Tag: critical thinking

August To June; Bringing Life to Palm Beach Schools


copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

As any Mom or Dad might do on Parent Teacher Conference Day, Amy Valens, the Educator featured in the documentary film August To June, traveled from “classroom to classroom.”  This journey was not a conventional one. Indeed, Amy did not attend a series of Parent Teacher Conferences.  What she did was appear at Palm Beach screenings of her documentary.  The film follows twenty-six [26] third and fourth graders who studied with Amy in her last year of teaching.  The public school open classroom “Brings Life” to education.

After the movie was viewed, Ms Valens and the audiences engaged in conversations. They discussed what they saw and how it might relate to a broader dialogue.  The subjects of Education Reform, Classroom Standards, Teacher Quality, Merit Pay, Student-Rewards for Success, Parent Involvement, and Testing are but a few topics prominent in our national debate.  While the assemblies of viewers varied widely, the results were the same.  Every child, every class, all Teachers, and each parent, tells a unique tale.  Regardless of the individual or group, we see the world, or in this case the film, through our own lens.

Denialism Is A Virus And Viruses Are Contagious

Crossposted from Antemedius

Michael Specter is a staff writer for the New Yorker. His new book, Denialism, asks why we have increasingly begun to fear scientific advances instead of embracing them.

Specter recently spoke at the TEDGlobal2010 Conference, held over the course of four days in Oxford, England to explore “the shocking undercurrent of good news just below the surface of today’s troubling headlines — new ideas, new science, new technology, new social and political thinking, new art and a new understanding of who we are”.

While I don’t agree with everything Specter says here and I don’t disagree with a lot of it, one of the things that I cannot deny is that I’m not always wrong in my opinions. I doubt that you can either.

But nor am I always right.

Why Michael Specter is worth listening to:

Michael Specter’s new book, Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet and Threatens Our Lives, dives into a worrisome strain of modern life — a vocal anti-science bias that may prevent us from making the right choices for our future. Specter studies how the active movements against vaccines, genetically engineered food, science-based medicine and biotechnological solutions to climate change may actually put the world at risk. (For instance, anti-vaccination activists could soon trigger the US return of polio, not to mention the continuing rise of measles.) More insidiously, the chilling effect caused by the new denialism may prevent useful science from being accomplished.

Specter has been a writer for the New Yorker for more than a decade; before that, he was a science writer and then the Moscow bureau chief for the New York Times. He writes about science and politics for the New Yorker, with a fascinating sideline in biographical profiles.

Denialism is a virus and viruses are contagious.” — Michael Specter

Spend sixteen and a half minutes with Michael Specter here, and see if he doesn’t challenge some of your ideas that you might be wrong about. Or some you might be right about.

Recorded at TEDGlobal2010 – February 2010

The Red Pill or the Blue? Moral Psychology, and Whose Team Are You On?

TED.com member (from his TED profile) and Social Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies morality and emotion in the context of culture. He asks: Why did humans evolve to have morals — and why did we all evolve to have such different morals, to the point that our moral differences may make us deadly enemies? It’s a question with deep repercussions in war and peace — and in modern politics, where reasoned discourse has been replaced by partisan anger and cries of “You just don’t get it!”  

Haidt asks, “Can’t we all disagree more constructively?” He suggests we might build a more civil and productive discourse by understanding the moral psychology of those we disagree with, and committing to a more civil political process. He’s also active in the study of positive psychology  and human flourishing.

Rather than me comment on it and perhaps skew responses or seed expectations, I’ll just let you watch and listen and take whichever pill you prefer.

This video is a TED talk Haidt gave last year. If you want hear more of his ideas and thinking, this year, posted today, Haidt spoke to the TED Blog about the moral psychology behind the healthcare debate in the United States.

Fanning the Fools and Flames


I love my job. It’s like Pavlov’s dogs. After a while you don’t actually have to throw red meat at them they just start salivating, barking and going berserk merely by tinkling the bell of jingoist propaganda and flickering images of patriot-fairies dancing in their heads.

How ironic; each village was supposed to have one idiot and now we have entire villages full of them. It’s not their fault really. It’s like rats on a treadmill. You ever wonder why they use so many lab rats, mice and monkeys all because they’re working on a better life for human beings?

Do I have to connect the dots for you? Okay. You asked for it. But don’t take my word for it. I’m a propagandist and I work for them.

Home from the Teabag Rebellion


All right! High fives all around! Wow! What a rush. Every Tax Day should be Revolution Day. I can’t wait till the next one. Remember what Jefferson said, “the Tree of Liberty shall be watered with the blood of tea-baggers every April 15th.”

Well we certainly made a statement didn’t we? We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore. I feel like going to an alehouse and signing a petition and pinching a wench. Yeah, resistance is good and the timing is perfect right after March Madness and before the NBA Finals. As Robert Duvall said, “I love the smell of Revolution in the morning!”

So, anyway, what’s for lunch?