On my Facebook page, Michael Cooke posted the latest challenge along these lines. Let's (try to) put this issue to bed once and for all.
How does any educator measure results? Do schoolteachers judge themselves by test scores? By following their students' careers after they graduate? Maybe, but probably not.
I say education is self-evidently good and I don't need to defend it. If you disagree, go ahead and tell us why it's a waste of time. Post arguments explaining why educators should be dispensing food and medicine rather than words and ideas. If you come up with something better than your own anti-education opinion, I'll address it.
You want measures? Give me the measures used by teachers, librarians, and journalists and I'll apply them to my situation.
What about creative types such as writers and artists? Are you seriously arguing that their work is useless to society? That we should close bookstores, shutter theaters, and empty museums? And devote all those intellectual and artistic resources to fighting poverty instead?
Until you come up with measures for these people, here are the measures I use for myself:
Sorry none of this has changed the world yet. But it's certainly doing more than my previous job as a corporate computer programmer did. And probably more than whatever you do for a living does.
2) Encourage people to see things from a multicultural perspective. To overcome their preconceptions and biases. To see things rationally and think about them critically.
3) Address Native issues to help a) Native people in particular and b) all people in general with more of item 2.
Has Rob changed history yet?
FYI, I'm one of millions of liberal activists working for a series of related causes. Our efforts are having a cumulative effect; witness the election of Barack Obama, for instance. If activists pressure Texas to revise its textbooks again, I'll be happy to take a millionth or whatever of the credit. No more and no less.
You want results? Give me the money and I'll do a poll of people's awareness and knowledge of Indians. I'll do a study of how their awareness and knowledge increases after exposure to stereotype-free lessons, products, and entertainment. Once they learn Indians aren't dead, do pay taxes, aren't rich from casinos, etc., I'm guessing they'll be more willing to help.
This is another way of saying education produces results. Indians understand this, which is why they form trade organizations and hire lobbyists. They make the same points I make here--Indians aren't dead, do pay taxes, aren't rich from casinos, etc.--to influence government, business, the media, and the public.
As I've said many times, I'd be happy if people didn't argue with me when I point out problems. I'd be thrilled if racism and stereotyping dried up and I could go out of the criticism business. I'd be as overjoyed as I am whenever we eliminate a mascot or a stereotype. I'm not getting big rewards for any of this, believe me.
You're beginning to sound like the apologists who claim racism isn't the problem but talking about it is. Is that your position? Then go to that posting and address the points there.
Rob the poverty fighter?
You want me to do something "real" such as fighting poverty? You understand that my background is in computers, not social work...right? If I were to "fight poverty," it probably would be in a back room somewhere managing an organization's website or database. I wouldn't be much more involved in the fight than I am now.
Let's review my skill set. The things I'm not particularly adept include: 1) anything physical; 2) organizing and managing projects; 3) raising funds; 4) working with people. Given these limitations, what employment would you suggest?
Actually, I'll give you the answer this time. I'm already doing what I do best: thinking, analyzing, and writing. Anything else would be a waste of my talents.
And I spend the final third of my time commenting on a wide range of issues: politics, race, economics, the environment, education, culture, religion, etc. I review movies, books, and other works of art to steer people to the best products. And occasionally I criticize things that deserve it.
You want me to do more? Stop challenging what I'm already doing and forcing me to defend myself. I have plenty of ideas for comic books, novels, and screenplays if only
You can argue whether my artistic efforts will help society any more than my educational efforts. But so far you don't have the shred of an argument against education as a worthwhile, effective, and noble calling. Address that first and then we'll go from there.
Coincidentally, the same day Mike posted his queries, a teacher on Facebook said she was going to show a stereotype posting to her class. This isn't a posting I originated; it's something I merely shared. But I'm a world-class disseminator of news and information, so I did my part.
So roughly 30 youngsters will be thinking about Native stereotypes in the next few days because of one of my postings. Who know...maybe it'll influence or change their thoughts on the subject. Maybe one of them will go from being a callow youth to a dedicated activist. I can think of worse legacies.
Measure that if you can, buddy.
For more cultural debates with Mike, see Stereotypes Disappear "Organically"? and Stereotypes Okay in "Cultural Commons"? For more on criticism, see Clarifying My Comments Policy and Why Does Rob Keep Criticizing?
Below: An insurmountable problem because of "cultural inertia"? Or the Stanford Indians mascot successfully eliminated in 1970?