John Ogozalek teaches high school in upstate New York. He watched some of the GOP debate last night (his stomach is stronger than mine) and reacted to one of Marco Rubio’s memorable lines.


He writes:


“A great howler from the GOP debate last night:


“We need more welders and less philosophers…” Marco Rubio


Now I wish I could weld. Seriously. 10 years of Upstate New York winters have seriously rotted my car. And, I’ve had plenty of great students who go into trades like welding. I respect people who can do these jobs.


But, c’mon. Can Marco Rubio aim any lower?


Why can’t welders ALSO be philosophers??? (And, vice versa!)


Neil Postman wrote a great piece, a graduation speech, he never had a chance to give. I used it years ago when I taught ninth grade Global Studies.


Postman compares the Athenians, who valued wisdom and art to the Visigoths, who believed that the quest for knowledge is useless if it doesn’t give you power and money. Athenians cherished and respected the written word. In comparison, “A Visigoth’s language aspires to nothing higher than the cliche.”


Postman wrote, “And I must tell you that you do not become an Athenian merely by attending school or accumulating academic degrees. My father-in-law was one of the most committed Athenians I have ever known, and he spent his entire adult life working as a dress cutter on Seventh Avenue in New York City. On the other hand, I know physicians, lawyers, and engineers who are Visigoths of unmistakable persuasion.”


Welders CAN be Athenians. They CAN be philosophers. To say otherwise, is just to further divide our own already damaged polis.


I could only stomach part of the GOP debate. But what I saw indicated how far our nation’s ability to have a mature, civil discourse has fallen. What happened to the days when the League of Women Voters hosted serious debates in which booing and hissing was not tolerated? And, remember when Gerald Ford slipped up about communist domination of Eastern Europe, and his feet were held to the fire for the mistake? Nowadays a buffoon like Donald Trump can say anything regardless of the facts…..and his political life thrives.


No, Marco Rubio is just this year’s model…..a faster, trimmer more high tech version of the age old Visigoth pattern. Do anything for power and money even if it means dividing the people you profess to lead.


By the way…..I’m sitting here at home writing on this blog, with a day off from school. But, of course, this day is really meant to honor our veterans, past and present. It’s those veterans who deserve the credit for defending our nation against Visigoths like the Nazis. We honor them by standing up for the “better angels of our nature” -not by rolling in the political mud.


Reading Neil Postman’s great speech is one of the best ways I can honor our vets and our country. Taking part in this blog, “a site to discuss better education for all,” is another.”