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Mozart in the Jungle

Posted By: pianoloverus

Mozart in the Jungle - 09/16/12 08:30 PM

Has anyone read this book about the lives of professional classical musicians by professional oboist Blair Tindall? I'm almost finished with it and have very mixed feelings about it.

There are many fascinating stories, and I happen to live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where much of the story takes place. On the other hand, Tindall seems to endlessly comlplain about her life a a classical musician and goes into far more detail about her personal life than I really want to hear. She doesn't use "changed names" for the numerous musicians she hooked up with both short and long term.

http://www.mozartinthejungle.com/
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Jungle-Drugs-Classical-Music/dp/0802142532
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blair_Tindall
Posted By: Mark_C

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/16/12 09:26 PM

I flipped through a number of the reviews on Amazon (which I think often gives a good fix on a book), and judging from what I see there, I'm both interested and not interested: sort of interested in some of the details (like "who") grin but not enough to delve into it and find out. From what I gather, this isn't a story about music as much as a story about a New York subculture (at least in a certain era and probably beyond) and a certain kind of person, and I'm sure it's been present in many other places too. I think there have been a lot of such lives in many different career fields, and among people with no particular career. I also think that it's not true in any general way that a classical music career is the kind of sordid desperate hellhole that some of the reviews state as a given and which I guess the book suggests.
Posted By: beet31425

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/16/12 09:40 PM

Originally Posted by Mark_C
I flipped through a number of the reviews on Amazon (which I think often gives a good fix on a book), and judging from what I see there, I'm both interested and not interested: sort of interested in some of the details (like "who") grin but not enough to delve into it and find out. From what I gather, this isn't a story about music as much as a story about a New York subculture (at least in a certain era and probably beyond) and a certain kind of person, and I'm sure it's been present in many other places too. I think there have been a lot of such lives in many different career fields, and among people with no particular career. I also think that it's not true in any general way that a classical music career is the kind of sordid desperate hellhole that some of the reviews state as a given and which I guess the book suggests.


I looked through this book at a bookstore a couple years ago, and this was my sense too. I put it down.

-J
Posted By: Kreisler

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/16/12 09:53 PM

I've only read bits and pieces, but my take is that it's basically a decent book, but the picture it paints is a bit extreme and often taken out of context.

I think there's an idealized view among a lot of people that orchestras and colleges always hire the best people for the job, but it's not that simple. There are personalities and politics involved. Life isn't fair, and neither is life in the arts.

I think people also forget that the book is talking about life in New York City in the 1970s. Things were a little different back then!

The book could've painted a more balanced picture, though. Sure, there's still sexual and political drama in the music world these days, but there are also a lot of extremely honest musicians with a lot of integrity.

If there's one way in which the arts are a bit different than other fields, it's that it's often difficult for artists to draw a line between their personal and professional lives. Especially for those of us who freelance, you can't leave work behind at the office at 5pm, and job security is a constant worry. (Which is why there are 50-100 applicants for every little college job that comes open.) When you freelance, you're always working with new people and being thrown into unfamiliar situations that require you to adapt, and some people handle that better than others.

As for my own experience, I've sat on plenty of audition and job search committees, and the vast majority of them were conducted very professionally. Also, none of the various gigs with orchestras and theater groups I've landed ever involved drunken drug orgies. (Or maybe I just wasn't invited!) laugh
Posted By: DameMyra

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/17/12 12:37 AM

I've read it a few years back. I remember the writing being very good for a memoir. Remember, it is just one person's (Blair Tindal) take on her personal experience in the professional classical music scene.
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/17/12 12:45 AM

I preferred "Team of Rivals."
Posted By: Peter K. Mose

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/17/12 07:25 AM

I thought "Mozart in the Jungle" was a fine read, and I commend oboist Ms. Tindall for having had the courage to name names and tell true stories from the ultra-competitive US classical music performance front, even at her own expense. Her tender yet tortured relationship with the distinguished collaborative pianist Sam Sanders (whose demise is recounted in moving detail) is one of the bright spots in a sordid coming-of-age memoir.

Kreisler's dates, I might observe, are rather off: Blair Tindall was writing about her years as a Manhattan School student and then busy NY freelance woodwind player during the 1980s and 1990s. She made her NY recital debut in 1991, and left NYC in 1999 to attend journalism grad school at Stanford, in a bid to switch careers from music to writing. I believe she straddles both fields nowadays.

