Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More Money Than Brains - Laura Penny

More Money Than Brains: Why School Sucks, College Is Crap and Idiots Think They're Right
Laura Penny
McClelland & Stewart
Copyright: April 20, 2010

The amazon.com product description:
One of Canada's funniest and most incisive social critics reveals why in North America, where governments spend so much on schools and colleges, training is valued far more than education and loud-mouth ignoramuses are widely and publicly celebrated.
Public education in the United States is in such pitiful shape, the president wants to replace it. Test results from Canadian public schools indicate that Canadian students are at least better at taking tests than their American cousins. On both sides of the border, education is rapidly giving way to job training, and learning how to think for yourself and for the sake of dipping into the vast ocean of human knowledge is going distinctly out of fashion.

It gets worse, says Laura Penny, university lecturer and scathingly funny writer. Paradoxically, in the two nations that have among the best universities, libraries, and research institutions in the world, intellectuals are largely distrusted and yelping ignoramuses now clog the arenas of public discourse.

A brilliant defence of the humanities and social sciences, More Money Than Brains takes a deadly and extremely funny aim at those who would dumb us down. 
 First off, the description is absolutely right. This is an incredibly funny read. I picked it up based on the title and the jacket description, and boy, am I glad I did. Laura Penny is equally hard on both ends of the spectrum, both Liberal and Conservative or Republican and Democrat, depending on which country you're in. More Money Than Brains should be of equal interest to both Canadians and Americans, as she looks at the situation in both countries.

Some of the things she mentions, including direct quotes are enough to make you cringe, but she does it in a very humorous way - probably a requirement so you don't end up completely furious. Still, this is a book to be taken seriously and thought about although there are no real solutions suggested.

Personally, being a reader and having one of the 'useless' arts degrees the author is defending, I can definitely see the book's point. I took Medieval Studies and Classical Studies because that's what I'm interested in, but I've certainly found myself falling into the trap of "now what do I do with this degree?" more than once.

Definitely a book worth the read. And I'm now going to have to hunt down Laura's previous books. If they're as good as this one they'll be well worth reading.

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