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The Decaying Evolution of Education...

SurfGent

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One of my favorite story's is about Thomas Edison. When he founded GE or what would become GE, he made the executive staff test so hard that he used to laugh to himself and said nobody with a collage degree could pass it. All from a man with over a 1000 patents who never spent a day in college
 
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vitanola

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One of my favorite story's is about Thomas Edison. When he founded GE or what would become GE, he made the executive staff test so hard that he used to laugh to himself and said nobody with a collage degree could pass it. All from a man with over a 1000 patents who never spent a day in college
That is not strictly true. He sought out and hired talented college men from the earliest date at Menlo Park, well understanding the value of the educated mind. Frances Upton was a cum laude graduate of Bowdoin who did his graduate work with Helmholtz at the Berlin Polytechnic University. Edison's chief chemist, Jonas W. Shoes worth was also a college man. Edison looked for college educated men to work in his enterprises. He could not stand, however, the man who thought his education finished when he left college, a creature that has alway been all too commonly found, particularly among recent graduates.

He did have a test, several actually. A mentor of my father's worked in his laboratory for a time in the late 'teens and had personal knowledge of such a test. The gentleman in question was extremely ambitious, and was soon cashiered by Mr Edison with the admonition "You are not cut out to work for someone el else" and an introdiction to an investor who helped set him up in this own business.

The famous tests that Edison administered were largely tests of general knowledge, covering basic science, geography, history, and literature. He divided applicants into "Class A Men", of wide general knowledge, great curiosity and quick recall, and "Class XYZ Men" intellectual laggards who were self-appointed satisfied and complacent.

Edison did alway take pleasure in figuratively tweaking the noses of college men (particularly because it made good press), and he abhorred the "XYZ type", but he certainly respected education. After all, he insisted that the children of his second family be educated. This I heard personally from this youngest son, Theodore Edison.
 

SurfGent

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That is not strictly true. He sought out and hired talented college men from the earliest date at Menlo Park, well understanding the value of the educated mind. Frances Upton was a cum laude graduate of Bowdoin who did his graduate work with Helmholtz at the Berlin Polytechnic University. Edison's chief chemist, Jonas W. Shoes worth was also a college man. Edison looked for college educated men to work in his enterprises. He could not stand, however, the man who thought his education finished when he left college, a creature that has alway been all too commonly found, particularly among recent graduates.

He did have a test, several actually. A mentor of my father's worked in his laboratory for a time in the late 'teens and had personal knowledge of such a test. The gentleman in question was extremely ambitious, and was soon cashiered by Mr Edison with the admonition "You are not cut out to work for someone el else" and an introdiction to an investor who helped set him up in this own business.

The famous tests that Edison administered were largely tests of general knowledge, covering basic science, geography, history, and literature. He divided applicants into "Class A Men", of wide general knowledge, great curiosity and quick recall, and "Class XYZ Men" intellectual laggards who were self-appointed satisfied and complacent.

Edison did alway take pleasure in figuratively tweaking the noses of college men (particularly because it made good press), and he abhorred the "XYZ type", but he certainly respected education. After all, he insisted that the children of his second family be educated. This I heard personally from this youngest son, Theodore Edison.

The 1st sentence of your reply, as well near the end about twisting the nose of college men,

Was the point I was making. Wasn't hammering down with authority that he had no college grads working for him.
Hopefully understanding the context of my post you could see the post was some tongue and cheek humor.
 

vitanola

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The 1st sentence of your reply, as well near the end about twisting the nose of college men,

Was the point I was making. Wasn't hammering down with authority that he had no college grads working for him.
Hopefully understanding the context of my post you could see the post was some tongue and cheek humor.

Oh, yes!

Even so, there are so very many myths about Edison which remain in our popular culture even now, eighty-five years after his death, that I could not stop myself from correcting one of the more common misconceptions, as toungue-in-cheek as your post might have been, for folks who don't know any better dig this stuff up on various forums and it gives them cockeyed IDEAS...;)
 

FStephenMasek

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Several years ago, a college professor here in southern California found a high school graduation test from the 1800s and give it to his college sophomores. None could pass it. Just think about life in the 1800s - no electricity, no cars, no refrigeration. Much more time was needed to eat, travel,a nd otherwise live. No think of modern schools and modern life - air conditioning, cars, computers, super markets, and so forth. It is highly unlikely that the human genome has degenerated in such a short time period, so the problem is with the schools, parents, and teachers. That is good news, as we can get back to and then beyond past levels of achievement. If we are willing to do so.
 

EngProf

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Several years ago, a college professor here in southern California found a high school graduation test from the 1800s and give it to his college sophomores. None could pass it. Just think about life in the 1800s - no electricity, no cars, no refrigeration. Much more time was needed to eat, travel,a nd otherwise live. No think of modern schools and modern life - air conditioning, cars, computers, super markets, and so forth. It is highly unlikely that the human genome has degenerated in such a short time period, so the problem is with the schools, parents, and teachers. That is good news, as we can get back to and then beyond past levels of achievement. If we are willing to do so.

