? (Yes, I realize that this is a continuum, and that every cohort of children are generally like this.)

Or are people trying to get dumber? I hate to sound cynical (I really do), but it feels like an assiduous, fashionable, and self-justifying trend. I just don't want to have the next two decades go down in history as the American Cultural Revolution. And of course, I could just be overreacting to the backlash against classical knowledge in CS/IT, or in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), but it's eerily familiar sometimes.

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    John Williams - Padmé's Ruminations (ROTS Soundtrack)