She's a fluent journalist, good with facts, and can tell a story. The sex and drugs vignettes abound and are sometimes fun, but the abuses of power and sexual harassment related on the part of music profs and conductors are as deeply disturbing as they are familiar.

I would make this book required reading for any conservatory career-advice course.




Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/17/12 09:32 AM

Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
I thought "Mozart in the Jungle" was a fine read, and I commend oboist Ms. Tindall for having had the courage to name names and tell true stories from the ultra-competitive US classical music performance front, even at her own expense. Her tender yet tortured relationship with the distinguished collaborative pianist Sam Sanders (whose demise is recounted in moving detail) is one of the bright spots in a sordid coming-of-age memoir.
I guess the book might be less appealing to readers if she didn't name names, and the book would have sold fewer copies for that reason. But I don't think of naming names as courageous. I'd guess that most of those mentioned in the book are not happy having about having their personal lives revealed in mostly very unattractive ways.

I find all the details about Samuel Sanders especially unpleasant. If Blair was truly a good friend of Sam, why would she feel it's OK to reveal some very personal and less than flattering stuff about him?

I have the same reaction to the book as to those TV shows where people choose to tell very personal and unpleasant parts of their life to the world. Why would someone choose to do that?
Posted By: argerichfan

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/17/12 12:26 PM

Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose

She's a fluent journalist, good with facts, and can tell a story. The sex and drugs vignettes abound and are sometimes fun, but the abuses of power and sexual harassment related on the part of music profs and conductors are as deeply disturbing as they are familiar.

I read the book last year and had much the same impression. A great read to pass the time on the bus to and back from work, but nothing IMO compared to the Fleisher.
Posted By: Piano Again

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/17/12 12:55 PM

Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
I thought "Mozart in the Jungle" was a fine read, and I commend oboist Ms. Tindall for having had the courage to name names and tell true stories from the ultra-competitive US classical music performance front, even at her own expense. Her tender yet tortured relationship with the distinguished collaborative pianist Sam Sanders (whose demise is recounted in moving detail) is one of the bright spots in a sordid coming-of-age memoir.

Kreisler's dates, I might observe, are rather off: Blair Tindall was writing about her years as a Manhattan School student and then busy NY freelance woodwind player during the 1980s and 1990s. She made her NY recital debut in 1991, and left NYC in 1999 to attend journalism grad school at Stanford, in a bid to switch careers from music to writing. I believe she straddles both fields nowadays.

She's a fluent journalist, good with facts, and can tell a story. The sex and drugs vignettes abound and are sometimes fun, but the abuses of power and sexual harassment related on the part of music profs and conductors are as deeply disturbing as they are familiar.

I would make this book required reading for any conservatory career-advice course.






I agree with this. The book has some problems, but her main point, which you still don't see or hear anyone making so succinctly, is that the way classical music is funded is not supportable and that the way students are trained in conservatories is often very poor. As for the social stuff, I am about her age, and most of what she described sounded very, very familiar to me, even though I didn't get invited to those parties either! But I saw students with inappropriate relationships with teachers, lots of drinking/drugs, lots of politics influencing who got the good recommendations and gigs.

My husband, who is not a musician, also read the book, and he said he finally understood what I had been telling him about the classical music scene.

You can blame the messenger (as many have done), and she indeed seems to have some serious problems of her own that continue today (yes, she was seriously molested by older male teachers beginning when she was a teenager, but what was the cause and what was the effect?), but the message has some real value.

As for her relationship with Sam Sanders, she mentions that she worked with his family on the parts of the book relating to him and had their permission to publish that material. As for the other people she named -- I am guessing that the stories were all true because if they weren't, those people could have gone after her in some legal manner, and they did not. Some of them grumbled about it in Amazon.com reviews and probably elsewhere, but the book was published and is still selling, apparently.
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/17/12 01:18 PM

There is, without a doubt, a lively market for the sort of product offered by Ms. Tindall and by Jerry Springer.

Since I bought the book and read it to the end, I claim no position of virtue, but I can't praise this sort of kiss-and-tell writing.
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/17/12 02:27 PM

Originally Posted by Piano Again

As for her relationship with Sam Sanders, she mentions that she worked with his family on the parts of the book relating to him and had their permission to publish that material.
This is certainly better than not getting any permission at all, but is not the same as getting Sander's permission(of course, he had died by the time the book was written). From what you say I guess Tindall didn't get permission from at least some of the other people who are mentioned in a negative way in the book.
Posted By: Piano Again

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/17/12 04:48 PM

Originally Posted by ClsscLib
There is, without a doubt, a lively market for the sort of product offered by Ms. Tindall and by Jerry Springer.

