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Thread: A question for the highly educated here.

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb A question for the highly educated here.

    I have lunch once per month with an older lady and her two daughters (my age).

    They are all highly educated (various degrees; I have a business college diploma), and I'm often stymied at how they very much wish to dodge/deflect/avoid many would-be topics of conversation.

    I am not combative or provocative. Also, they are all VERY politically involved/connected in this town (which I shun; I do not like politics or this town).

    Their attitudes/responses are often polite rebuffing. Not just towards me, but others as well. Seems it is cultural to their alma mater (???) - a university in this town (I've previously interacted with some others from that U, who are similar; their call, their choice, their control - and minimalist about interacting).

    They indirectly seek to control conversations; how much they'll talk about something, if they want to - as though it's always THEIR call. Even "trivial" stuff. It gets frustrating, because I'm like Why is it always up to you? Why do you decide? Why do you shut down/deflect so much? What CAN we talk about??

    I'm used to people just "naturally" socializing (Midwestern standards).

    Are YOU this way? Are you trained to be this way?

    I've dealt with other highly educated people before (years ago - been *here* so long now) and my impression of those people was generally a real willingness to talk; socially engaging and interesting. I should think that "goes with the territory" (learning, sharing, comparing; being open-minded).

    Thanks for any and all replies.
    Last edited by Buttercup; 2015-Nov-17 at 11:21 PM.
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    I don't know what the definition is of 'highly educated' but it sounds to me like you might be making a generalization based on this sample of 3 people. In other words, they are the way they are, I'm not convinced educational level has anything to do with it. I know plenty of folks all over the educational spectrum, and the desire to control conversations or be 'politely rebuffing' does not seem to be a function of educational level. In my years of college, I certainly was never 'trained' to control conversations indirectly or otherwise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redshifter View Post
    I don't know what the definition is of 'highly educated' but it sounds to me like you might be making a generalization based on this sample of 3 people. In other words, they are the way they are, I'm not convinced educational level has anything to do with it. I know plenty of folks all over the educational spectrum, and the desire to control conversations or be 'politely rebuffing' does not seem to be a function of educational level. In my years of college, I certainly was never 'trained' to control conversations indirectly or otherwise.
    And that's what I'm puzzled about. Because I - briefly - had exposure to quite a few of their colleagues. It's nearly everyone associated with NMSU that I encountered (even professors), who have this weird rebuffing, turning away, walking away "thing" going on. As if they can't/won't talk...are reluctant to get into a real conversation...you're always getting (superficially) re-acquainted...might have a bit of chit-chat and next time they see you it's this blank look, etc. They're this way towards each other as well.

    I don't get it.

    They are incredibly anti-social.

    If they're this way with students...

    I definitely didn't benefit from their acquaintance. In ANY regard.

  4. #4
    Usually people who have spent so much time working in a certain field love spreading their knowledge and insights about it. Some people don't like talking shop while social situations. Maybe they have some bad experiences discussing things with the general public.
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    Quote Originally Posted by redshifter View Post
    I don't know what the definition is of 'highly educated' but it sounds to me like you might be making a generalization based on this sample of 3 people. In other words, they are the way they are, I'm not convinced educational level has anything to do with it. I know plenty of folks all over the educational spectrum, and the desire to control conversations or be 'politely rebuffing' does not seem to be a function of educational level. In my years of college, I certainly was never 'trained' to control conversations indirectly or otherwise.
    The interests and ways to spend spare time have more to do with scope and spectrum of knowledge and understanding.
    Some people may be highly educated, but their scope and understanding may be limited to their fields of expertise.
    George Bernard Shaw once said: "No man can be a pure specialist without being in the strict sense an idiot."

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    I do like to avoid political and otherwise contentious topics when I'm trying to relax, but I don't think it's because I'm educated as much as because I use the Internet a lot and I'm used to how quickly arguments can start and turn ugly there.

