Posted by sanityinjection on October 6, 2009
I commend to your attention today’s column by conservative commentator Thomas Sowell. Sowell, while brilliant and a fine writer, can be a bit of a crank sometimes, and this piece is no exception. He writes about his dismay in receiving a letter form a fifth-grader whose assignment was to ask a “famous person” how they would solve an important problem such as the economy:
Sowell’s main point is that the child’s teacher should be encouraging him to think for himself rather than looking to celebrities for received wisdom – and also choosing age-appropriate subject matter. After my recent post on the cult of intelligence, Sowell draws attention to the even more pervasive cult of celebrity:
Getting students used to looking to so-called “famous” people for answers is the antithesis of education as a preparation for making up one’s own mind as citizens of a democracy, rather than as followers of “leaders.”
Nearly two hundred years ago, the great economist David Ricardo said: “I wish that I may never think the smiles of the great and powerful a sufficient inducement to turn aside from the straight path of honesty and the convictions of my own mind.”
Although I do take some hope in the fact that a fifth grader from Michigan actually knows who Sowell is.