03-04-2012 11:30 PM
So, is the education system in our country molding or shaping a "middle class?" I know that universities are criticized every so often, for being either liberal or conservative, as Santorum had accused them recently in the news. In my experiences with universities, and also high schools, the "extremists" are either made fun of, or made to conform in some way.....
03-06-2012 09:35 AM - edited 03-06-2012 09:41 AM
A definition of middle class or middle class values might be good here. From wikipedia (sorry), who cites a another source:
"Thus, college education is one of the main indicators of middle class status. Largely attributed to the nature of middle class occupations, middle class values tend to emphasize independence, adherence to intrinsic standards, valuing innovation and respecting non-conformity."
So, taking the above as an accurate depiction of the middle class and middle class values, there are several contradictions. The middle class emphasizes independence, but adheres to standards. They value innovation and respect non-conformity, but they have to get a degree.
Should we have such a large class with contradictory values? Do the contradictory values of the middle class create stagnation of our political system?
03-07-2012 11:16 AM
We don't need fancy definitions of the middle class, however. The "middle class", by definition, is where the two extremes (left or right, rich or poor) meet, and assumes a disgruntled character. Society often shapes or molds this "class" of people to prevent collapse, or war, like World War One, which obviously could not be prevented. Education is one way the middle class is shaped, or simply, like the aforementioned definition, the middle class comprises all those with college degrees. And today, I think most people feel that you need a college degree in order to make a living- the statistic I gave on the number of colleges certainly supports this belief.
And competition often takes place in schools, although we they try to encourage healthy competition, schools are often places of sometime intense conflict. And in spite of our attempts to promote healthy competitiom, homocide does occur in them, at all levels both, public and private, increasing the level of security at schools lately to be sure, and making me believe that this middle class is becomingly increasingly difficult to control.
But education is certainly one way to control this middle class, is war another? And where does Amory and love fit into the equation? Well, let's read on!
03-08-2012 09:34 AM - edited 03-08-2012 09:53 AM
Just in case I may have confused people:
"Middle class" is defined by the word "middle"- and "the middle" is where conflict usually occurs, defined as that very special place between two extremes (maybe Treasure Island? ) We constantly try to define this "middle class."
Can we achieve anything better than a middle class education? There are both public and private schools at all levels of education. And of course, there is a distinction between ivy league and non ivy-league schools. And Amory considers the differences among the various ivy leagues in the story......I'm not sure if there are differences today.
Does all education just end up "middle class" no matter where you go? Or are educational differences, like the differences between ivy and non-ivy league schools, creating social divisions in the middle class (i.e.creating an upper and lower middle classe). Is our educational system dissolving class lines or just making them stronger?
My story is that I actually have a Bachelor's degree, and then I attempted a couple of graduate degrees and then encountered a strange class of people in those programs- and I finally had say "no"- I'm not sure if I'll ever go back. And then I encountered a strange "working class" of people outside those programs I had to say no to as well. So I'm always right in the middle- but I'm now writing and lifeguarding, which interestingly, has to remain apart from and above class warfare,, but isn't always- I always point out the famous case of the sinking of the Titanic, which is the best example of a social class disaster (war?), where people were evacuated according to their social class (first, second, third etc.) and lifesaving, of course, had to be somewhere above social calss distinction and all of the mayhem during that disaster- and one woman, the unsinkable Molly Brown, apparently was or attempted to be that..
Fitzgerald is proof that class warfare can sometimes create writers- but I'm not sure I should be a writer because of class warfare alone. I just said "What the hell?"
03-09-2012 08:16 AM
In Education, students are "classed" in different ways. Let's go through them:
So, there are private and public schools, and within each of those categories there are different levels of school, primary, middle, and high school. And within each level, several grades and, within each grade segragated according to ability and subject by means of a grading system: usually ABCDF.....also extra-curricular activities that segragate according to ability and age.
Of course, the way schools segregate is always controversial, some segregation has been deemed "unconstitutional."
So, people from about the age of five to about eighteen, are in a "segregated" environment where, even if they're not told to compete with one another, competition naturally occurs because of the nature of the environment.
What is the impact of the education system on our world? Is there such a thing as "healthy competition." Are students learning it? or Can students learn it?
03-12-2012 12:54 AM
The turn of the century was a time when the entire United States was forming itself. leading to the passage of the Immigration Act of 1917 which excluded:
"all idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, epileptics, insane persons; persons who have had one or more attacks of insanity at any time previously; persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority; persons with chronic alcoholism; paupers; professional beggars; vagrants; persons afflicted with tuberculosis in any form or with a loathsome or dangerous contagious disease; persons not comprehended within any of the foregoing excluded classes who are found to be and are certified by the examining surgeon as being mentally or physically defective, such physical defect being of a nature which may affect the ability of such alien to earn a living; persons who have been convicted of or admit having committed a felony or other crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude; polygamists, or persons who practice polygamy or believe in or advocate the practice of polygamy; anarchists, or persons who believe in or advocate the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States"
The Immigration Act of 1917 was one several acts passed during the turn of the century excluding or limiting the immigration of specific cultures and/or personalities. And we are, I think, still feeling the impacts of those immigration laws passed during that time, although the U.S. is not so exclusive now.
