Tuesday, 14 September 2010


I'm vaguely thinkning of writing a book. There, I've said it. Possibly slightly pretentious, After all, isn't that what a lot of people say? Especially ones who haven't gotten around to finshing a PhD thesis yet (and that hasn't quite vanished either). But I think this one is a decent idea.

I call it The Cult Of Stupid. Why? Becasue we are surrounded everyday by people telling us that the world is dumber than it was, that kids are stupider (or more intelligent. Pick a news outlet. And a day). We are supposedly assailed by a culture of anti-intellectualism, where children find the idea of learning siomehow upsetting, where clever is looked down upon and appearance is prized above all. Yes, we do live in the era of brain numbing slop like the now thankfully departed Big Brother, or the large scale manipulation of shows like The X Factor but does that mean that, as a species, we are becoming more stupid?

One of the first things I thought of was teaching.We've just gone through the yearly A Level and GCSE farce, where the pass rate routinely rises, and a group of old farts then pronounces that the results mean nothing and that kids are not as intelligent as thet were back in their time. Well, are they? Are the exams any use? Do they equip children for the modern world? Are we even teaching our children the right skills to survive in the kind of world we are busy creating for them?

I think my plan at this stage is to use this blog space as a repository for ideas and soundings, before maybe plutting them inot a more coherent form. for that reason, there may not be mouch sense of narrative flow here. Or sense, come to that.

Does all of this sound like a good idea for a book of some sort? I'm going to have to think about it...

1 comment:

  1. Doubtless you'll know (in response to your penultimate question about the right skills for our children) that Sir Ken Robinson has something to say about this.

    When you spot something a little out of the ordinary, it's sometimes difficult to know which of Sturgeon's buckets it will (sooner or later) end up in. I.e the 90% of everything which is crap or the remaining 10%. This may be because (with all due respect to dear old Theo) he's over-simplified and unnecessarily polarised 'things'.

    So as regards your final question, my late father had what I believe could be a better idea for a book. He complained, for many years, about what he called The Cult of Mediocrity. I believe he wasn't bothered about mediocrity per se but rather by the over-rating of mediocre performances or performers. He was a professional musician, but I wouldn't limit the scope of mediocrity to that area.

    That 90% of everything is mediocre, and 5% each of everything else is either genius or stupidity. Yer actual Gaussian distribution of course. Folk with axes to grind wish to push stuff out of the middle and into one of the tails.

    As pushers preferentially talk about their own stuff, most such pushing is into the top end (hence the cult of mediocrity). Because most people aren't mean-spiritedly pushing other people's stuff (they generally have no interest in it), then relatively few push in the other direction, the notable exception being the Daily Mail.