Anti-intellectualism Is Killing America


Reposted from Psychology Today:

America is killing itself through its embrace and exaltation of ignorance, and the evidence is all around us. Dylann Roof, the Charleston shooter who used race as a basis for hate and mass murder, is just the latest horrific example. Many will correctly blame Roof’s actions on America’s culture of racism and gun violence, but it’s time to realize that such phenomena are directly tied to the nation’s culture of ignorance.

In a country where a sitting congressman told a crowd that evolution and the Big Bang are “lies straight from the pit of hell,” where the chairman of a Senate environmental panel brought a snowball into the chamber as evidence that climate change is a hoax, where almost one in three citizens can’t name the vice president, it is beyond dispute that critical thinking has been abandoned as a cultural value. Our failure as a society to connect the dots, to see that such anti-intellectualism comes with a huge price, could eventually be our downfall.

In considering the senseless loss of nine lives in Charleston, of course racism jumps out as the main issue. But isn’t ignorance at the root of racism? And it’s true that the bloodshed is a reflection of America’s violent, gun-crazed culture, but it is only our aversion to reason as a society that has allowed violence to define the culture. Rational public policy, including policies that allow reasonable restraints on gun access, simply isn’t possible without an informed, engaged, and rationally thinking public.

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Standards Won’t Transform Education…Here’s What Will


Reposted from TeachThought:

“Standards won’t save education, or even serve as a good guide into the remaining 85% of the 21st century. Instead of trying to codify information from past centuries, we better be looking at how students will handle the incoming flow of traffic. Or how to stimulate creative design thinking. Or how to make them smart enough—meaning curious, resilient, persistent, empathetic, and open enough–to live and perform in today’s world.

Do students need to know stuff? Of course. But, frankly, if they aren’t taught about climate change in Wyoming or evolution in Indiana or South Carolina, the world will not fall apart (there’s something called the Internet). Also, I think we should focus on the obvious: Middle school and high school aren’t teaching grad school level rocket science.  All versions of the standards do a fine job of describing middle of the road information that students need to get as a base of knowledge. And, with about 100 years of teaching the same subjects, teachers pretty much know what people under the age of 18 need to know. Just put some guidelines and expectations in place, and get on with it.

Once that happens, the real conversation about redesigning education—the dialogue that will determine (and I mean this literally) whether our civilization stands or falls—can begin. That conversation should be furious, hot and heavy, and full of as much creative fire as we can muster.

You may recall the old bumper sticker: “If you don’t like education, try ignorance.” In my view, the current debate over standards is a sign of ignorance, not enlightenment. It consumes us, but offers empty calories, not sustenance for a deeper and longer journey. The real agenda items? I see at least five.”

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