Since I bought the book and read it to the end, I claim no position of virtue, but I can't praise this sort of kiss-and-tell writing.


There have been a lot of disparaging remarks and a little arguing about this book here on PW in the past, and I don't want to get into that, but I don't really consider this a typical "kiss-and-tell" book. In the first place, that stuff was only a small part of her story, and in the second place, it was more a tale of what amounted to child sexual abuse and harrassment and then the effects of that on her life -- the author herself apparently not entirely aware that this is what was going on. Plus, some of those sanctimonious and hypocritical men had it coming to them, IMO. These were serious ethical lapses on their part, to say the least.
Posted By: ClsscLib

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/17/12 05:12 PM

.
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/21/12 11:13 PM

The "good news" is that I mentioned this book to members of a pro trio(one of whom knows Blair Tindall)today, and they said that her description of the classical music scene is more like a description of the most extreme 10%.

But I was shocked and saddened by these figures about classical music employment near the end of the book:
"In 2001, some 11,000 music majors would graduate with a bachelor's degree, 4,000 with a master's, and 800 with a doctorate. Some 5,600 of these graduates majored in music performance, A handful would rocket to the top solo careers. Around 250 a year would find a full time orchestra job."

One interesting idea discussed in some detail in the book is that the employment opportunities for musicians have varied quite a bit during the last 100 years. The invention of the synthesizer, for example, caused a great drop in performance opportuniites. When sound was introduced into movies 22,000 pianists lost their job.
Posted By: tomasino

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 12:15 AM

Blair Tindall's thesis, I felt, was that the music schools, funded and encouraged in various ways by government as well as private sources, had flooded the music employment market with talent, for whom there were no jobs. The sordid life she and others were leading, was to some extent because of that overproduction of talent and the resultant under employment. Such a situation would then necessarily lead to the exploitation of freelancers, which she writes about in some detail. She backed her thesis with many facts and figures--see Pianoloverus's post above, for example. Her's is an implicit, sometimes explicit criticism of music education and the culture around music, and lays some fault at the feet of government and private foundations.

I take some issue with her thesis, because there is an upside to the overproduction of talent. I feel that the more people highly educated in music, the better it is for everyone in the society. I'm educated in music, but have never been so employed--but I'm involved and contribute in many different ways. Secondly, speaking as a statistic of one, I knew from the beginning that there was very little chance I would ever be employed in music. Everyone told me so. How could I not know? How could anyone ever have gone into music thinking it's going to be sure employment? I decided to become educated in music because I loved music and I loved culture. When it was time to find a job or establish a career--photography--I found that music, in a hundred different and indirect ways, was a fine background to have.

Tomasino

Posted By: Carey

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 12:19 AM

Originally Posted by pianoloverus

"In 2001, some 11,000 music majors would graduate with a bachelor's degree, 4,000 with a master's, and 800 with a doctorate. Some 5,600 of these graduates majored in music performance, A handful would rocket to the top solo careers. Around 250 a year would find a full time orchestra job."


Did she provide the source of these stats??? (I'm not doubting them, I simply wonder how they compare to prior years.)

Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 01:21 AM

Originally Posted by carey
Originally Posted by pianoloverus

"In 2001, some 11,000 music majors would graduate with a bachelor's degree, 4,000 with a master's, and 800 with a doctorate. Some 5,600 of these graduates majored in music performance, A handful would rocket to the top solo careers. Around 250 a year would find a full time orchestra job."


Did she provide the source of these stats??? (I'm not doubting them, I simply wonder how they compare to prior years.)

Yes, the National Bureau of Education Statistics.
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 01:32 AM

Originally Posted by tomasino
Blair Tindall's thesis, I felt, was that the music schools, funded and encouraged in various ways by government as well as private sources, had flooded the music employment market with talent, for whom there were no jobs. The sordid life she and others were leading, was to some extent because of that overproduction of talent and the resultant under employment. Such a situation would then necessarily lead to the exploitation of freelancers, which she writes about in some detail. She backed her thesis with many facts and figures--see Pianoloverus's post above, for example. Her's is an implicit, sometimes explicit criticism of music education and the culture around music, and lays some fault at the feet of government and private foundations.
I think that's one of the interesting ideas in the book.