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    Hi Buttercup, It sounds a lot like the " ME parade " on steroids. Sorority style with a nod and throwback to the 4th grade.
    Of course ... if they had to listen to themselves for two days , they wouldn't believe it ! And they must have played hooky for the semantics class.

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    My mom taught me to, in a conversation, focus upon what the other people are interested in. I've always tried to show an interest in whatever it is that they do, and I've found that I rarely have to fake it. People with practical knowledge can be an intriguing source of information.

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    Here's an example, relative to these people. "Jane" is a retired school teacher who reads to children, once per week, at local public library. We sat with "Jane" and her husband (retired NMSU professor) during a potluck. Both are quietly eating. It's a POTLUCK; where people are supposed to be sociable. I decided to try and get Jane to talk.

    Me: "Jane, you're a reader at the public library?"

    Jane: "Yes."

    Me: "How long have you been doing that?"

    Jane: "About 5 years."

    Me: "You must enjoy it. I've heard you reading to the kids; you're good at it."

    Jane. "Yes."

    ...

    She answered as briefly as possible. Didn't share any anecdotes. Etc. Kept picking over her food and looking aside (not at me) as though this were a strange conversation, or inappropriate, or ho-hum how could it matter? Rebuffing.

    Here is how that conversation likely would have unfolded where I was born/raised:

    Me: "Jane, you're a reader at the public library?"

    Jane: "About 5 years. They needed more volunteers, and I miss being a school teacher, I really enjoy working with children, so of course I signed right on. Fills in some free time as well. Buttercup, you might consider volunteering?"

    Me: "Well, I'm not so great at reading aloud. I've heard you reading, though; you're good at it."

    Jane: "Oh? You were at the library - when? Wait...I've just remembered passing you there a few weeks ago (this actually happened - and she walked right past me without a word). Still, you might want to reconsider volunteering. I have a terrific time with the kids. One little boy in particular, Jason, is a real firecracker. Ha ha ha... (shares anecdote about Jason, and then maybe another)..."

    That is THE difference.

    I've never known so many ultra-reserved, uptight, socially awkward public school teachers as well. I could never guess the ones I've "interacted with" work, day in and day out, in a public venue.

    Another weird thing about these people is they prefer INDIRECT communication. They don't want to converse with you...but they will gossip and gossip AND GOSSIP behind your back. And they "route information" indirectly. Not infrequently a lady has told my husband to tell me hello, or to call and talk with her if I need something... Why tell him?? Why not tell me directly?

    I just don't get this.

    I don't mean to sound unfair or like I'm trying for a double-standard, but I grew up with blue-collar farmers and factory workers who are socially engaging, funny, caring, expressive. To be continually met *here* with white-collar folks who have these social difficulties just blows my mind.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inclusa View Post
    The interests and ways to spend spare time have more to do with scope and spectrum of knowledge and understanding.
    Some people may be highly educated, but their scope and understanding may be limited to their fields of expertise.
    George Bernard Shaw once said: "No man can be a pure specialist without being in the strict sense an idiot."
    That reminds me a bit of a saying attributed to medical school students:
    "The general practitioner is a guy who knows less and less about more and more, until eventually he knows nothing about everything; the specialist is a guy who knows more and more about less and less, until eventually he knows everything about nothing."
    William A. Nolen, M.D., The Making of a Surgeon

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    I'm not up on my White Code nuances but: "Midwestern" = white, "those people" = African American and "cultural" is Hispanic?

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    From what I hear from the conversation with Jane, it seems that maybe she is the type who takes time to warm up to people. Some cultures are more like that than others.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heid the Ba' View Post
    I'm not up on my White Code nuances but: "Midwestern" = white, "those people" = African American and "cultural" is Hispanic?
    Drop it. Now.

    There was no such implication in the OP and there will be none in this thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heid the Ba' View Post
    I'm not up on my White Code nuances but: "Midwestern" = white, "those people" = African American and "cultural" is Hispanic?
    Everyone I'm referencing are White like me.

