Why People Are Stupid: Gee and The Anti-Education Era

This week, I read a portion of James Paul Gee’s The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning (preface; chapters 1-3, 7, 10, and 15-16). Gee, a presidential professor at Arizona State University, specializes in digital learning, most notably, gaming as a means to a more applicable, modern approach to education. The areas of focus in his book include reasons homo sapiens fail to thrive in their thinking, or act “stupid,” as well as ways people can overhaul their understanding of learning in order to think intelligently, or become “smart.” While Gee, a self-professed resident of institutional academic culture, can be -at times- heavy-handed in his approach, he also demonstrates vision, advanced understanding, and recognition of the sources of obstacles to becoming smart in this accessible, direct, and appropriately humorous work.

In my response, I will summarize Gee’s position regarding why human beings as a species can be simultaneously advanced and beleaguered in their thinking. I will argue that Gee’s position is, in part, thoroughly justified, and in part flawed, due to an incomplete depiction of the essential components of progressive education. I will amend Gee’s stance and integrate his thinking with my own to offer a modified understanding of what keeps people from being “smart.”


[References included in linked document]



One thought on “Why People Are Stupid: Gee and The Anti-Education Era

  1. Carlie,

    I loved your response to Gee’s thoughts and ideas about memory. It is very interesting how we tie our memories to emotions and can change/fabricate them based on experiences and what we “thought” we experienced/saw rather than the truth. I love the idea of reflection and how it can enhance our understanding of an observation. Your example of when your evaluator had called you sitting on the floor with students as “unprofessional” definitely sparks thoughts on how students learn and interact when learning. In my own experience, some of the best teachers that have made the most impact on my educational journey have been teachers who did not stand up at the board and lectured all day. They are teachers who have gone outside the box a little and made connections that have connected with many students. I would definitely be interested in hearing more of the topic!


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