Stop Praying To Our iPhones

iPhoneDisclaimer: I do not own an iPhone. In fact, I waste a great deal of money on the digital phone I do have (phone, camera, that’s it) because my current calling plan is the minimum discounted plan (I worked for the company) giving me 450 minutes each month … I use 2. But my daughter says she is tired of not being able to text me or share photos instantly and all the other social activities a smart phone allows so I have agreed to be added to her family plan and get an iPhone (which my neighbor laughingly says is not a phone but a pocket computer). This plan will make my daughter happier and actually make my monthly bill go away: it’s a good deal. Now I can only suggest that I will use the iPhone for periodic communication but otherwise, at least it replaces my old, old iPod Touch (and my loyal Flip Phone).

But the topic is not my own limited use of a future device but rather the suggestion made by W. Andrew Ewell in Salon that:

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Thinking Dangerously

That is, there are no dangerous thoughts for the simple reason
that thinking itself is such a dangerous enterprise.  . . .
nonthinking is even more dangerous. — Hannah Arendt

critical thinkingEveryone should read a very important article by Henry A. Giroux in TruthOut; I include a few excerpts:

Thinking Dangerously in an Age of Political Betrayal

Thinking has become dangerous in the United States. As Paul Stoller observes, the symptoms are everywhere including a Texas GOP Party platform that states, “We oppose teaching of Higher order Thinking Skills [because they] have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental control” to a Tennessee bill that “allows the teaching of creationism in state’s classrooms.”

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Academic Freedom taken behind the wood-pile

College CharlestonThere are so many good reasons to live in South Carolina, especially if you are retired, but there are also many bad reasons. Good weather, low taxes, and fried chicken, however, cannot make up for the stupidity and intolerance inherent in the state. It’s unfortunate that my friends and family scattered around this country regularly hear on the news how my adopted state is such an embarrassment, but after living for thirty years in New Jersey, I’ve gotten used to it. The one thing about South Carolina (and many other places so don’t be too smug) is it’s adherence to ideology at the expense of the truth and it closed-mindedness driving out critical thinking and academic investigation. Here’s another example from J. Bryan Lowder at Slate:

South Carolina Champions Academic Freedom … by Punishing Colleges for Assigning Gay Books

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Outdated Curricula

What’s Worth Learning: How Outdated Curricula Are Failing America’s Students

AlterNet / By Marion Brady

SchoolThe “core curriculum” used in America’s classrooms was poor when it was adopted in 1893, and grows more dysfunctional every year.

In the 1890s, very few students attended college, but those who did presented a problem. They came from secondary schools where, in total, about 40 different subjects were taught, and college admissions officers didn’t know how to compare their academic records. The situation, prominent educators felt, called for standardizing high school instructional programs, and a ten-man committee of school administrators was appointed by the National Education Association to undertake the task. They submitted their report in 1892, and the following year their recommendations began to be adopted across America, locking in the pattern in near-universal use today.

Big mistake. Change is in the nature of things, and in order to survive, societies must adapt. As the 20th Century unfolded, America changed. Work became more specialized and complex, international industrial competition increased, corporations grew larger, more impersonal, and less attached to nation states. Jobs requiring physical labor steadily declined in number, consumerism took off, an ever-rising standard of living came to be considered a right, and the Cold War generated a vague, pervasive sense of uneasiness.

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