Saturday, 6 April 2013

Accelerated Education

In James Blish's The Star Dwellers (London, 1979), set in 2050:

knowing the calculus is legally necessary to drive a car; 
there is a new, accelerated school curriculum;
in the V class, students are advanced as fast as they are able, regardless of school terms or years;
a seventeen year old can be a trained technician in a difficult discipline;
in the cadet system, judgement is force-matured as fast as possible in sink-or-swim situations while apprenticed to a top adult practitioner;
there is a competitive exam for the ten year foreign service cadet apprenticeship;
after two years, a foreign service cadet is apprenticed to a senior operating officer and may go into space;
at sixteen, Jack Loftus becomes senior foreign service cadet to the Secretary for Space;
the Secretary's trouble shooter, Dr Langer, has a cadet understudy, Jerry "Sandbag" Stevens;
before a space journey, Langer gives the cadets computation drill: "'Read and feed...,'" then "'...snap interpretation from the tape against the stop watch...'" (p. 37).

In the sequel, Mission To The Heart Stars (London, 1980):

Sandbag surprises Langer and Jack by retaining some of his compulsory classical language courses;
to speak in secret, Langer addresses Sandbag in Greek and, when this fails, Latin;
Jack has legal, though not conversational, knowledge of Latin;
to pass some time, Sandbag writes much of the Aeneid from memory; 
he and Langer discuss Virgil's style.

My point here is that I doubt that this much knowledge of classical languages would be retained in a technological milieu.

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