Time Magazine Was Right

Just last year, TIME Magazine named You as their person of the year. Yes, you.

Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I’m not going to watch Lost tonight. I’m going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I’m going to mash up 50 Cent’s vocals with Queen’s instrumentals? I’m going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?

The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME’s Person of the Year for 2006 is you.

I was skeptical. Sure, you can occasionally sift through the online dross and discover gold. But Sturgeon’s Law hasn’t been repealed. 90% of everything is crud, and that percentage might be higher on the Internet.

Then I began seeing evidence that user-generated content and aggregated effort could work wonders. Joshua Micah Marshall set the readers of Talking Points Memo to searching the Justice Department’s 3,000 pages of information on the potentially political dismissal of U.S. attorneys. People figured out the lonelygirl15 hoax. The lolcat phenomenon took off.

And now I have proof positive that You, by which I mean all of us schlubs on the Internet, are the future of media and democracy. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you High School: A Big Waste of Time, by Bambi, as seen on Associated Content.

The article starts out promisingly by undermining any point it might make:

The following article is based on my own high school experience and may or may not be what you experienced or how your high school may have been set up.

It takes off from there. The article discusses how “[m]any teachers seem to be just that, teachers, not teachers.” It explains how school is all about things you don’t need for real life, like Algebra 2. And finally:

In addition, I’ve been out of school for not even 6 months now. I can’t think of a single thing that I remember.

Associated Content, with your user-generated content about school and The Infamous Pike Place Market and The Truth About Bottled Water, you have shown me the future.

6 thoughts on “Time Magazine Was Right

  1. Okay, I read those. I think I’m stupider now. Maybe if I read them again it’ll make sense.

  2. Bambi makes six points in her editorial.

    1. 5 minutes between classes is wasted time.
    2. 30 minutes of classtime out of 45 was wasted on talking.
    3. Many teachers don’t treat teaching as a calling.
    4. Regardless of whether a teacher was just drawing a paycheck or was truly involved, some were good and some were bad.
    5. A lot of subjects like Algebra 2 aren’t used in life.
    6. Six months out of high school, the author remembers nothing that she learned.

    The thinking behind point 1 is akin to saying, “I spend 10 minutes a day brushing my teeth. That’s almost 60 hours of teeth-brushing every year. Think of how much time I’d save if I didn’t brush my teeth!” Regardless of whether time between classes is spent moving between classrooms or in down-time in the same classroom, students need time to switch gears, and eliminating that time will be harmful.

    Though I expect point 2 is exaggerated, it’s a valid complaint. There are teachers who spend a lot of time disciplining ineffectively.

    To point 3: why should teaching be a calling when so many other jobs aren’t? I suspect we treat teaching as a calling so that teachers will accept poor treatment and low pay. Teachers or teachers, what I want is competence.

    That leads to point 4, which is quite valid.

    To point 5, school shouldn’t be reduced to vocational training. While “real-world skills” are useful, they’re not the big thing school has to offer or should offer. School should help students learn to think and should provide the information necessary for them to be informed citizens. You may not use the concept of the US government’s separation of powers in your day-to-day life, but I want voters and citizens who know and understand that concept.

    Point 6 is, I think, what underlies all of this. The author feels she didn’t learn anything at school. Some of that is undoubtedly due to her teachers, but in the end the responsibility lies with her. Like all endeavors, what you get out of school is primarily determined by what you put in.

    If I ignore point 6 as being a personal observation, by my score she gets 2 out of 5, for a grade of 40%. Even in her evidently benighted high school, I doubt that’s a passing grade.

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