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Noam Chomsky thinks about education and intellectual problems

Multidimensional - Noam Chomsky thinks about issues of education and intellectuals
Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky, this name I first heard a long time ago, in Ho Chi Minh City, through the speech of Dr. Hoang Dung. At that time, to emphasize the great contributions of linguist Cao Xuan Hao in the field of structural linguistics, Mr. Hoang Dung talked about a meaningful scientific criticism that Mr. Cao Xuan Hao made. aimed at Chomsky. That’s what I’ve heard and that’s all I know (because I’m actually a non-linguist: read the book Phonology and Linearity Mr. Cao Xuan Hao for the third time, to be honest, I still… don’t understand anything!). But recently, after reading the book Power recognition By Noam Chomsky (translated by Hoang Van Van, edited by Dinh Hoang Thang, Tri Publishing House, 2012), I just learned that he is a leading linguist in the world in the 20th century, as well as a left-wing intellectual. America is full of commitment and has really engaged in social activities. Read Power recognitionI felt like meeting in Chomsky two people in one: an acquaintance and an enlightened person, especially when he discussed educational and intellectual problems in modern society.

Education, in a popular sense (and in a positive sense) is all the activities that society can do to make a natural people into one cultural people, and up to a certain cultural threshold, he is considered an intellectual. In modern society, education promotes its function most effectively in the school environment, from primary school to university and graduate level. Which country has an educational philosophy? correctan educational strategy correct and a system of educational activities correct, that country will produce generations of elite intellectuals, and that will be a valuable human resource for the strong and sustainable development of an entire nation. In general, that’s it.

However, through Chomsky’s observations, experiences and assessments of education and intellectuals, what has been happening in America, an economic superpower, is one of the reasons why it has become a superpower. economic strength is because it is a country with the world’s leading prestigious universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia etc…? It must be said that it is a rather pessimistic view: “Universities do not generate enough funding to support themselves from tuition fees: they are parasitic institutions that need external support, and that makes them dependent on wealthy alumni, into cooperation, and into government, groups of people with essentially the same interests. See, as long as the universities serve those interests, they are funded. If they don’t serve those interests, they start to have problems” (Id., pp. 337, 338).

With such a conditioned university environment, what will students be taught? A sarcastic description of Chomsky: “Teaches the glitz of society: what clothes you should wear, how to drink porto properly, how to have a polite conversation without having to talk about serious topics, but of course you have to show that you can talk about serious subjects if you’re not tactful when it comes to actually talking, all the things that an intellectual is supposed to behave.” (Id., page 345).

Of course, soberly and objectively, we know that training at elite universities in America isn’t all that comical, but Chomsky isn’t without reason to be cynical either. . He was convinced: “The intellectual’s responsibility is to tell the truth and expose the lies(I’m sure this is also the conviction of all the “nice” intellectuals around the world). However, American intellectuals, training products of prestigious universities in the US (by default) can do, want to do and can do so? That is a really important question. The answer is “No”. If it is “Yes”, then he is forced to pay the price, or is disabled (having to “sit and eat water” in the words of Vietnamese folk), denied the knowledge and awareness of the people. about the truths that are happening in socio-political life in the mass media and the “mainstream” publishing means, even worse things have been and are happening. Because Star so? For, with a wise eye, an in-depth look at the repositories of data (official and unorthodox) could not have been more thorough, and a radically critical spirit of the truly committed intellectual, Chomsky has recognize the nature and motivations of the domestic and foreign policy of America’s elite (at least since World War II up to now): great power, almost absolute control by corporations and transnational corporations, the goal of maximum profit by the rich on the basis of the impoverishment of the poor, blacks, Asian and Latino immigrants!

Multidimensional - Noam Chomsky thinks about intellectual and educational problems (Figure 2).

That is why, in Power recognitionChomsky exposed the mutilation, the cover-up, even the distortion of the truth in the (considered reputable) newspapers of the American press, such as Washington Post, New York Times or Wall Street Journal… and the socio-political research works of many American scholars, “people who sell themselves even when they think they’re doing the right thing“. He explained: “Powerful institutions clearly do not want to be investigated. Why are they like that? They don’t want the public to know how they operate, maybe the people inside those institutions understand how they work, but they don’t want anyone else to know, because that would threaten them. threaten and undermine their power” (Id., page 350).

