Monday, October 15, 2012

Is D.C. the Best-Educated Big City in America?

If, like me, you spend a lot of time shaking your head at the ludicrous antics of Congress in general and many of its individual members in particular*, you may be surprised at this article from the October 10th issue of the Washington Post - Study: D.C. Is the Best-Educated Big City in America.

Yes, Dear Readers, as counterintuitive as it may often seem, the population of the Washington, DC metro area is - according to a study conducted for First 5 LA - better educated than the population of any other city in America of comparable size. While DC public schools are not considered to be very good, the metro area benefits from the presence of suburbs with excellent school systems and from a large population of highly-educated employees of the federal government and the many corporations and think tanks that are headquartered in the area.

I know from personal experience that there are a lot of really brilliant people working in the government and the vast array of organizations and businesses that support it. I marvel every day at the quality of the people with whom I am privileged to work and with whom I can exchange ideas. But I also know from routine experience that "level of education" does not always equal "level of practical, applied smarts." A look at our hopelessly dysfuctional Congress and at the corruption-ridden DC city government clearly shows that.

Education, when not leavened by common sense and practical applicability, not only is not very useful, but can be downright dangerous. The sage who first said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing knew whereof he spoke.

This reminds me of a very interesting talk I once heard by General Al Gray, the crusty former Commandant of the Marine Corps. In it, he said that he liked to use the "7-11 Test" for ideas presented to him ... that is, if he thought a proposed idea would make sense to an average person buying a coffee or a Big Gulp at the local 7-11, it probably had merit.

I think Congress would be wise to use some form of General Gray's 7-11 test, rather than relying on "unbiased studies" done by well-educated policy wonks at obscurely-named organizations with hidden agendas, or on telephone surveys of carefully-selected people designed to produce a desired result.

A good education is a gift to be treasured, and a truly well-educated person is one who understands how little he really knows.

And by that yardstick, there aren't very many well-educated persons in DC.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* I'm thinking about Republican Representative Paul Broun of Georgia - a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, no less - who recently said, "All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell." I think we're in trouble.


Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Very interesting and provocative article.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

-- Alaxander Pope

Amanda said...

The most annoying people to meet and have conversations with are those that seem to know 'everything' about any topic that you bring up. They don't even pause long enough to check if the person they are speaking with is a genuine expert on the subject.

Duckbutt said...

Several people in higher education aew willing to done the mantle of Expert About Everything.

Kristen Lavransdrittsekkdatter said...

It's very likely metro D.C. is the best-educated city in America.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I know first hand how the education of people who live here is of the utmost important thing to them. It drives me bonkers. Oh how they must tell you in every convesation what degrees they have I actually had one such numbnut at a cocktail party say that the kid his daughter was dating was beneath her. He had a great job etc. However he felt this kid will never get anywhere because he only had a 4 year degree. He said it like the kid was illiterate. He said it with such contempt.

And since i only have a 4 yr degree I am looked upon as less than. It's all so silly. All this puffed up self importance. DC does wear this label proudly.
I have seen it in job interviews as well as people I meet.
I just feel badly for those that think their MBA or PHD means something that they can hold over others. Just goes to show you how dumb they really are.

Big Sky Heidi said...

Some people tend to be degree proud; especially if they got one from a name brand institution.

John said...

Mike said...

So my 'some college' wouldn't go over real big in DC?

Bilbo said...

Elvis - I agree...I thought it was fascinating.

Angelique - Quoting Alexander Pope! I'm impressed!

Amanda - There are plenty of those types here in Disneyland-on-the-Potomac!

Duck - Right! See my comment to Amanda above.

Kristen - In terms of absolute level of education, yes; in terms of true intelligence and practical smarts, not so much.

Peggy - I know a lot of abysmally stupid PhD's. Never look down on "just" a four-year degree!

Heidi - Don't get me started on that one! I've had plenty of ass clowns from Ivy League schools snicker at my education sources.

John - can't watch the You Tube video from here, unfortunately.

Mike - There are places around here where "some college" ranks just as high as "bachelor's degree" ...if you don't have a master's or a PhD, there are people who think you're the equivalent of a high-school dropout.

Banana Oil said...

There's a difference between D.C. and the 'burbs.