You are Sixteen Going on Seventeen – Baby, It’s Time to Think

I haven’t posted for a month, and I am disappointed with myself. May was incredibly busy: work was overwhelming, and I was invited and attended a variety of graduations and commencements –  both high school and college.

I spent some delightful time with 16 and 17-year-olds, and heard their perspectives. These teenagers are pretty grounded. Practical are they, and fairly realistic. Yes, there is the occasional delusional one. They are facing major rites of passage: getting into college, leaving home for the first time, and trying to afford college. We had numerous conversations about all this, and I am appalled at what it costs to go to college in this country. And, there’s no guarantee that you come out knowing any more than when you entered.

Three of the kids were in the midst of taking their SATs, and they showed me the “new” SAT “book.” A revelation. There are no grammar or vocabulary sections as in the past, just endless, grindingly dull reading passages that are more an endurance test than any measure of…whatever this is supposed to measure. I read a few and there were questions that I wondered, and am still wondering, what in the name of God does this measure? I couldn’t find any scholarly or intellectual connection. I’m reaching the conclusion that it’s preparation – education be damned – to turn unsuspecting young people into industry fodder. Drones. If you can get through the test, probably take it numerous times, and if you don’t crack – you go to college and then get a job working for The Man where you spend the next many years paying off loans.

I also noticed a fair amount of propaganda in some of the SAT passages. I read one on fracking that implied that it’s a good thing, that there isn’t evidence yet to connect it to earthquakes in areas where they were never earthquakes, or with tap water that comes out in flames or dark brown. It’s all great! Another was on big pharma and GMOs and how much good they do. Jesus! These sweet kids receive these messages, and how are they to know there may be another point of view? Aside that this is all crap –  it isn’t even well-written mind control. There is one nod to literature: the first passage. That’s it! From what I can tell it is usually 19th Century: Dickens, Stevenson, Trollope, Shelley…none of whom these kids know.

I found all this unutterably discouraging and felt sincerely sorry for our future leaders. Plus they live in the suburbs which I am beginning to think is not as wonderful as one would think. It’s too sheltered and sanitized. How does one acquire any life skills? I am so grateful to my parents and our upbringing: we saw the world, we lived in it, and the thirst and love for knowledge was for knowledge’s sake. I see more and more how rare our experience was and how fortunate.

Okay, so not everyone gets to have that. Well, I would pick one of these kids who demonstrates a little gumption, and hand them a pile of money (how I would have the money is not a detail in this fantasy), say nearly a quarter of a million dollars, which is what I imagine the average cost would be for four years including travel, room and board, etc. I would put the pile of money into his/her hands and say, “Here, go travel the world, have meetings with remarkable people, have adventures, shed your middle class morality, spend time in Paris, Hong Kong, a brothel in Tangiers, kayak down a Tibetan gorge. Live!”

And then come back and question authority. Now that is an education.

“You are sixteen going on seventeen
Baby, you’re on the brink…”

Clare Irwin

 

 

 

 

Lyrics from The Sound of Music, by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

 

Day 1

Welcome! I can’t say for sure what this site will be except that it will be about everything and anything and nothing much at all. I thought to start like a good blogger and begin at the beginning, and explain the name and  genesis of the site. I think I will save that for another time, and do what has been traditional for millennia and begin in the middle of things. Life is messy and disorganized so why should PHANOT (that is how I refer to the site) be any different?

Sunflower I was going to write about my recent experience of going to car dealerships to talk about leasing or buying a car. If you are a woman it may be 2016 out there – but it’s 1950 inside that dealership. I don’t care high high or low on the car scale you are searching. I encountered some odd frustrating and downright insulting incidents. However, the events of last night in Nice, France on Bastille Day are hanging heavy on my heart. I lived in France, in Paris, years ago. I was in love with a man, or thought I was, who had a house there. I remember my/our time there as safe and lovely and all the adjectives that are used to describe Paris. It was the Paris of Amelie not of Charlie Hebdo.

It’s too sad, beyond words what happened yesterday — while people were jubilant and enjoying the summer night. I know I shall take a minute, and more, today and give thanks that at least right now we are safe, and with our hearts and minds send our mercy and our higher selves to the people of France.

I am happy you have come to stop here for a bit I hope you share something with me and do return. Tomorrow will be something completely different. Humming La  Marseillaise…..

Clare Irwin

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