“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Let's Try Surviving One More Time With Feeling, Maybe This Time It'll Work Out

Nice one, mostly. (It's an anti-STEM editorial. Good.) Problem:

For most of human history, all education was skills-based. Hunters, farmers and warriors taught their young to hunt, farm and fight. But about 2,500 years ago, that changed in Greece, which began to experiment with a new form of government: democracy.

That isn't right at all. For most of human history there wasn't this modern distinction between “skills” and everything else. Is thanking the animal you just killed part of the skill of hunting or part of the religion candy you sprinkle on your skill? Can you see why asking this question is already assuming a distinction that has a history, a horizon, a set of beliefs and practices?

We are the first generation of people who have assumed that agrilogistics can be boiled down to its most simplistic protocols aka pure computation based on scientism and ready-meal-level utilitarianism. Agrilogistics 9.0 will destroy Earth even more efficiently than the previous upgrades. STEM is a symptom of agrilogistics 9.0.

Republicans want to defund non-STEM things because they bloody well know they are dangerous--to Republicanism as currently defined.

But the bigger question is, why bundle these disciplines together, and why call them the stem of education? Skills are how you handle your world, but you need a world to handle in the first place. Finding out what that is, whether you like it and what to do about making one you do like is the job of non-STEM domains. STEM refers to twigs.

Bigger. What on earth is “technology” anyway? And “science” imagined in the same breath as “technology” and “engineering”? What is “math”--is it knowing what numbers are, or is it (this is a rhetorical question) knowing how to differentiate with respect to x?

The key to the editorial is its emphasis on fear. We have STEM because we are desperate to survive. But as we know if we study it, survival mode has been really successful--at killing things.

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