When I met students who were categorised by the system as the best, I found many of them troublesome. When I met students who can actually think and compose meanings, many times they were failed by the system. I decided to become a teacher, it wasn't because of me admiring intelligences, but because of the trauma from stupidity.
I am aware that some people do not approve of my using the word “stupidity” as a label considering the word is too harsh and judgmental to suit the dignity of an educational enterprise. I follow Neil Postman in using the word “balderdash,”. But whether we call these forms of talk stupidity, errors, mistakes, bullshit (as Charles Weingartner said), balderdash, or anything else, what they amount to are forms of language behavior that produce unnecessary confusion, pain, and misunderstanding.
This, then, is the strategy Neil Postman proposed for educationists—that we abandon our vague, seemingly arrogant, and ultimately futile attempts to make children intelligent, and concentrate our attention on helping them avoid being stupid.
Stupidity is like sickness in that some of it we produce ourselves, like ulcers, and some of it is inflicted upon us, like smallpox; our students need protection from both.
[Postman, Neil. Conscientious Objections (p. 85). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]
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