03-12-2012 11:44 AM
Following the passage of the Immigration Act, later in 1917, the U.S. entered World War One, with both voluntary and drafted soldiers- an interesting tidbit of information.
How much was World War One class warfare, or a war of the "middle classes?"
03-13-2012 09:55 AM
One sticky point in American History is World War One, and I think still contributes to a lot of the nuttiness in our country today, when the draft was instated.
Wikipedia reports: "In 1917 and 1918 some 24 million men were registered and nearly 3 million inducted into the military services, with little of the resistance that characterized the Civil War. The draft was universal and included blacks on the same terms as whites, although they served in different units. In all 367,710 black Americans were drafted (13.0% of the total), compared to 2,442,586 white (86.9%)."
I agree with the remark about the Civil War, but the universality of the draft was always questionable. The draft board was accused of drafting more men from the lower to middle-lower classes, than from upper-middle to upper classes, especially during that war, but alos in the wars that followed.
The turn of the century was when humanity really had to change and wound up, surprise in another war- way before our time. Now a mix of cultures by 1900, the U.S. and other parts of the world sought to mold and shape society in various ways, not with too much success, obviously.
03-14-2012 10:31 AM
The history of Princeton is also interesting, especially during 1900-1917, when the president of the university, who later became the president of the U.S., instated a number of educational reforms and created new buildings with "spires and gargoyles" , some with new emphases in the Sciences, physics in particular, motivating reknown scientists like Einstein to eventually take up residence.
The university life Fitzgerald depicts is a little different than the university life that, I believe ,exists today- somewhat elitist still, but probaby not as elitist as it was during the turn of the century, and not as humanities oriented, but possibly a strain of "structured" stupid humanities still exists (stupid plays, for example), as it may always have, despite Wilson's attempts to reform. But change it certainly did, and some of the change a direct result of Wilson's reforms, I think.
03-15-2012 10:47 AM
It's good that I decided to pick up this classic....sometimes I think we now focus too heavily on sociological perspectives of our history. but some is O.K. I think.
Again, it was the view that the American revolutionary war was simply a war of the middle classes, that got a little depressing- that is, if it was just a war of the middle classes, then throw the principles of democracy and freedom away. I can just see King George sipping a cup of tea England while he watches a war of the lower classes- it's almost an aristocratic persepective.
Anyway, are the political lines sometimes drawn between "east" and "west", simply lines between upper and lower middle classes? I mean we came up with simplicity about our own revolution, and then seemed like we got way too complicated wuth the cold war of the 1980's I think.
03-19-2012 12:21 PM - edited 03-19-2012 12:51 PM
The old ottoman empire was an important part of world of hitory-- you never hear too much about it.
So history states: the old Ottoman empire dissolved, opening up a sea of opportunity for trade with China, and then of course, World War One.
How much were the eastern and western fronts of world war one, divisions of class? Would you say eastern europe, lower middle? Western europe- upper middle? How about Great Britain, upper middle? Germany lower middle? Or later, after WW2, how about West germany- upper middle, and Eastern Germany- lower middle?
Is class warfare a better way to view world history or maybe a more accurate way to view world history? Was the conflict in Europe in World War One (and World War 2) causing class warfare in the U.S., or was the class warfare in the U.S. creating conflict in Europe?
PS- Do class lines sometimes fall along religious lines?
03-19-2012 01:05 PM
If we took a look at the 1800's and the following 1900's, it was literally an opening up of trade, and an ever increasing amount of bickering as the world's gold and silver supplies began to dwindle. Is the world just becoming more Bull^@!*, as Politicians keep coming up with interesting views on economy, along with their innovative economic plans, and the ideology and philosophy to support those plans?
03-21-2012 10:28 AM
Here's a girly subject:
Do you think it was more romantic at the turn of the century? My idea of romance might not necessarily be someone else's, and so, may be inherently "egotistical." Or are there romance standards?
03-26-2012 09:45 AM
The main character occasionally stops and takes a record of himself (my hero), like he does at Princeton:
"The fundamental Amory.
Amory plus Beatrice.
Amory plus Beatrice plus Minneapolis. Then St. Regis' had pulled him to pieces and started him over again:
Amory plus St. Regis'.
Amory plus St. Regis' plus Princeton. That had been his nearest approach to success through conformity. The fundamental Amory, idle, imaginative, rebellious, had been nearly snowed under. He had conformed, he had succeeded, but as his imagination was neither satisfied nor grasped by his own success, he had listlessly, half-accidentally chucked the whole thing and become again:
The fundamental Amory. " Chp. 3
Do we find ourselves in an education? Or can we become removed from our "original" selves? And what do you think about the separation of a "military school" education from a "public school" education? What are the simliarities and differences? Should a public school education include classes on how to use a gun, for example? Of course, now the political climate is unfavorable for such classes, to say the least.