    I'm also married to a Latino man (and my best friend since Kindergarten is Asian), so don't go trying to make me sound racist. I also read a lot about China, and want to visit. Can I be cleared of White Guilt already? Thank you.

    Jens - "Jane" is not of a different culture (or race); these are regional differences apparently. That it's people of my race in the same nation, yet so different...it's surprised me.
    Last edited by Buttercup; 2015-Nov-19 at 02:31 PM.

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    There are definitely regional differences. When my daughter moved from NJ to Missouri, she kept wondering "Why do all these people want to talk to me?!"


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    Quote Originally Posted by Extravoice View Post
    There are definitely regional differences. When my daughter moved from NJ to Missouri, she kept wondering "Why do all these people want to talk to me?!"


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    Well no offense, but I'd heard (Stephen King admits it, for instance) that folks in New England are (or were?) stand-offish, cool, difficult to get to know. But I honestly didn't expect to encounter that in a warm, sunny desert so near to "friendly California." There is also no North vs South (lingering Civil War grudges) mentality here; another reason I've been surprised that it's not friendlier.

    The only people who are consistently friendly and make living here bearable are Roman Catholic Latinos.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    Everyone I'm referencing are White like me.

    I'm also married to a Latino man (and my best friend since Kindergarten is Asian), so don't go trying to make me sound racist. I also read a lot about China, and want to visit. Can I be cleared of White Guilt already? Thank you.
    "Drop it. Now." means "stop talking about this subject". It doesn't mean others can go on a while longer. Also, when you think someone accuses you of something, report the post and let moderators handle it. As they have already done in this case. Infraction issued.
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    Let's go back to the definition of "highly educated".
    I have a Bachelor of Arts; then again, many people consider a BA as a basic degree for further pursue, but I failed in this attempt. (I won't consider myself "highly educated"; but I enjoy pursue of various knowledge since my childhood.)
    A Bachelor degree isn't exactly considered "highly educated" in many parts of the First World (our new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is being teased for his lack of professional education; I guess Americans are aware that he was once a high school teacher. A high school teacher at the helm of the nation?!)
    As I have said previously, while teaching is a professional career, some people compare it unfavourably with jobs like accounting, medical professions, pharmacists, lawyers, etc.
    I have kept correspondence with some professors previously, but they don't sound particularly classy to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inclusa View Post
    Let's go back to the definition of "highly educated".
    I have a Bachelor of Arts; then again, many people consider a BA as a basic degree for further pursue, but I failed in this attempt. (I won't consider myself "highly educated"; but I enjoy pursue of various knowledge since my childhood.)
    A Bachelor degree isn't exactly considered "highly educated" in many parts of the First World (our new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is being teased for his lack of professional education; I guess Americans are aware that he was once a high school teacher. A high school teacher at the helm of the nation?!)
    As I have said previously, while teaching is a professional career, some people compare it unfavourably with jobs like accounting, medical professions, pharmacists, lawyers, etc.
    I have kept correspondence with some professors previously, but they don't sound particularly classy to me.
    So what is the definition of 'highly educated' anyways? It always saddens me when teachers and the teaching profession is denigrated. Personally, IMO having a high school teacher 'at the helm of a nation' isn't nearly as bad as many of the alternatives...

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    Quote Originally Posted by redshifter View Post
    So what is the definition of 'highly educated' anyways?
    My cynical side says that someone who identifies as "high-educated" has more education than they have practical experience.
    Depending on whom you ask, everything is relative.

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    To me, "highly educated" is a meaningless term; at best it is a relative term. A janitor with a PhD is highly educated (for his work), a rocket scientist with a PhD is typical. Looked at across multiple human cultures... meaningless.

    And then there are the differences between "educated" and "experienced", or between "intelligent" and "wise", as mkline55 implies.

