Sunday, September 27, 2009

What's on your mind?

One of my LinkedIn contacts wanted to start a dialog amongst her several hundred contacts and asked the following question: Tell me what's on your mind. What are your biggest challenges? What opportunities are you excited about? If there were no barriers (financial, time, etc) what do you aspire?

Here is my response:

What's on my mind is how increasingly rare it is for people to engage in polite discourse. It seems common place for people to remain entrenched in their position unwilling to consider the other person's point of view. I get a first hand view of this through interactions with my students. They feel quite justified in their beliefs which are based on the most tenuous of assumptions. Challenges to their belief system are met with absolute certainty of the others need for rehabilitation or incarceration.

I am also concerned that in our pursuit to produce perfect citizens out of secondary eduction that we are creating just the opposite. Local high school graduates seem to lack basic knowledge of civics and history. They lack inquisitive minds, critical thinking skills and basic social skills. Blue collar skills are de-emphasized under the banner that everyone needs to go to college. It may run contrary to popular education theory but I believe shop helps students develop critical thinking skills, problem solving skills and a stronger sense of accomplishment. Secondary education curriculums have had to cut civics and shop classes out to make time for teaching state proficiency exams. The result is a less sophisticated mind upon graduating from high school. Fewer minds capable of solving problems leads to a mediocre workforce in my mind and a decided lack of innovation.

The opportunities that excite me is trying to be part of the solution to this problem. I spend a great of time in my class getting my students to pay more attention to what is going on around them. They have to read newspapers or watch the news but even then I challenge them figure out what happened BEFORE the news reported the item. I get them to note any biases in reporting and how those biases may have shaped the content of the story. No, I don't teach a communications course or class on the media. It is my belief that regardless of the subject matter, a student needs to challenged with expanding their knowledge. I hope it inspires them to continue to read and learn and develop those critical thinking skills they need.

My aspirations if there were no barriers would be completely unrelated to the above. I would focus on music. I would master the piano and devote my time to composing and playing music. My professional journey emphasized the technical and analytical over the artistic. Being a capitalistic system, I found it more advantages to remain technical as it pays better than being an artist.

1 comment:

Quim said...

I have noticed this certainty in younguns. And they are usually NOT right. It amazes me to hear some of the things they say to me that I would never have dreamed of saying to a middle aged person when I was their age.