There is more to this notion that just because Generation B can't pass a test from Generation A, therefore something has gone wrong with either the people or the school system.
With respect especially to science and technology, things change - often radically, and what is relevant to Generation A is much less so to Generation B, and is therefore not taught as rigorously (or at all).

To give a specific example, I finished my Ph.D. in the late eighties working on a project at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center on advanced techniques for fabricating the Space Shuttle Main Engine. High-tech, for sure...
The people (grad students) who are working now in the same lab that I worked in could not pass my qualifying exam because the technology they are using for the same basic applications has changed from a fusion-based technique (my era) to more-modern semi-solid-state diffusion methods.

They are at least as smart as we were, but the "need-to-know" has evolved. I could not pass their qualifying exams for the same reason they could not pass mine.
(This also applies to undergraduate material - people are taught what is relevant for their times.)
 

BlueTrain

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I'm surprised to learn that it took more time to eat in the 1800s. If so, perhaps they had more time than we do. My grandfather, who worked for the railroad, walked to work, which took about 20 minutes. I drive to work and it takes about 40 minutes. My father also drove to work and it took about five minutes. I conclude that the 1950s were the high point of our civilization.

It is a little misleading to say more time was needed for everything in the 1800s. Yes, it took weeks to cross the Atlantic and days to cross the country (after the railroads were completed coast to coast) but few traveled like that and so it's irrelevant. In fact, few travelled at all. I've been to Europe three times myself but even that may not be so common now. At any rate, many things have changed in the last, say, 150 years, but we still have the same amount of time.

One big change in the last hundred years, which would be even greater the further back you go, is that more people are being schooled. My father never finished grade school. In the 1800s few attended college and high school was not exactly the norm. What has happened in so many words is that we are continually raising the standards. Even with standardized testing, the tests are made more difficult every year and the object remains to show improvement in test scores. The ultimate goal, apparently, is for everyone to be above average.
 

Harp

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.... a semi truck driver I knew who, among other virtues, lived and breathed Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau.. and could quote either at length.

There is a consonance with Whitman's languid sensuality and Thoreau introspection; something that aggravated Henry James whose patrician scowl
excoriated Walt Whitman, a scold similar to that of Oscar Wilde and tinged with envy.
Red Sox catcher Moe Berg could recite Poe at length-not too surprising-considering Moe a similar lost soul.
 
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SurfGent

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Looking back at this thread seems I was censored. My response 2 tovitanola deleted. Why, it wasn't vulgar or out of line.
 

Inkstainedwretch

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This is especially true of recent history. When I look at current history textbooks I'm disheartened that events that were deemed crucially important when I was in school, such as the World Wars and the Depression, are given short shrift while things that were everyday matters to me, like the civil rights struggle, are emphasized. Then I reflect that almost one-third of U.S. history has happened since I was born. There is a lot more U.S. history to learn than there was when I was in school.
 

Harp

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This is especially true of recent history. When I look at current history textbooks I'm disheartened that events that were deemed crucially important when I was in school, such as the World Wars and the Depression, are given short shrift while things that were everyday matters to me, like the civil rights struggle, are emphasized. Then I reflect that almost one-third of U.S. history has happened since I was born. There is a lot more U.S. history to learn than there was when I was in school.

When I worked for the Veterans Administration regional counsel's office reviewing criminal assault and work compensation liens I received an interesting email memo one morning
regarding six or seven women who were currently receiving pensions because their husbands had fought in the Civil War.
 

vitanola

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Looking back at this thread seems I was censored. My response 2 tovitanola deleted. Why, it wasn't vulgar or out of line.
what was your response? I did not see it, but would very much like to read it. PM it to me, if you would, and we can continue this interesting discussion, if you like.
 

LizzieMaine

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When I worked for the Veterans Administration regional counsel's office reviewing criminal assault and work compensation liens I received an interesting email memo one morning
regarding six or seven women who were currently receiving pensions because their husbands had fought in the Civil War.

As of this week, there's still one active Civil War pension account on the books.

Interesting chart attached to the linked article --- the number of surviving US veterans of WWII is now below 150,000, which has to rank as a suitable addition to the Disturbing Realizations thread. It Is Later Than We Think.

Even more astonishing, WWII pension benefits are being paid to 10 surviving *parents* of WWII veterans.
 

LizzieMaine

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The 93-year-old daughter of a Civil War veteran from North Carolina -- a man who fought first for the Confederates and then switched sides to fight for the Union. The beneficiary's mother was fifty years younger than the veteran, which was apparently not an uncommon situation in the 1910s and 1920s -- a lot of grizzled old Civil War types married young women who were interested in the security offered by those pension checks. The veteran in this case was 83 years old when the surviving daughter was born.
 

LizzieMaine

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Indeed. And a lot of these 20th Century "Civil War Brides" were young teenagers, which would make it seem even more salacious and creepy by modern-day standards -- imagine a 14-year-old girl marrying a World War II vet today, and the internet would explode. But at the time, especially in rural areas, where most of these marriages seem to have happened, it doesn't seem to have raised all that many eyebrows.
 

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