Friday, June 20, 2003

Haiku and TAFE (and intellectual snobbery) AND "Agadoo"

The above four-phase
Freeform headline, full of “ands”
Is too obvious

A jolly bitter rant, self-conciously verging on intellectual snobbery, by D-squareddigest against the haiku, is here. (scroll to Tuesday, June 17, 2003, “Education stew. Parody of true expression; no more poetry”).

Personally, I fail to see any signs of intellectual snobbery in the argument; of which’s keystone seems to be this Gramsci-esque statement:

I blame modern society for being set up in such a way as to systematically reward the business of distracting people from what they might be capable of into formulaic and uninteresting, but socially acceptable commodified forms.

Or I am wrong, and is Gramsci in with the fusty “elite”, these days? It’s hard to tell – accusations of “witch”, once unleashed, are as contagious and irresistible as writing bad haiku. (The contagious yawn is a closely-related phenomenon, though rather more benign than naming witches or writing-bad-poetry-as-triumph).

And non-vocational TAFE courses, it seems, are the witch de jour for Education Minister Brendan Nelson. Now Blind Freddie could tell you that almost all education funding in Australia comes down to the “bums on seats” model. Meaning that there is a big incentive to teach “cheap” courses, which require little infrastructure (including libraries), or course materials/tools. Teaching wannabe chefs fruit-carving instead is a classic example.

So how Dr Nelson can turn this around, and blame the institutions for merely being economically rational*, is rather telling. Only four days ago he was calling on blue-collar workers to cultivate a rage against the university-educated, and now this clarion call (without any actual promise of $$) to redress Australia’s “chronic skills shortages in traditional blue-collar jobs” – which, of course, means an intention for lower blue-collar wages in future.

Seems anyway you can’t win. Or maybe Dr Nelson’s newfound animosity towards “the chippies and the boilermakers and the mechanics down the road in Penrith” will prove to be a fit of short-lived pique. After all, with Phil Ruddock continuing to stink up the Liberal nest the party room plumbing bills, for what’s now an almost-daily unblocking exercise, must be a fright.

* TAFE Institutions obviously aren’t in it for the credibility, or public goodwill, when they run courses on feng shui and tarot cards.

Update 22 June 2003

D-Squared's link between haiku and "Agadoo" is priceless, Good Comedy. I demand that the Oslo-grim Nobel Prize and the euro-roaming Eurovision Song Contest be swapped around, and D-Squared then be given an award under the rubric of one or the other of them.

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