Day by Day

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Intellectuals

There's a couple of posts up that had me thinking. Kim du Toit on Intellectuals, and Og on not being a "degreed" engineer.

Part of the reason that this is sticking in my head is the fact that I need to get a degree. I don't have one at this time. Not even an Associates. Zip. Zilch. Nada. And if I want to earn any more promotions, I need to prove that I can educate myself.

Kim du Toit's post relates to why modern "Intellectuals" can't stand the military. It's well worth the read. Og's post is a response to some idiot who sneers over a lack of a degree or some such rot. Both of these topics tie in to my mindset right now. Let me start with du Toit's post, in which he writes:

But I think he’s missed the most crucial reason why intellectuals despise and oppose the military so much: while it is possible for soldiers to be intellectuals (Holmes himself being an excellent example), it’s a lot harder for intellectuals to employ the qualities of physical grit, physical self-sacrifice and selflessness that the most ordinary PFC would regard as commonplace—and those things they cannot themselves perform, they would attempt to minimize or destroy in others.

What I think he misses is the fact that many of the Military leadership ARE intellectuals, of a sort. If you want to make Sergeant First Class, you need at least a BA or BS. My Command Sergeant Major needed a Master's Degree in order to get promoted. The days of "Officers are educated, Enlisted are dumb grunts" are long over. There are plenty of instances where a fresh LT comes into a platoon and the Platoon Sergeant has more education than the officer does. Due to the fact that my wife is the Mayor of our Housing Area, I have had the chance to speak with the Garrison Commander on many an occasion. The man is an intellectual, a TRUE intellectual, in that not only does he have a wealth of education and knowledge, he puts it to practical use. He's not some Ivory Tower twit, who learns out of book and has no idea how to relate it to real life. He has studied military history, theology, mathematics, and he puts what he learned to use in day to day life. It's not just possible for soldiers to be intellectuals, many of them ARE, and they are intellectuals in ways that the academicians cannot fathom.

Now, for Og's post:

No, I’m not a “degreed” engineer. I wouldn’t consider myself one, because with rare exception, most engineers I know couldn’t find their ass with a geiger counter.

As for the ‘tradesmen” you see, Jimmy boy, “Hanging around the unemployment office”, if they’re any good they’re working, simple as that. Ever make a kitchen cabinet, Jim? hang a sheet of drywall? wire an electrical outlet? Change a water pump? Lay a hardwood floor? You can’t wipe your ass without the “tradesmen” you scoff at.
This post ties in with my lack of a degree. NOT a lack of education. When I was pulling up my promotion checklist, trying to see if I could even sniff at making rank, I tallied up all the credit hours I have from Army Correspondance Courses, classes, training, and anything else that counts as "education". Now, how many credit hours do you need for an Associates Degree? Most estimates I've seen are anywhere from 70 to 150 credit hours, depending on the field. Not semester hours now, but credit hours. If there's someone out there who would like to correct my numbers, go ahead and leave a comment, but this is what I've seen while digging around.

So, 70-150 credit hours for an Associates. Anyone want to guess how many credit hours I've completed in Army education?

My last tally from Correspondance Courses alone was 241 credit hours. That doesn't count the classes I've taken that don't count as Army Correspondance, such as the Unit Safety Officer Course, Laser Marksmanship Training System, or the Standard Army Maintanence System course. And the correnspondance courses I've taken cover all areas. Math. English. Leadership. History. Presentation. Public Speaking. Tactics. I took one course on Packing and Preservation (since I'm a Quartermaster) that covered every last detail of packing and shipping goods. Down to the type of nail you have to use for certain loads, and when to use bracing vs. blocking, or what level of protection you have to use for certain products. I have taken classes in order to advance my knowledge of my job, and the additional duties that get handed down to me. As an NCO, you have to know what the hell you're doing, because if you're screwing things up the troops will know it, and they will not respect you or follow you. When you get promoted to the level of a Non-Commissioned Officer, you have to go to school. Not just once, but for each higher level as well. The Army doesn't want someone who is uneducated. Two-hundred and forty-one credit hours. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I have six different courses lined up to take once I finish my current assignment, "Training Management and Common Soldier Skills". It's my job to train soldiers and keep them proficient. I am taking the steps I need to be able to do so.

So I don't have a degree. Is there anyone out there who would consider me uneducated? I certainly don't, after looking at the classes I've taken. And while I might not be able to discuss the philisophical differences between Voltaire and Hobbs, I believe I can do something more valuable. I can take what I've learned, and apply it to real world situations. Most modern "intellectuals" would be worse than worthless in the real world, away from their Ivory Towers.

Don't believe me? Look at how many Academic "intellectuals" espouse Communism as their perfect system of government. THAT ought to tell you something about the modern "intellectual" in a nutshell.

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