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jerryking : foundational   9

US declining interest in history presents risk to democracy
May 2, 2019 | Financial Times | by Edward Luce.

America today has found a less bloodthirsty way of erasing its memory by losing interest in its past. From an already low base, the number of American students majoring in history has dropped by more than a third since 2008. Barely one in two hundred American undergraduates now specialise in history......Donald Trump is a fitting leader for such times. He had to be told who Andrew Jackson was.....He also seems to think that Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave and 19th century abolitionist, is among us still.....But America’s 45th president can hardly be blamed for history’s unpopularity. Culpability for that precedes Mr Trump and is spread evenly between liberals, conservatives, faculty and parents........Courses on intellectual, diplomatic and political history are being replaced at some of America’s best universities by culture studies that highlight grievances at the expense of breadth.......Then there is the drumbeat of STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Most US states now mandate tests only in maths and English, at the expense of history and civic education...... In a recent survey, only 26 per cent of Americans could identify all three branches of government. More than half could not name a single justice on the US Supreme Court.....
the biggest culprit is the widespread belief that “soft skills” — such as philosophy and English, which are both in similar decline to history — do not lead to well-paid jobs.....folk prejudice against history is hard to shake. In an ever more algorithmic world, people believe that humanities are irrelevant. The spread of automation should put a greater premium on qualities that computers lack, such as intuitive intelligence, management skills and critical reasoning. Properly taught that is what a humanities education provides.......People ought to be able to grasp the basic features of their democracy. [Abiding] Faith in a historic theory only fuels a false sense of certainty....What may work for individual careers poses a collective risk to US democracy. The demise of strong civics coincides with waning voter turnout, a decline in joining associations, fewer citizen’s initiatives — and other qualities once associated with American vigour......There is no scientific metric for gullibility. Nor can we quantitatively prove that civic ignorance imposes a political cost on society. These are questions of judgment. But if America’s origins tell us anything it is that a well-informed citizenry creates a stronger society.
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here is what robots can't do -- create art, deep meaning, move our souls, help us to understand and thus operate in the world, inspire deeper thought, care for one another, help the environment where we live.......The role of the human is not to be dispassionate, depersonalized or neutral. It is precisely the emotive traits that are rewarded: the voracious lust for understanding, the enthusiasm for work, the ability to grasp the gist, the empathetic sensitivity to what will attract attention and linger in the mind. Unable to compete when it comes to calculation, the best workers will come with heart in hand.
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algorithms  automation  citizen_engagement  civics  Colleges_&_Universities  critical_thinking  democracy  Donald_Trump  Edward_Luce  empathy  engaged_citizenry  false_sense_of_certainty  foundational  historians  history  historical_amnesia  humanities  ignorance  political_literacy  sense-making  soft_skills  STEM  threats  U.S.  vulnerabilities 
may 2019 by jerryking
Opinion | The Two Codes Your Kids Need to Know
Feb. 12, 2019 | The New York Times | By Thomas L. Friedman, Opinion Columnist.

A few years ago, the leaders of the College Board, the folks who administer the SAT college entrance exam, asked themselves a radical question: Of all the skills and knowledge that we test young people for that we know are correlated with success in college and in life, which is the most important? Their answer: the ability to master “two codes” — computer science and the U.S. Constitution......please show their work: “Why these two codes?”

Answer: if you want to be an empowered citizen in our democracy — able to not only navigate society and its institutions but also to improve and shape them, and not just be shaped by them — you need to know how the code of the U.S. Constitution works. And if you want to be an empowered and adaptive worker or artist or writer or scientist or teacher — and be able to shape the world around you, and not just be shaped by it — you need to know how computers work and how to shape them.....the internet, big data and artificial intelligence now the essential building blocks of almost every industry....mastering the principles and basic coding techniques that drive computers and other devices “will be more prepared for nearly every job,”....“At the same time, the Constitution forms the foundational code that gives shape to America and defines our essential liberties — it is the indispensable guide to our lives as productive citizens.”......“Understanding how government works is the essence of power. To be a strong citizen, you need to know how the structures of our government work and how to operate within them.”
African-Americans  civics  coding  constitutions  education  engaged_citizenry  foundational  high_schools  indispensable  individual_agency  life_skills  op-ed  public_education  questions  SAT  show_your_work  students  Tom_Friedman  women 
february 2019 by jerryking
China Could Sell Trump the Brooklyn Bridge - The New York Times
Thomas L. Friedman NOV. 14, 2017

The saying — “When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there” — and it perfectly sums up the contrast between China’s President Xi Jinping and President Trump.....All along, Xi keeps his eye on the long-term prize of making China great again. Trump, meanwhile, touts every minor victory as historic and proceeds down any road that will give him a quick sugar high.

Trump literally has no idea what he’s doing and has no integrated strategy — because, unlike Xi, Trump’s given no thought to the big questions every effective leader starts his day with: “What world am I living in? What are the biggest trends in this world? And how do I align my country so more of my citizens get the most out of these trends and cushion the worst?”