03-27-2012 10:01 AM
Grading systems in education are perhaps the most controversial basic, created, for the most part (what a surprise), at the turn of the 19th century, and which all academic institutions, public or private, military or civilian, have in common. And, of course, there is always this what you learned vs. what you earned controversy. Possibly students only care about grades and wind up lost, or no better off, or no more intelligent than when they began their education.
Or consider the advice of Monsignor Darcy to Amory in chapter three:
"He's a bar on which a thousand things have been hung, glittering things sometimes, as ours are; but he uses those things with a cold mentality back of them."
Taking an "A" as a "glittering grade", does the grading system, itself, mold a specific type of personality or mindset? Does the grading system help shape the mentality of the "middle class?"
As the educated "middle class" grew in size around the world, it seemed as if "war" became more horrific, beginning wiih our own American revolution. But World War One was another horrific massacre- interestingly, Italy, whose alliance was pivotal during this war, issued around 38,000 silver medals to members of the allied forces for acts of valor.....
03-28-2012 10:18 AM - edited 03-28-2012 10:44 AM
Dick Humbird is an interesting character.
You know, when we have a "class" structure (i.e. upper, middle, lower) what is "right" would be in the middle- like Humbird. Unfortunately, the middle is always a precarious position- a place where conflict, and death occurs, like in a trench, for example. So, for Fitzgerald, a tragedy was the death of someone who was "right" in every sense of the word by simply fitting into this "middle class" mold. And not "fitting in" by choice, necessarily- is what I'm thinking....
PS- In a world of social classes and money, the "middle" of the middle class is where we are "morally" right- a point Fitzgerald tries to make here, I think. Religion, of course, helps to shape the morals, in general. How much did religion shape a "middle class", or how much does religion mold "middle class" values?
03-30-2012 01:15 AM
So, if you group a bunch of people, either in a classroom, or in a building, then the "law of averages" begins to group those people in different ways. For example, the grading system excludes both the exceptionally stupid, as well as the exceptionally intelligent. The middle of this class might be the "C" student, that is, if all of the grades on the scale are used- A through F. And you might even envision a specific kind of person, or even a specific kind of morality associated with that "C" student, who becomes a model of the right "morality" or the right "type" or person for the entire group, simply because the "C type" is the line in the middle of this group (i.e. the middle of the middle).
And so by simply grouping a bunch of people, in a builiding, or within a set of borders, even if you did not want to use a grading system, or no matter how you wanted to educate, or no matter how you wanted to mold a specific kind of morality, or mold a specific type of character, a behavioral mold naturally and gradually takes place through the law of averages. Try to think back on your high school years and try to figure out what "cool." was, for example.
PS- Extrapolate now from the grading system in education to the monetary system, and how it may also mold character....
03-30-2012 09:03 AM
Einstein's education was a mix of self-education and educational requirements, like Greek and Latin, and he eventually "dropped out" of high school. But his education seeemd to have enough uniquity and non-conformity to produce the great mind we know and love today.
He did attend some high school and universities, and later, as I mentioned previously, had difficulty "thinking outside the box", refining the "cosmo constant", after he formulated E=MC^2. The university
"educates", but also defines that education- that is the school has boundaries, as perhaps we note at Princeton - compare the the wildness of Nassau street outside school boundaries, with the serenity found on the campus....
04-02-2012 10:14 AM
I use "education basics" loosely, but we usually think of education as something that prevents war and does not cause it. And consider compulsory education which began in the U.S, at the turn of the century, when, in my opinion, humanity tried to find a little more stability in the human mind- anchoring itself in the intellect, as Stevenson suggests in "Treasure Island."
04-13-2012 09:55 AM
If you read books like "Treasure Island", "This Side of Paradise" (i.e, books in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th century), then you may have picked up on a couple of themes: 1) humanity atttempting "to anchor" itself in the human mind through developing sciences like pyschology and psychiatry 2) the human mind (i.e. psychology) is affected by "class structures" in place (i.e. upper, middle, lower). Stevenson touched upon the first, Fitzgerald wrote about the second.
And the pyschology and psychiatry basic: the human mind analyzes the human mind, in both areas- can it do so? And given the time that pyschology began to develop, and the class structures that were in place and are still in place, can we rely on either pyschology or psychiatry to solve our problems?
And another theme of the writers of the latter half of the 19th century is "invection"- how humanity started to turn in upon itself and could progress no further- read perhaps "The Red Badge" or "The Heart of Darkness." And so in many ways we're still stuck in the early part of the 20th century- reliving experiences found in that time period- well, without a few technological advances albeit....