Archive for the Philosophy Category

Hablo Ingles Solamente :-/

Posted in Education, Lazy Linguist, Philosophy with tags , , on May 1, 2012 by consortiumoffools

As you may or may not realize, that in addition to automobiles I enjoy studying linguistics and more recently speech-language pathology (essentially linguistics applied to communication disorders).   In a recent multicultural considerations class, we discussed the need for bilingual speech therapists.  If a client speaks a language other than English, the best way to assess him is in his native tongue (in order to subvert a diagnosis of a disorder).  But will clinicians take it upon themselves to learn new languages?

The language of dominance and prestige in the United States is undoubtedly English: the schools, the courtrooms, the media, the road signs… are all written in English.  I believe that tri-generational shift is occurring in the US because of this overwhelming pressure to use English.  The 1st generation immigrant speaks only his native tongue, which he uses with his offspring.  His children find out in school that English must be learned to be accepted by greater American society and culture.  Once this 2nd generation has children, they are so immersed in US culture that there is little motivation to learn their parents’ language.  In fact, there is widespread pressure to abandon it: school is all English, popular songs and books, peers, parents purposefully refraining from L1 use with their kids, etc.  There are active forces keeping native languages buried, but the most important being the 3rd generation’s motivation factor. I believe that popular American culture is more intriguing to youth than their native tongue.   Jay-Z doesn’t sing in Diné.   Madonna, despite her Spanish name, never sings en Español.

"Ya-ta-hey, bitches."

To answer the question I posited earlier: the necessity to learn any language other than English does not exist.  We don’t NEED to learn another language to succeed in this country, so we won’t.  Biologists call this economical: following the path of least resistance.  I think we’re just being lazy.  I mean, I’m being lazy.  I know that my future clients will be much better off if I can assess them in their own language, and it’s a tragedy that I won’t, but I’m a victim of the US circumstances.  I never need to use Spanish daily, not even in this state!   But I will certainly include a translator or cultural mediator during assessment and intervention, in order to provide as best service as I possibly can.

Slogging Away Why?

Posted in Education, General News, Philosophy with tags , , , , on March 16, 2012 by consortiumoffools

“Look at all of us getting blindly ripped off,” I said, waiving my hand over a sea of undergrads who were swiftly trekking to classes. “Suckers.” Since the last time I attended this university, the number of students has risen significantly. Schools across the nation have seen an increase in students and the nation itself has seen a notable increase in new universities that all promise the same thing: attain this degree of higher learning and your quality of life will undoubtedly improve. I have two degrees and I’m back taking prerequisite classes for yet another degree with this dream in mind.

 

Documentaries such as America’s Crappy Schools or whatever it was called, claim that there are plenty of high-end jobs in the US that are filled by geniuses from other countries because Americans lack the education required for these careers. These careers include mechanical engineers, surgeons, and college professors. So flashback to me standing on campus peering out at the masses. We are all buying in: if only we go back to school, take out some loans, we will get those jobs and make the money. But we won’t make the cut. School and departmental funding is incrementally decreasing, federal loan aid is constantly in jeopardy, and all of us flooding the system decreases the individual odds of even getting into school. For instance, I applied to 6 grad schools across the nation. In one of my many letters of denial, an administrator delineated the data of the average scores for this year’s admitted applicants for me via a chart:

GPA

3.91

GRE %iles

Verbal

80th

Quantitative

63rd

Analytical

66th

My GPA was 3.7 and my GRE was 65th,44th,48th respectively. My first semester back in 3 years, I took 15 credit hours, which is five classes, and earned 4 As and a single B. There were 403 applicants for 35 available positions. This boils down to an overflow of applicants and the university’s policy to take the top 35 who earn the straightest of As and score well on a $160 standardized test. The admissions committee does not get the chance to analyze any other student credentials because of this cut-off. There is an obvious disconnect between academia and the career market. The schools must somehow rank students as numbers based on standardized tests. These test scores and ability to succeed in the job market are two different things. Tests: memorizing, studying, and submergence in white American culture. Job market: integrity, consistency, reliability, and determination are keys to success. The skills imparted on us in college do not mirror the skills required by employers. Several professionals told me that what they learned in school they hardly use in practice. Job proficiency begins to appear after 5 years of work in the field, not from abstract theories presented to us in school.

