Sunday, 6 August 2017

being called a nerd wasn’t always taken to be a badge of honour

Collectors’ Weekly features an in depth conversation with historian and cultural ephemera caretaker Rebecca Onion (whose name might strike some of you long-time readers as familiar as the blogger behind The Vault, part of Slate’s constellation of blogs) on her new book that critically and thoughtfully explores the fraught and precocious relation that America (and by extension other nationalities) has had with education and the sciences.
As understudies, surrogates for how society judges itself, children and how they are portrayed and reared as either very modern or paradoxically anti-modern (either as digital natives or digital naïves, something potentially pure and innocent, like a wild child) and our concerns, priorities and norms as societies are reflected in either how we encourage or begrudge not just the glamourous, swashbuckling parts of the disciplines but also those yeomen’s tasks that require years of toil and dedication, without even getting into the realm of stereotype and misogyny. The book and its subject of study couldn’t have come at a more crucial juncture with not only the accepted science behind human contribution to global warming and climate degradation being rejected but there’s also a general backlash against expertise and being an informed, stake-holding populace as well as cuts to educationally inspiring programmes. Having read about the role that mega-fauna had played in contributing to the stability of grassland not long ago, it made us angry that one of Dear Leader’s creatures of the court was supposedly trying to sell him on the idea of resurrecting a mammoth—but surely in spite of any environmental good it might do but rather to keep on display at his tacky resorts or let his horrible children hunt on safari for sport. The interview with Onion is really though-provoking and is worth reading in its entirety, which can be found at the link up top plus find out how to pick up a copy there as well.