What Makes You Think 

Red questions Cope's edgercation credentials

"What you been doing with yourself, Red? I haven't seen you in a blue moon."

"A what?"

"A month of Sundays."

"A what!?"

"A coon's age."

"A what!?"

"A long time, Red. I'm just saying that I haven't seen you in a long time."

"Well, why don't you spit it out, Cope, and forget about all them blue coons and such? Besides, it ain't my fault you ain't seen me. I been coming to your house least once a week for months, trying to get you to answer the gull durn doorbell."

"Oh, that was you? I heard the ding-dong, but I figured it was Jehovah's Witnesses. So I'd duck down behind the philodendron and pretend I wasn't home."

"You ain't fooling me. I know what you were doin'. You was hunkered down on that Macinapple of yours, hatching up new ways to disrespect ol' Tom Luna. Fact, you been on this anti-edgercation kick all year long. Don'tcha think people're getting tired of it?"

"Me anti-education? You're nuts! Red, you'll never meet a more pro-education person than me. You want anti-education, go check with your chum Luna. Go check with Hopalong Otter and that bunch of screw jobs who keep infesting the Legislature year after year. There isn't a one of those corrosive creeps I'd trust to mow my lawn, let alone decide what constitutes a decent education."

"What makes you think you're qualifiable to decide what a decent edgercation is, Cope? You ain't no teacher. Hows do you know what yous acalling pro-edgercation ain't really anti -edgercation? Especially since what yous been preaching goes against durn near everthin' ol' Tom Luna says needs t' be done. And last time I looked, he was our superintenement of edgercation, not you. Or did you get that job since I seen ya' last?"

"Listen, pal. If I did have that job­--not that I'd want it, but if I had it--I'd be a damn sight better at it than him. And you want to know why? Because unlike Luna, I know the difference between 'education' and 'training,' that's why."

"What's wrong with training, Cope? If it twern't for someone training me, I'd have no idea hows to honeydip those septic tanks what puts food on my family's table."

"That's just the point, Red. Training is all well and good. We need it, sure. But let's not confuse it with education. Training is what you do with jumpy dogs and flabby bodies and people who need a marketable skill. Training's for getting your hair to part a certain way or getting your little kid to use the toilet instead of his pants. You train your horse to barrel race and your bonsai to lean one way over another. But training and education are two different things, Red. And I'm afraid we don't have many leaders in this state who know the difference. Least of all Tom Luna. He's a 'trained' man, not an educated one. Just remember, there's a lot more to a well-rounded education than what kind of job you get."

"Now hold on a gull durn minute, Cope. What's the point of an edgercation if'n it ain't to train a feller for gettin' a gull durn job? And when you say 'well-rounded edgercation,' you mean like ... what? Like learning to be both a dental assistant and a diesel mechanic?"

"Uh ... not exactly. I mean learning more than you need to know just to earn a paycheck. I mean learning so much about so many things that your brain needs to grow to fit it all in and your understanding needs to stretch out like a girdle to make some sense and shape out of it. To cram so much history and geography and arts and literature and languages and science and math and philosophy and even miscellaneous trivia into your skull that, eventually, you transcend yourself.

"That you realize you are part of something that is so much grander than a job market or a payroll or even an entire economy. To fill your senses with so much knowledge that there's no room left for ignorance and prejudice and savagery. To send kids forth from school with a desire for ever more schooling, with a craving to continue learning and a thirst for wisdom. That's what I mean by a 'well-rounded education,' Red. Think of it this way ... training plugs you in. Education sets you free."

"And what's the point? What the U.S. of A. needs is more engineers, not more o' your gull durn wisdom. We'll be slipping off the top spot of the country pile if we don't get our employee pool up to snuff."

"Aw, so what? There are a lot of perfectly fine countries full of perfectly fine foreigners who don't think they have to be the perpetual kings of the hill. And Red, have you seen any evidence that being No. 1 has made Americans any happier? Or any smarter? Or more responsible citizens?"

"We don't need to be smart an' happy, Cope. N'r more responsible, neither. Wes're already what they call 'exceptionable,' ain't you heard? And wes need to stay exceptionable!"

"We'll save that 'American exceptionalism' discussion for another day, OK Red? I have a philodendron that needs watering, and by the way, sounds to me like your enunciation training is wearing off."


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