What world are we in? One in which we’re going through three “climate changes” at once.
(1) Destructive weather events and the degradation of ecosystems are steadily accelerating.
(2) globalization: from an interconnected world to an interdependent one; from a world of walls, where you build your wealth by hoarding resources, to a world of webs, where you thrive by connecting your citizens to the most flows of ideas, trade, innovation and education.
(3) technology and work: Machines are acquiring all five senses, and with big data and artificial intelligence, every company can now analyze, optimize, prophesize, customize, digitize and automatize more and more jobs, products and services. And those companies that don’t will wither.
artificial_intelligence  Tom_Friedman  China  U.S.  Donald_Trump  globalization  technology  climate_change  TPP  international_trade  questions  think_threes  wealth_creation  grand_strategy  foundational  existential  extreme_weather_events  Xi_Jinping 
november 2017 by jerryking
The Great Questions of Tomorrow: David Rothkopf: 9781501119941: Books - Amazon.ca
“Asking the right question is the biggest challenge we face. People typically let the immediate past shape their questions—how do we avoid another shoe bomber is an example, when that’s not a risk that we’re likely to face. Or they let their area of expertise and their desire to be useful shift their focus. This is kind of the when-all-you-have-is-a-hammer-everything-looks-like-a-nail problem, and it leads people who feel the future is drone warfare to ask questions that end in answers that require drone warfare. Or, to choose an example, it leads people who have spent much of their adult lives fighting Saddam Hussein to ask questions after 9/11 about his role, even though he didn’t have one. And that did not turn out well.”

So, in the end, Hamlet had it wrong. “To be or not to be” is not the question. The question of questions is, “What is the question?” In this respect, history tells us to start with the basics, the foundational questions that we have for too long taken for granted. There are questions like: “Who am I?” “Who rules?” “What is money?” “What is a job?” “What is peace?” and “What is war?”
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Podcast : http://dcs.megaphone.fm/PNP5814408937.mp3?key=6548e439290ceeb43bb04f17f90d55bf
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"The biggest problems with Trump is that his daily melodramas are distracting us from the big challenges of our age," says David Rothkopf, whose book, The Great Questions of Tomorrow, seems to have bypassed the White House. "You cannot tweet or bully your way to leadership in complex times." [29 April/30 April 2017 | FT Weekend pg. 4 | by Edward Luce]
5_W’s  Amazon  asking_the_right_questions  books  David_Rothkopf  distractions  Edward_Luce  existential  expertise_bias  foundational  metacognition  podcasts  questions  recency_bias 
april 2017 by jerryking
Those who focus on police reform are asking the wrong questions - The Globe and Mail
AMANDA ALEXANDER
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jul. 29, 2016

The deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile underscore two truths about the United States: We make it difficult for people to get by and harder yet to care for each other. After decades of slashing welfare budgets and increasing investments in prisons, federal and state governments have charted a path for the country’s poorest: aggressive policing and incarceration. We’ve locked people out of the formal job market and criminalized their survival.

It is not coincidental that officers in New York and Baton Rouge killed Eric Garner and Alton Sterling, respectively, in the course of policing informal economies (selling loose cigarettes and CDs). We simply make life hard for people – until we extinguish it entirely....Each day, we require black people to risk their lives to be cafeteria workers, teachers, therapists. The United States demands impossible sacrifices from black people to sustain its economy, and has since slavery.

What does this have to do with police reform?

Very little. Reformers are asking the wrong questions. They have turned to increased police training and altered use-of-force protocols to end this nightmare. Fortunately, some among us demand another way. Young black activists are not just asking, “How do we make cops stop shooting us?” but instead, “What do our communities need to thrive? How do we get free?” They’re not begging for scraps; they’re demanding the world they deserve. If there’s a future for any of us, it’s in asking these questions, demanding fundamental shifts in resources and organizing like hell.....Meanwhile, cash-strapped cities continue to raise revenue from policing and fining the poor. And because of insufficient social service investment, Americans rely on police to be first responders to crises of mental health, addiction and homelessness.
policing  African-Americans  reform  informal_economy  mental_health  addictions  existential  foundational  homelessness  community_organizing  incarceration  institutional_path_dependency  structural_change  questions  Black_Lives_Matter  cash-strapped  cities  reframing  political_organizing 
july 2016 by jerryking
The Source of New York’s Greatness - NYTimes.com
By RUSSELL SHORTO SEPT. 7, 2014 | NYT |

In founding New Amsterdam in the 1620s, the Dutch planted the seeds for the city’s remarkable flowering. Specifically, the Dutch brought two concepts that became part of New York’s foundation: tolerance of religious differences and an entrepreneurial, free-trading culture.

