Alfred Lubrano, “The Shock of Education: How College Corrupts” (580); Murray Milner Jr., “Freaks, Geeks, and Cool Kids” (602)
Alfred Lubrano, “The Shock of Education: How College Corrupts” (580)
One. What new value system imposes itself on working-class lifestyle?
Lubrano claims college replaces loyalty to family and friends to personal fulfillment, social obligation, pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and many other philosophical questions that are part of the Great Change.
In many ways, learning takes the students farther and father from their parents and families. Traditions are supplanted by personal lifestyle choices.
In fact, Lubrano continues to make the claim that the more distant students are from their parents the more likely they are to succeed in college. It’s as if students have to break the umbilical cord and exit the womb to achieve what Erich Fromm calls individuation, emerging as an individual as an entity separate from one’s parents. Such a process can involve a “bridge burning.”
When Lubrano came home from college, he’d eat with his family but keep his mouth shut about the new things and values he was learning because these new ideas would upset his parents, especially his father. He could not for example discuss the political theories of Karl Marx, racial equality, economic class struggle, and so on. He studied in the kitchen at night where no one would bug him.
Two. How does Lubrano describe high school?
It’s a giant, crude factory training kids to flip burgers. It’s little more than a day care center for teenagers.
Three. What are the necessary measures of the “scholarship boy”?
He must disconnect from his family. He must read alone, living a life of hibernation. He must accept that books create a “disharmony,” or strife in the family household.
Four. What is the difference of attitude that a middle-class kid has towards liberal arts education and a working-class kid?
For the working-class kid, studying liberal arts, like reading the play Macbeth, is disconnected fro reality, from money, from any kind of goal imaginable. In contrast, studying liberal arts is about many things but we’ll focus on two: Liberal arts is about advancing one’s linguistic acquisition, which is part of the language of money, class, sophistication, communication, articulation, and philosophy. Secondly, language accompanies critical thinking skills, which are important for leadership, questioning power, repelling manipulation and mind games of others, repelling groupthink (lazy, fear-induced conformist thinking), and a host of other things that advance one on the Darwinian social ladder.
Moreover, working-class kids have peer pressure to hate school, which is considered a place for effete eggheads and pencil-neck geeks.
These opposing attitudes are reinforced by the fact that teachers treat students based on their economic class, showing contempt for the poor and working class and lavishing respect on the upper class.
In working-class homes, there are implicit laws of conformity, including contempt for education.
In working-class neighborhoods, if you deviate from the norm, you're not just different; you're rejecting the community.
For working-class neighborhoods, life is centripetal; it doesn't go anywhere. In contrast, middle-class neighborhoods aspire to a centrifugal journey, which is expansive and transformative. There isn't even langauge like this in a working-class environment.
Opinions in a middle-class home are more collaborative, less conformist.
Your will in a working-class environment is imposed on others through brute force, not so in a middle-class environment as we see in the relationship between Loretta and Barry on page 586.
Essay Option from Reading the Signs, page 586, Number 2
In an argumentative essay, support, challenge, or complicate Gregg Andrews's statement that "Every bit of learning taks you further from your parents" (para. 1).
Murray Milner Jr. “Freaks, Geeks, and Cool Kids” (602)
One. What kind of hideous moral bankruptcy informs the idea that consumerism is the appropriate and patriotic response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11?
Something so glib, trivial, and self-indulgent, an endeavor that makes us ignorant of world politics and makes us vulnerable to the kind of hate that our arrogant, incontinent spending entails (colonizing Middle Eastern countries so we can have cheap gas, for example) could be equated with noble, virtuous behavior. It is obscene.
Our consumer binge is so deleterious to our moral health that we no longer contribute to a civil society. Our relations and connections with others are limited to consumer experiences, including selfies taken at restaurants for the delectation of our Facebook friends.
We have moved closer and closer to narcissism and farther and farther away from cosmopolitan citizen (an educated person who engages in healthy self-interested altruism).
We become preppies, philistines who care about status and use hard work to achieve the kind of status afforded by conspicuous consumerism, which of course takes money.
Two. How do some people alternate “disciplined hard work and genuine enjoyment of the good life as a high social accomplishment”?
They become Bobos, the merging of bourgeois and bohemian, a middle-class consumer and a countercultural subversive type, an individual who goes against the grain.
Bobos are their own insular clique, which is a lot like high school preppy cliques. Both are smug and supercilious.
Bobos are a contradiction: They embody “cosmopolitan provincialism.” They are cosmopolitans and tribalists at the same time.
Essay Option based on Reading the Signs, page 613, Number 4:
Read or reread John Verdant’s “The Ables vs. the Binges” (p. 152). Adopting Milner’s article as a critical framework, analyze the two families that the article describes. To what extent is each family “committed to the key requirements of a consumer society: high production and high consumption” (para.5)?