The part that I grew tired of was the endless details of her private life and an incredible amount of complaining about her life as a musician. Although I have about 20 pages left so I don't know how the book ends, the musicians I spoke with today indicated she probably became unemployable as a musician after writing the book. Who would want to hire someone who was so willing to tell so much about the private life of others?
Posted By: LadyChen

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 01:36 AM

Does anyone read David Beem's blog? He has a similar view point to Ms Tindall (minus the sordid details).

http://davidbeem.wordpress.com/2012...ns-guide-to-a-career-in-classical-music/
Posted By: Carey

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 03:13 AM

Originally Posted by tomasino

I take some issue with her thesis, because there is an upside to the overproduction of talent. I feel that the more people highly educated in music, the better it is for everyone in the society.......I decided to become educated in music because I loved music and I loved culture. When it was time to find a job or establish a career--photography--I found that music, in a hundred different and indirect ways, was a fine background to have.


thumb thumb thumb
Posted By: Carey

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 03:18 AM

Originally Posted by beet31425
Originally Posted by Mark_C
I flipped through a number of the reviews on Amazon (which I think often gives a good fix on a book), and judging from what I see there, I'm both interested and not interested: sort of interested in some of the details (like "who") grin but not enough to delve into it and find out. From what I gather, this isn't a story about music as much as a story about a New York subculture (at least in a certain era and probably beyond) and a certain kind of person, and I'm sure it's been present in many other places too. I think there have been a lot of such lives in many different career fields, and among people with no particular career. I also think that it's not true in any general way that a classical music career is the kind of sordid desperate hellhole that some of the reviews state as a given and which I guess the book suggests.


I looked through this book at a bookstore a couple years ago, and this was my sense too. I put it down.

As did I after reading a few pages.......
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 03:22 AM

Originally Posted by carey
Originally Posted by tomasino

I take some issue with her thesis, because there is an upside to the overproduction of talent. I feel that the more people highly educated in music, the better it is for everyone in the society.......I decided to become educated in music because I loved music and I loved culture. When it was time to find a job or establish a career--photography--I found that music, in a hundred different and indirect ways, was a fine background to have.
thumb thumb thumb
But although it may have worked for you I think in general a music major and especially a performance major does not prepare one well for other kinds of work. As Tindall says in her book, much of the normal liberal arts background gained in a non conservatory is not part of a music majors education. In general, I think those studying a specific field where are a good number of job openings have the greatest chance of finding work after college.
Posted By: argerichfan

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 03:38 AM

Originally Posted by tomasino
[...] speaking as a statistic of one, I knew from the beginning that there was very little chance I would ever be employed in music. Everyone told me so. How could I not know? How could anyone ever have gone into music thinking it's going to be sure employment?

Following the posts and videos (some excellent!) of various students here, I do wonder just what their ultimate goal is in studying piano, and do they have a backup plan?

Half-way through uni I fully realized I wasn't going to make it as a pianist (playing Beethoven's 'Waldstein' -fairly well I thought- isn't any ticket to stardom), so I switched to organ and church music. It was far more satisfying, and indeed it turned out I had a very decent talent for playing a church service.

After emigrating to the US several years ago, my Anglican training was all of a sudden of neutral importance (perhaps more valuable in an Episcopal environment), but at least I landed a job as a fiscal specialist. I am grateful I had the foresight to take night-time accounting classes.
Posted By: Carey

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 03:42 AM

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by carey
[quote=tomasino]
I take some issue with her thesis, because there is an upside to the overproduction of talent. I feel that the more people highly educated in music, the better it is for everyone in the society.......I decided to become educated in music because I loved music and I loved culture. When it was time to find a job or establish a career--photography--I found that music, in a hundred different and indirect ways, was a fine background to have.
thumb thumb thumb
Quote
But although it may have worked for you I think in general a music major and especially a performance major does not prepare one well for other kinds of work.
The same could be said about other majors as well. But the self-discipline and analytical skills necessary to be successful in music are definitely transferable to other fields.
Quote
As Tindall says in her book, much of the normal liberal arts background gained in a non conservatory is not part of a music majors education.
I'm assuming you mean a "music major" in a conservatory as opposed to a "music major" in a liberal arts college or university where you are required to study and demonstrate competency in other subjects as a condition of graduating.
Quote

In general, I think those studying a specific field where are a good number of job openings have the greatest chance of finding work after college.
No doubt. But there are thousands upon thousands of folks in the work force who successfully earn livings in fields unrelated to their college majors.
Posted By: tomasino

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 01:00 PM

Do we regard an education as enabling us to find employment, or to gain a richer life? Put another way, do we educate to fulfill the projected needs of modern industry, or do we educate to develop an individual's talents and interests.

