STATE OF EDUCATION: Little Johnny Catches On

Written by Steve Bowers on August 25, 2014

I was feeling depressed recently. Even though I doubt I had reached a “clinical” depth of sadness, it was pretty rotten. I was getting creeped out just watching the complete ineffectualness of the current Administration regarding the St. Louis rioting and race-baiting with the usual suspects, Christian children being beheaded in Iraq by ISIS, Obama’s golf scores remaining unimproved and too many other crisis scenarios to enumerate with the space I have here. I think the situation with this Administration is so bad that Obama’s speech writers have run out of dumb things for him to say. (By the way…I think the word “administration” is inaccurate because it brings inherent positive connotations and causes certain expectations in the voters, all of which have been cruelly dashed just about everywhere…so I intend to refer to the Obama crowd running our country as the “Frat Party” from now forward.)

But back to my depressed state of mind. (It is, after all, all about me. And haven’t we all learned by now, from Oprah and other hucksters, that feelings are more important than facts, truth or our fellows…so back to my feelings, O.K.?)

Just when I was thinking there is light at the end of the tunnel in November, I got a solicitation call from my cell company. Some pleasant and perky young woman began telling me they have a terrific deal for me since my contract is up. After a few perky explanations about the new contract and free phones available to me, I interrupted her and told her I thought her employer is the worst service provider I have ever suffered with, next to my bank (and, impliedly, every credit card company I use). She paused for a moment, but quickly plunged back in to her spiel, undeterred. (I had the admire her chutzpah.)

After a minute or two I again interrupted her by telling a story about how a few years ago I had tried two new “smart phones.” I explained how the original salesman had lied to me about how good the service would be and how my old data would transfer right over to the new phones, etc. None of his scripted verbiage was true. I then explained how I had spent each Sunday afternoon for the next month (during the “no questions asked” return period) in the local store trying to get the phones to work. I explained how angry I had been two years ago and I apologized because I could feel my anger growing again.

Ms. Perky then did the classy thing and apologized (probably scripted) for the things the sales guy had done those two years ago. She said “you shouldn’t blame him since he was probably just doing what he had been told.” I interrupted her again and reminded her Adolph Eichmann had used the same ploy to escape responsibility for his crimes. She went silent. It was obvious history was the “deep end” for her. After the silent pause had gotten long enough to make me mindful of wasting time I asked her if she knew who Eichmann was. “No.” Another poignant pause. Then I asked her if she had attended a public school. She again waited before finally responding affirmatively.

A friend of mine likes to say, “I don’t have time to fill in the gaping voids of your education” when debating some point requiring a minor allusion to some well-known historic or scientific or logical item.  He also delights in explaining how any simpleton can ask a question that may require hours for a wise man to answer. (This should be obvious, but often isn’t …as when some low brow type asks a rudimentary question and adopts a supercilious and condescending expression when you have to take a deep breath before answering his “If there’s a God, then why does [   fill in the blank    ] happen?” This sort of question requires a long answer, which is usually not really what the questioner wanted. The truth is that if a guy has to ask really rudimentary questions and has been around for a while without doing his own research and study, he is probably only a few notches above the local village idiot. Simple questions by adults are usually not inherently asked by smart people. Intelligence doesn’t work that way.

I didn’t have time to fill in the voids in Perky’s education that day. So I asked her to call back since her offer was interesting. But I couldn’t take anymore. I explained quickly that Eichmann had been the main architect of Hitler’s Final Solution. There was no hint of recognition. I thought how my Dad’s generation had invested so much blood ridding the world of the Nazis. How my Mom’s childhood sweetheart had been killed in Sicily. How my Dad’s favorite first cousin had been killed by a German sniper in Belgium. How my Dad and his big brother had fought against Imperial Japan (with Dad’s brother, Uncle Walt, working as a cook’s mate, except when the ship he was on was offloading tanks onto Pacific beaches with little armor and no gunnery…and he was doing the off loading).

Then I thought about how poorly we teach our kids in our schools. I thought about how a friend had told me she had given up having parent-teacher conferences to discuss how little Johnny is doing poorly in math…because the parents don’t understand basic math any better than Johnny.

But I decided not to worry because all will be well. In spite of the Frat Party.


Steve Bowers
Steve Bowers grew up on a farm in Indiana, attended Indiana University and went into the construction business. While working on a construction project at a law school he was appalled at how lawyers could screw stuff up on a simple building project. Thinking he could do better, Steve went to law school. He’s pretty naive.