Think anti-intellectualism in American education not a problem? Submitted for your disapproval: “There is nothing like knowing it all to kill the imagination,” write Eric Liu and Scott Noppe-Brandon:
“When we become expert, or think we have, we get the benefits of intellectual shortcuts and far greater processing efficiency-but we suffer the cost of closed-mindedness. Having seen it all, we stop looking. Having been there, we stop going. Having done that, we stop doing.”
Seriously? What possible basis in fact could there be for this broad, blanket condemnation of knowledge, which appears, incredibly enough, on the front page of NBC’s Education Nation website? The authors ostensibly want us to rekindle our childlike sense of wonder and imagination. They wax rhapsodic about something called the GeoDome.
Maybe fifteen feet across, eight feet high at the peak. As portable as a tent, as immersive as a womb. Step into the darkness, feel your way to a little canvas camping chair, be seated and gaze upward. Here begins an experience of pure wonder. Using Google Earth, real-time NASA data, state-of-the-art animation designed by a Pixar veteran, a single laptop, a projector, and an Xbox joystick, McConville takes the guests on a journey to…anywhere they want in the known universe.
I hate to muddy up the pie-eyed wonder-fest with troublesome facts, but we did not dream our way to Google Earth, NASA, Pixar or the Xbox. A deep knowledge base, years of training and expertise enable us to create the things that inspire awe in others. And I can’t help but wonder if physicists, engineers, and scientists of every stripe would be surprised to learn that their hard-earned expertise has resulted in “closed-mindedness.”