01 January 2019

Demons, Angels And Nephilim - Reflections On Tracking

One day, sketching out some ideas for a possible fictional story that never panned out, I came up with fanciful names for different tracks that kids could be put into in a school system.

The top 5% or so of the most promising students in terms of academics and character, on track to go to selective colleges and to graduate schools and other elite professions after that, were called the "angels" (e.g., future physicians).

The middle 90% were broken into three tracks of roughly equal size. The "preppies" who were academically strong enough and conformist enough to graduate from college (e.g., future pharmacists and registered nurses and physicians assistants). The "techies" who were bright enough and had the right inclination to joint the skilled trades or earn associate's degrees or occupational certificates (e.g., future licensed practical nurses). The "proles" were good kids who were capable of being self-supporting, but just weren't going to do well in any kind of further education or highly skilled trade.

At the bottom 5% were the students who were already on track for violent crime, academic failure, and turbulent personal lives, broken up into two groups. Most were "demons". A minority of them (perhaps 0.5% of the total) were "nephilim" who were smart and/or display inspired moments of good character, but were also disruptive and had turbulent lives that got them into trouble.

The names are fanciful, and the tracking system sketched out was more rigid than what exists in reality, but the proportions are roughly what the status quo produces.

Our society, in the United States, does a reasonably tolerable job of preparing angels and preppies through public K-12 schools, public colleges and universities, and private colleges and universities supported by financial aid systems, although family affluence plays too great a part in the kind of education that equally academically capable students receive. There is a good argument that there is degree inflation in many fields, but we do prepare youths on these tracks adequately.

The same is not true for the other two-thirds of young people.

Kids who would probably thrive on a techie track in both school and subsequent careers in the U.S., instead are typically put in dumbed down versions of curricula designed to prepare them for four year liberal arts college degrees which don't interest them at all because they have no use to them, and are then urged to enroll in college programs that they will most likely drop out of without completing.

Kids who would be put on a prole track in the status quo in the U.S. leave high school without functional literacy, without any marketable skills or job experience, and without any guidance in how to navigate adult life. They work at unskilled jobs, often in retail or food service, designed with the assumption that they are only a passing step on the path to something better, and they don't have options for housing, transportation, health care, or anything else that can allow them to live decent lives in the long run without much job advancement with what they earn.

Kids who would be put on a demon track get suspended or expelled or otherwise disciplined in school until they drop out, have contact with the juvenile justice system as adolescents, may join gangs, and eventually drift into the adult criminal justice system, vagrancy, or life at the margins of society.

There is almost no recognition at all in our society that there might be any kids who are nephilim, who get into a lot trouble but could also be very promising if given a chance to be nurtured, even though there are cases such as people who earn college degrees in prison and end up their only due to happenstance to some extent, who fit that description.

I believe that techies would be better served by being formally tracked into quality vocational education in high school and apprenticeships and community college programs afterwards than they are by the status quo.

I believe that proles would be better served by being formally tracks into programs giving them job experience in fairly unskilled jobs, teaching them life skills and "adulting", and having some formal support systems in place into their early twenties to provide them with structure and guidance similar to the residential side of being in college, than they are by the status quo.

Some techies and proles might be well served by a chance to experience military service or serve in a parallel civilian public service corps.

I believe that demons and nephilim are people who are reasonably easy to identify with fairly modest effort, who should really be targeted for intense and sustained intervention and support before they go too far off the rails, because they and society suffer in the relatively laissez faire approach taken to them until they are arrested for serious crimes in the status quo.

Educators and parents are often uncomfortable with formal tracking because they are terrified to an unreasonable degree about limiting people's possibilities, but in the process, provide inferior means to develop the potential that roughly two-thirds of students do have by trying to force feed them into a watered down preppie track to which they do not belong and in which they will never thrive.

It is all good and well to have outs by which someone who starts on one path can end up on another one.

For example, in the military, while most officers start the careers as active duty soldiers and sailors by attending a military academy or a reserve officer training program in college or through direct commissioning of clergy, lawyers and doctors, soldiers and sailors who start out at the bottom as enlisted soldiers and sailors who show promise in performing their duties can be picked to attend officer candidate school and earn a commission as a military officer. About one in five officers secured their commissions through this path, although there is considerable variation by service with almost two-thirds of Marine Officers following this course, while only about one in nine Army officers does.

Similarly, in civilian life, while most people who earn four year college degrees do so by entering a four year degree program directly, a minority transfer from a community college program where they may or may not have earned an associate's degree. About 20% of bachelor's degrees are earned by people who previously earned a two year degree, and some community college students transfer into four year programs without earning a two year degree.

But, while ways to jump to another path are desirable, it is equally or more important that people be well prepared for the career and life path that they are most likely to end up on in the best possible way, rather than letting the tail wag the dog.


neo said...

all biblical names. though book of enoch isn't in the bible

andrew said...

@neo Yes, although not exclusively Biblical. the Koran, for example, also has demons and angels as does Zoroastrianism. And demons is a term that can be applied to non-Mediterranean religions.