Re: Broadening the Problem

Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Wed, 15 Jun 1994 14:38:23 +1000

Douglas B Hanson writes:
> This reminds me of current raft of publications on the topic of what you
> should know to be "culturally literate". After having glanced through a few
> of these, I usually find myself residing on the low end of the literacy
> scale somewhere. I suppose that another such book dealing with the the
> field of anthropology will tell me how ignorant of the field I really am -
> yeah I guess I could use that knowledge. So, once I have found out that I
> am are anthropologically illiterate as well as culturally illiterate, what
> do I do? ;-)

I'm rather dubious about lists of requirements for being "culturally
literate". I can imagine two people, both of whom would have to
be considered culturally literate, whose reading doesn't include a
*single* book in common. (Even if both people are English speaking;
it's easy otherwise.) So it *may* still be suprising to discover that
someone hasn't read any Shakespeare at all - it is certanly no longer
reasonable to assume people have read his entire corpus of plays.

The set of physics facts that I see as absolutely essential is close to
nil - does it really affect someone's ability to live happily/usefully
if they think the world is flat? - but I see anthropology as much
more important; since most people are confronted by a plurality
of cultures in everyday life, I think at least basic anthropology
should be compulsory in high school. (They don't teach anthropology
as such *at all* in schools here, though a bit creeps in as history;
what is the situation in the U.S.?)

I'm pretty sure you'd have the sort of basic knowlege I am talking

Danny Yee.