In the 17th century, when it was universally held elsewhere in Europe that a strong society required intolerance as official policy, the Dutch Republic was a melting pot. The Dutch codified the concept of tolerance of religious differences, built a vast commercial empire and spawned a golden age of science and art in part by turning the “problem” of their mixed society into an advantage. Dutch tolerance was transplanted to Manhattan: They were so welcoming that a reported 18 languages were spoken in New Amsterdam at a time when its population was only about 500....This new economic mind-set likewise got transferred to New Amsterdam, where everyone was a trader, an entrepreneur. The port became so efficient that even archrivals in the English colony of Virginia sent their goods to Europe via what would become the New York harbor. .... The nonaristocratic, egalitarian bent of the Dutch also gave society on Manhattan a uniquely upwardly mobile character, distinct from that of, say, Boston. Who you were mattered less than what you could do....The concepts of tolerance and free trade both related to a new appreciation of the individual. New York was born alongside the world-historic force of liberalism, a philosophy that prized individual freedom above all else. What is little appreciated, though, is the grounding of individualism in collectivism. It was the Dutch agreement to work together for the common good of holding back the sea that allowed for the rise of prosperity and a society based on singular achievement.
history  New_York_City  anniversaries  Dutch  Holland  foundational  tolerance  religious_freedom  liberal_pluralism  melting_pot  golden_age 
september 2014 by jerryking
The Most Important Question You Can Ask
APRIL 25, 2014 | NYT | By TONY SCHWARTZ.

The answer to “In the service of what?” is to add more value to the commons than we take out, and not to discount any good that we can do.

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference,” said the children’s rights advocate Marian Wright Edelman, “ignore the small daily differences we can make, which, over time, add up to big differences that we cannot foresee.”

Personal accomplishments make us feel good. Adding value to other people’s lives makes us feel good about ourselves. But there is a difference. The good feelings we get from serving others are deeper and last longer. Think for a moment about what you want your children to remember about you after you’re gone. Do more of that.
work_life_balance  Tony_Schwartz  serving_others  hedge_funds  questions  slight_edge  legacies  values  life_skills  compounded  personal_accomplishments  foundational  cumulative 
april 2014 by jerryking
Sandra Day O'Connor and Jeff J. Curley: Founding Principles in the Digital Age - WSJ.com
April 21, 2014 | WSJ | By SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR And JEFF J. CURLEY

The College Board and Khan Academy—a nonprofit digital education platform—will partner to provide "free, world-class test prep" for the new exam.

These changes may sound unrelated, but they represent a fascinating paradox in education today: What is old in education has never been more important, but it may take what is new in education to truly prepare students for success in college, career and civic life.

Teaching the Constitution and the nation's other foundational texts is as old as public education itself. America's public schools were founded on the idea that education is vital to the success of democracy. But these texts are demanding and complex. Understanding them takes hard work and concentration. The effort is invaluable, though, not least because it instills the discipline that will equip young people with the knowledge and the habits of mind necessary to become powerful actors in civic life.

Millions of students taking the SAT will now encounter texts like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as well as the writings of individuals from James Madison to Martin Luther King Jr. But old test-prep methods like flashcards and rote memorization will not be sufficient. Students will need more sophisticated tools to help them understand the material and engage with it. Digital technology will be essential to achieving that goal.
civics  SAT  Khan_Academy  high_schools  students  tools  digital_media  standardized_testing  engaged_citizenry  public_education  constitutions  hard_work  foundational  education  paradoxes  platforms  judges  lawyers  Sandra_Day_O'Connor 
april 2014 by jerryking
Canada’s forgotten independence day
Mar. 11 2014 | The Globe and Mail | Lawrence Martin.

March 11, 1848, was the day when Canada’s united colonies got responsible government. You might go so far as to call it our independence day – the day real democracy arrived....
Baldwin and LaFontaine, leaders of the territories now known as Ontario and Quebec, convinced their colonial masters that allowing power to reside with an elected assembly instead of a governor’s appointed executive council was the only way to stave off anarchy....John A. Macdonald became our nation maker, as biographer Richard Gwyn calls him, but these men put in place the foundation. Lawyers by profession, they were not your typical win-at-all-costs politicians. Baldwin was a soft-spoken man who went about his work with a sunken heart. The pain at the loss of his adored wife at a young age never escaped him. But inescapable too was his devotion to the principles of democracy, social equity and justice. LaFontaine had that same commitment. He overcame strident opposition from francophone leaders in realizing his vision of a democratic union of the two cultures.

Not to be overlooked is Nova Scotia’s Joseph Howe, who secured responsible government for Nova Scotia two months earlier than Ontario and Quebec. His philosophy of governance paralleled that of Baldwin and LaFontaine. “The only questions I ask myself are, What is right? What is just? What is for the public good?” he said.
nation_builders  Lawrence_Martin  history  Canada  foundational  Canadian  anniversaries  public_goods  Sir_John_A._Macdonald  overlooked  forgotten 
march 2014 by jerryking

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