Americans need to earn that education to keep our US jobs. Yeah, right. The institutions are overwhelmed by applicants and their small programs cannot accommodate the demand. Yet, these institutions are willing to take our cash, no questions asked. My undergraduate prerequisite classes cost me the exact same as graduate degree classes. Per UNM policy, because I already have an undergraduate degree from them, any additional classes I take are billed as graduate classes: (about $1,000 more a semester) even undergraduate classes. I will not be awarded another degree, even though the classes I’m taking essentially add up to another major (27 department credit hours so far).

When I pointed out my fellow university companions as suckers, I smugly felt I was not a sucker as well. “I’m going into speech-language pathology, I’m guaranteed a job.” That is if I get into a school. I’m currently on the UNM grad program waiting list. I’m going to keep taking classes to inch my GPA up. I’m going to retake the GRE to earn a higher score. I’ll apply to the 6 schools again next year. I realize that this education is just a step in the journey toward gainful employment. I won’t give up, but I certainly am disheartened as I’m churned by the higher education machine.

An Age of Entitlement

Posted in Philosophy with tags on November 27, 2007 by consortiumoffools

Many contemporary senior citizens have been known to describe the current generation as one who feels entitled to handouts in life. These fogies have been overheard stating that we are all lazy and expect something from the world in exchange for merely existing. I propose that it is not a problem with a certain age group, it is a problem with everyone alive today in America. We have already met all of Maslow’s needs, so now we expect more. When people don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, how safe they will be, or if they will be alive the next day, they begin to look at life with a new perspective- a perspective based on entitlement. We all feel that we are owed more. This is in part because of the nature of capitalism. We are taught to be good consumers, to buy up everything we can- even if our interest in the product is remote.

The idea that it is not just our age group, but everyone alive right now stems from my personal experience. I work with an older gentleman who is very lazy. He expects everything out of others, yet refuses to participate when he is called upon. Another older gentleman I talked to inadvertently dated himself when he said that, “young people these days have no work ethic. In the industrial revolution everyone worked and made this country what it is today.” His argument fails to include the ethical boundaries that people in that time period disregarded. There were no child labor laws, women were not allowed any positions of power, people of color were discriminated against, and ignorant business plans and ruthless CEOs ran a society fraught with immoral behavior. Now we are trying to save the environment whose destruction they pioneered. We are creating new sustainable methods for energy consumption, living, and working. There have been many advances in the medical field and in the computer sciences.

Some people would argue that these new technologies allow us to be more lazy. Instead of writing a letter, we can just send an e-mail or text message. Instead of going out and meeting people, there are websites designed for dating. In part, this argument is valid, it is easier to communicate. But this new ease only promotes networking. We can now have orders shipped from China without ever talking to anyone. We can be productive from our homes. Stay-at-home moms can hold down a day job online in a rural community. Nothing like this has ever been possible before. We used to have to move to the overcrowded city and struggle.

The societal laziness does not come from new technology. New technology gives us more resources to perform previously difficult tasks. The phenomenon is based in our own view of the world. We, as Americans, have been told that we are the best country on Earth. We have been given participation ribbons in grade school just for showing up. We are provided with thousands of consumer options everyday. We no longer have to worry about many of the problems the rest of the world faces. Our society is becoming service-oriented. We can have our shoes shined, our homes cleaned, our cars driven for us, our food cooked for us- all for a price. We have come to expect these services from everyone around us. This new age is one of entitlement for sure, but maybe we can still save it. There are hard workers out there, there is some work ethic left.

Steel Mill