From all this, Chomsky raised the question of the concept of intellectuals in social life, a concept worth considering when our country is trying to build a knowledge economy. , in which intellectuals play the leading role. What is intelligence? Are those who work in spiritual fields, the “white-collar” world, who do jobs that do not involve manual labor? No problem! Sometimes, in fact, oftentimes, it’s just cultural officials, office workers, salaried individuals to manipulate all kinds of redundant and useless paperwork. They are manipulated by visible and invisible powers. They don’t generate ideas, or if they do, they’re just petty ideas that don’t help people have a better lookor one look different something, however small, about the world and how the world works.

I say that I met Chomsky as an “acquaintance” precisely at this point: from my personal experience, I have met many journalists (by default intellectuals) who have never done journalism in the true sense, Many researchers (by default as intellectuals) spend their entire lives saying things “you know, hard work, talk forever” in research projects funded from the public budget.

Meanwhile, as Chomsky has repeatedly pointed out, many people operate in the fields of manual labor (those who are not considered intellectuals by society, of course), in order to do their jobs well. , they had to learn and have to spend an even more amount of gray matter than the above type of people, and it is useful to society. Like car repairmen: they know where the car breaks down and know how to make it work again; they have to learn, even read, to do that, reading books that even a world-renowned linguist like Chomsky wouldn’t understand. So who is the real intellectual here?

The same is true of education. It seems that the whole world, Vietnam is no exception, are complaining loudly about the decline in morality, increasing crime rate, drug use among young people, violent phenomenon. spread etc and so forth… All of these pains are/are blamed on inadequate education. Correct. But let’s ask: why do these painful things happen most of the time in what we are used to calling remote areas, culturally low-lying and economically unprofitable areas? Chomsky repeatedly asked the same questions: in America, why does it only happen in poor neighborhoods, slums, neighborhoods of blacks and Asian immigrants? Asia, Latin or Eastern Europe? Are these the types of citizens who are “long-standing, stupid, difficult to train”, the “good people inherent in their eggs”, who study forever without even memorizing the lesson? Or is there an education policy that only pays attention to the education of the children of those with large accounts in the community? bank and ignore the people who are struggling day by day to get something for their stomachs to contract? In this, the media has its “crime”.

Noam Chomsky gives us a great example: sheet New York Times published an article about the problem of “bad genes” taking the throne in the US, and part of the evidence is that intelligence test (IQ) scores have been steadily declining in recent years, children My studies are not as good as before. They explain that: “The reason is that black people, who evolved from Africa, evolved in a harsh environment, so that they evolved in a way that black mothers didn’t raise their children – and at the same time they prolific, they all lay like chickens. The result was genetic contamination in the US, and now it’s starting to show up in standardized test scores.” (Id., pp. 518, 519).

Not believing in such a priori (and somewhat… dishonest) theory, Chomsky observed: “The average person might think that the problem might have to do with social policies that pushed 40% of New York City children below the poverty line, but that issue never appeared in the papers. New York Times” (p. 518). Why? Because the journalists there (again defaulted to being intellectuals) didn’t want, or weren’t allowed to, let it appear. The payer is the one who has the right to choose the music, that’s all!

In Power recognitionIn addition to educational and intellectual issues, Chomsky also addresses many other issues, of the whole world and of the United States itself, in the fiercely critical spirit of a deeply leftist intellectual. (Left-wing intellectuals, in his view: Those who are fighting for peace, justice, freedom, human rights, social change and the removal of power structures, in their personal lives or in institutions that enslave people).

It is at this point that I identify his enlightened person. And there are a few other “harves” that the writer would like to share. First, it is an endorsement of the conviction of an old friend of mine: the world is becoming increasingly alien to man, the more one tries to understand it, the less one cannot understand it. (Take Chomsky as an example: he criticizes all existing institutions of power, but he also doesn’t seem to answer the question of whether something better can replace them? maybe?).

Second, Alexis de Tocqueville (in the book American democracy) was wrong to think that from the middle of the nineteenth century the world was no longer able to produce great personalities: because of the appearance of a scientist, a “monstrous” intellectual like Noam Chomsky in the world. 20th century is more than enough for a counter-argument. Third, this world, in the words of R. Tagor, will forever be just a “shabby paradise”, but try to make it less messy, and that is the vocation of generations of wise people. genuine consciousness.

Hoai Nam

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