    To try, as the OP did, to apply such a meaningless term as "highly educated" to explain the social behavior of a group of people is doubly meaningless, IMO.
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    Well,.... imagine if we had an actor for president, well never mind. If you have a college degree, it should represent that you can do a research paper,
    express yourself clearly , with a clear handle on mathematics and linguistics, perhaps even a second language , have a good handle on world history and current events and be at least comfortable with science , and be able to correspond intelligently so as to appear competent , and to be considered
    " Well Read ". After that , you have specialization and practical experience , but those basic tenets should be held in common.
    The problems come in with manners or the lack and distortion of them. Just look at soap opera. That's enough. We don't want anyone to be
    influenced by video catastrophe. All the education available is for naught if you have a personality like a sea urchin and an ego the size of the national debt. There's lots of people with a great deal of higher education ....."Looking" for a job . No takers, let go during trial period etc etc .
    They are good at talking their way out of a good job. They are just incompatible with real people. The world has it's share of educated derelicts.
    It is the way of things. Their Indian name is " Irritates different people sometimes " . Hmmmm.......

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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    the size of the national debt
    I don't think ours is the same size as yours.

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    I'd consider everybody here to be highly educated ... just via different paths.

    However, I'd guess that our grasp of social theory varies considerably across the board, so this isn't exactly the first place I'd come for a discussion of the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    It is the way of things. Their Indian name is " Irritates different people sometimes " . Hmmmm.......
    What do Indian names have to do with anything? All the Indians I know have dames like Rao and things like that.
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  26. 2015-Nov-21, 12:37 AM

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    What do Indian names have to do with anything? All the Indians I know have dames like Rao and things like that.
    There is nothing like a dame!

    -- O. Hammerstein


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    Hi Jens , American anecdote by way of native american tradition . My grandson we named " putting different things in mouth sometimes " .
    When he turns 9 years old, perhaps he will earn his next indian name : " Takes out trash sometimes " .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    To me, "highly educated" is a meaningless term; at best it is a relative term. A janitor with a PhD is highly educated (for his work), a rocket scientist with a PhD is typical. Looked at across multiple human cultures... meaningless.

    And then there are the differences between "educated" and "experienced", or between "intelligent" and "wise", as mkline55 implies.

    To try, as the OP did, to apply such a meaningless term as "highly educated" to explain the social behavior of a group of people is doubly meaningless, IMO.
    To the general public, "the highly educated" usually means someone has a Bachelor's degree (at least) or above.
    Still, I have heard that many people with technical diplomas or certificates fare quite a bit better than people with a college degree (but in today's world, you can have applied or practical degrees as well.)
    There are practical degrees above the Bachelor's level.
    Still, should we have both specialist and generalist education?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inclusa View Post
    Still, I have heard that many people with technical diplomas or certificates fare quite a bit better than people with a college degree (but in today's world, you can have applied or practical degrees as well.)
    "Better"? What do you mean by that? Closer to sainthood?
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    Some people just don't like to be asked about their lives; it makes them feel awkward. It's not about trying to "control" the conversation, it's about being made uneasy by the direction the conversation is going in.
    To some extent it's personal, but to some extent it's cultural. I don't think it has anything to do with educational attainments.
    As an example, involving two sweeping generalizations, Americans seem to be much more comfortable than Scots are, in talking about themselves to strangers or acquaintances. I've been made uneasy repeatedly, over the years, by Americans I hardly know spontaneously telling me details about their family and homelife. And I've been made very uncomfortable by Americans asking me to share things that I don't want to share: trivial, harmless stuff like how I enjoy my job or how often I see my family, but not something I want to chat about to a relative stranger.
    Buttercup, I know you're feeling rebuffed, but I can see Jane's point of view - I would guess she feels you're being intrusive and wants you to back away from a particular line of questioning. When you're sitting with someone who is asking for information you don't want to share, it feels like an interrogation. The art of conversation lies in picking up on these cues and identifying territories to avoid in future.

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