There may be some real downsides to tailoring education to industrial needs. This was touched on in a very fine editorial in the NY Times a month or so ago, headlined as "do we need algebra." Here's the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?pagewanted=all

Tomasino

Tomasino
Posted By: Otis S

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 02:38 PM

Originally Posted by tomasino
Do we regard an education as enabling us to find employment, or to gain a richer life? Put another way, do we educate to fulfill the projected needs of modern industry, or do we educate to develop an individual's talents and interests.


Ideally, education should achieve a combination of both of these aspects. The reality of the situation is that it often fails to do so.


Originally Posted by tomasino

There may be some real downsides to tailoring education to industrial needs. This was touched on in a very fine editorial in the NY Times a month or so ago, headlined as "do we need algebra." Here's the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?pagewanted=all


This editorial is almost completely wrong. The responses to the editorial on the Web page provide some refutations to the fallacious arguments presented by the author; note the high percentage of negative responses. Here are links to articles directly refuting this editorial:

http://scientopia.org/blogs/galacti...nt-he-just-ask-is-high-school-necessary/
http://dropoutnation.net/2012/07/30/why-algebra-matters-and-why-those-who-think-it-doesnt-are-wrong/
http://axiomofcats.com/2012/08/02/how-andrew-hacker-and-the-new-york-times-got-it-wrong/
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friend...ra-is-necessary-rebutting-andrew-hacker/

The following links discuss the importance of studying math:

http://mrflip.com/teach/writing/WhyStudyMath/WhyStudyMath.html
http://www.popmath.org.uk/centre/pagescpm/imahob95.html
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/faq.why.math.html
Posted By: Carey

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 02:52 PM

Well - while we're at it, we should consider why it is important to study music....(This list was compiled by Deborah Torres Patel) -

"1. Music training has been linked to spatial-temporal reasoning skills. (I.e. ability to read a map, put puzzles together, form mental images, transform/visualize things in space that unfold over time, and recognize relationships between objects. These skills are often helpful in science, math, and chess.)

2. Musical symbols, structure, and rhythmic training utilize fractions, ratios, and proportions, which are all important in mathematical study.

3. Increases problem finding/solving, logic and thinking skills like analysis, evaluation and the linkage/organization of ideas

4. Optimizes brain neuron development & circuitry

5. Assists motor development especially coordination of hands, eyes and body

6. Expands multiple intelligences and helps students’ transfer study, cognitive and communication skills from subject to subject in any syllabus

7. Group orchestra or ensemble activities help promote cooperation, social harmony and teach kids discipline while working together toward a common goal.

8. Music augments memory. For example, most people learn their ABC’s by singing them. Repeating a tune in a predictable rhythmic song structure makes memorization easier.

9. Singing is a great way to aid/improve reading ability and instruction. Karaoke is a perfect example. Children may learn a song by ear (auditory) but words on a TV or computer screen provide a simultaneous visual anchor.

10. In vocal music learning rhythm, phrasing, and pitch greatly enhances language, pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary skills. This is especially noticeable when using songs in first and second language study.

11. Improves critical reading and writing

12. Raises test scores, decreases performance anxiety, and teaches kids how to handle/manage stress during standardized exams

13. Helps children channel unexpressed and/or negative emotions in a positive way

14. Boosts creative thinking

15. Reading music and performing memorized pieces help children to think ahead

16. Improvisation helps people to “think on their feet”

17. Solo performance is connected to self-esteem & self-efficacy. (concept of self capacity) Children learn to reach for their very best.

18. When kids prepare and consistently practice for recital or performance, they work to sing/play without errors. They generally apply similar determination and perseverance to many future endeavors academic or otherwise.

19. Improves understanding of homework and enables a higher levels of concentration

20. Children who study music usually have a better attitude, are more motivated and are less intimidated by learning new things

Strong music reading, writing notation, sight singing (solfege), music theory, literacy, and moving the body to music are solid, transferable skills. Learning is a two-way street. For example, one can assume that mathematics can also develop music. Academic achievement links positively with musical achievement and vice versa."



Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 03:22 PM

Originally Posted by Otis S
Originally Posted by tomasino

There may be some real downsides to tailoring education to industrial needs. This was touched on in a very fine editorial in the NY Times a month or so ago, headlined as "do we need algebra." Here's the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?pagewanted=all


This editorial is almost completely wrong. The responses to the editorial on the Web page provide some refutations to the fallacious arguments presented by the author; note the high percentage of negative responses. Here are links to articles directly refuting this editorial:

http://scientopia.org/blogs/galacti...nt-he-just-ask-is-high-school-necessary/
http://dropoutnation.net/2012/07/30/why-algebra-matters-and-why-those-who-think-it-doesnt-are-wrong/
http://axiomofcats.com/2012/08/02/how-andrew-hacker-and-the-new-york-times-got-it-wrong/
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friend...ra-is-necessary-rebutting-andrew-hacker/

The following links discuss the importance of studying math:

http://mrflip.com/teach/writing/WhyStudyMath/WhyStudyMath.html
http://www.popmath.org.uk/centre/pagescpm/imahob95.html
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/faq.why.math.html
I will read those articles you gave with interest since I taught math for 38 years. I did read the NY Times article, and although I may not agree totally with it I think many valid points were made. I don't think the issue black and white either way.
Posted By: 1RC

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 04:09 PM

It's only responsible for students to consider having a job after spending years in school, most likely racking up debt in the process. In the end we must make a living, and the task is to find a way to do so that's also personally fulfilling.

This may or may not include schooling. I think our culture may have fetishized education over the years. We were told repeatedly that you must get one if you're to amount to anything in life, and now the conventional wisdom is you don't need to have a degree in the same field you go to work in. A lot of the students I met really didn't seem like they should have been there, or at least weren't ready for it. University profs are frustrated by highschool graduates who can't write and looking back my highschool experience seemed like glorified babysitting. I was told a joke once: "university is a great institution! Where else can you get a good highschool education?"

I don't mean to bash it so much. I think post-secondary education can be a great tool but in the end I've decided that one has to take the responsibility for their own education, in and out of institutions.
Posted By: Otis S

Re: Mozart in the Jungle - 09/22/12 04:21 PM

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Otis S
Originally Posted by tomasino

There may be some real downsides to tailoring education to industrial needs. This was touched on in a very fine editorial in the NY Times a month or so ago, headlined as "do we need algebra." Here's the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/is-algebra-necessary.html?pagewanted=all


This editorial is almost completely wrong. The responses to the editorial on the Web page provide some refutations to the fallacious arguments presented by the author; note the high percentage of negative responses. Here are links to articles directly refuting this editorial:

http://scientopia.org/blogs/galacti...nt-he-just-ask-is-high-school-necessary/
http://dropoutnation.net/2012/07/30/why-algebra-matters-and-why-those-who-think-it-doesnt-are-wrong/
http://axiomofcats.com/2012/08/02/how-andrew-hacker-and-the-new-york-times-got-it-wrong/
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friend...ra-is-necessary-rebutting-andrew-hacker/

The following links discuss the importance of studying math:

http://mrflip.com/teach/writing/WhyStudyMath/WhyStudyMath.html
http://www.popmath.org.uk/centre/pagescpm/imahob95.html
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/faq.why.math.html
I will read those articles you gave with interest since I taught math for 38 years. I did read the NY Times article, and although I may not agree totally with it I think many valid points were made. I don't think the issue black and white either way.


Many political philosophers have some points one would agree with, even if one totally disagrees with their overall ideology. The truth is that Andrew Hacker, the author of the editorial in question, is associated with the group of people who would like to see less importance placed on math in the US educational system.

His Wikipedia article describes him as "an American political scientist and public intellectual". The only concrete thing the article says about the ideas he has promoted or his viewpoints is:

In his articles he has questioned whether mathematics is necessary, claiming "Making mathematics mandatory prevents us from discovering and developing young talent."

Regarding his views of people who major in math, he recently told the New York Observer that

“Math majors,” he tells us, “math majors have their minds so sharpened, that their opinions about Syria are more valid than your opinions about Syria because once you do math and algebra, your mind becomes superior and so do your opinions in every field.”

The above statement is an unfounded generalization of math majors, and the fact that he would openly express such prejudice towards math majors immediately raises questions about how objectively he can view the subject that he has chosen to write about and champion.
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