jerryking + engaged_citizenry   28

Opinion | The Dominance of the White Male Critic
July 5, 2019 | The New York Times |By Elizabeth Méndez Berry and Chi-hui Yang. Ms. Méndez Berry and Mr. Yang started a program to amplify the work of critics of color.
aesthetics  art  artists  art_reviews  blind_spots  criticism  culture  cultural_criticism  cultural_interpretation  curation  engaged_citizenry  opinions  opinion_makers  TIFF  white-saviors  white_men 
10 weeks ago by jerryking
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  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
Engaging with the world’s ills beats hiding in a bunker
OCTOBER 18, 2018 | Financial Times | Stephen Foley.

those with real ambition are not planning for a life underground down under. They are building philanthropic ventures to tackle the world’s ills, or striving to effect change through the political process, or starting new mission-driven businesses.

The bunker mentality is the polar opposite of the optimism displayed by the likes of Jeff Bezos, who set out his philanthropic credo in September alongside his plan to build a network of Montessori-inspired preschools across the US. He talked of his “belief in the potential for hard work from anyone to serve others”, from “business innovators who invent products that empower, authors who write books that inspire, government officials who serve their communities, teachers, doctors, carpenters, entertainers who make us laugh and cry, parents who raise children who go on to live lives of courage and compassion”.

“It fills me with gratitude and optimism,” he said, “to be part of a species so bent on self-improvement.”

Bezos has decided to focus his charity on children, as many of his peers have done. From Mark Zuckerberg promising to fund a technological revolution in the way kids are taught, to the slew of east coast hedge fund managers promoting charter schools as a way to shake-up public education, philanthropists know instinctively that childhood is their point of maximum leverage.....engagement trumps disengagement. Public service matters, even if one is only stealing apocalyptic proclamations from a presidential desk. It beats burying one’s head in the New Zealand soil.

Many of the world’s richest individuals are working to avert the war, pestilence or revolution that would make a withdrawal from society seem attractive in the first place. Philanthropists who are funding human rights campaigns, or drug research, or novel approaches to tackling inequality — these are the real survivalists.
apocalypses  bolt-holes  catastrophes  charities  childhood  children  disasters  disaster_preparedness  engaged_citizenry  hard_work  high_net_worth  Jeff_Bezos  mission-driven  moguls  Montessori  New_Zealand  off-grid  optimism  Peter_Thiel  self-improvement  philanthropy  public_service  survivalists 
october 2018 by jerryking
John Stuart Mill Showed Democracy as a Way of Life - The New York Times
David Brooks JAN. 15, 2018

John Stuart Mill demonstrated that democratic citizenship is a way of life, a moral stance and a humanistic adventure.....Mill is famous for his celebration of individual liberty. But he was not an “anything goes” nihilist. He was not a mellow “You do you and I’ll be me” relativist.

In the first place, he demanded constant arduous self-improvement. In his outstanding biography, Richard Reeves points out that in “On Liberty,” Mill used the words “energy,” “active” and “vital” nearly as many times as he used the word “freedom.” Freedom for him was a means, not an end. The end is moral excellence. Mill believed that all of us “are under a moral obligation to seek the improvement of our moral character.”

“At the heart of his liberalism,” Reeves writes, “was a clearly and repeatedly articulated vision of a flourishing human life — self-improving, passionate, truth-seeking, engaged and colorful.”.... staged a lifelong gentle revolt against his father’s shallow intellectual utilitarianism.

Having been raised in this way and, as an adult, living in Victorian England, what he hated most was narrowness, conformity, the crushing of individuals under the weight of peer pressure, government power or public opinion.....Mill cures us from the weakness of our age — the belief that we can achieve democracy on the cheap; the belief that all we have to do to fulfill our democratic duties is be nice, vote occasionally and have opinions. Mill showed that real citizenship is a life-transforming vocation. It involves, at base, cultivating the ability to discern good from evil, developing the intellectual virtues required to separate the rigorous from the sloppy, living an adventurous life so that you are rooting yourself among and serving those who are completely unlike yourself.

The demands of democracy are clear — the elevation and transformation of your very self. If you are not transformed, you’re just skating by.
David_Brooks  democracy  Victorian  values  engaged_citizenry  arduous  critical_thinking  tough-mindedness  rigour  discomforts  struggles  history  op-ed  profile  philosophy  utilitarianism  liberal  political_theory  John_Stuart_Mill  self-improvement  19th_century  liberalism  indivualized  self-actualization  individual_choice  autonomy  intellectually_rigorous 
january 2018 by jerryking
Giving Away Your Billion
JUNE 6, 2017 | The New York Times | David Brooks.

Recently Brooks has been reading the Giving Pledge letters. These are the letters that rich people write when they join Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge campaign. They take the pledge, promising to give away most of their wealth during their lifetime, and then they write letters describing their giving philosophy......Most of the letter writers started poor or middle class. They don’t believe in family dynasties and sometimes argue that they would ruin their kids’ lives if they left them a mountain of money. Schools and universities are the most common recipients of their generosity, followed by medical research and Jewish cultural institutions. A ridiculously disproportionate percentage of the Giving Pledge philanthropists are Jewish.......What would David Brooks do if he had a billion bucks to use for good? He’d start with the premise that the most important task before us is to reweave the social fabric. People in disorganized neighbourhoods need to grow up enmeshed in the loving relationships that will help them rise. The elites need to be reintegrated with their own countrymen. .....Only loving relationships transform lives, and such relationships can be formed only in small groups. Thus, I’d use my imaginary billion to seed 25-person collectives around the country.....The collectives would hit the four pressure points required for personal transformation:

Heart: By nurturing deep friendships, they would give people the secure emotional connections they need to make daring explorations.

Hands: Members would get in the habit of performing small tasks of service and self-control for one another, thus engraving the habits of citizenship and good character.

Head: Each collective would have a curriculum, a set of biographical and reflective readings, to help members come up with their own life philosophies, to help them master the intellectual virtues required for public debate.

Soul: In a busy world, members would discuss fundamental issues of life’s purpose, so that they might possess the spiritual true north that orients a life.
social_fabric  David_Brooks  philanthropy  moguls  high_net_worth  Warren_Buffett  elitism  collectives  personal_transformation  plutocracies  plutocrats  disorganization  daring  relationships  emotional_connections  soul  North_Star  virtues  engaged_citizenry  civics  Jewish  biographies  friendships  self-reflective  giving 
june 2017 by jerryking
When local news outlets shutter due to cuts, we all lose - The Globe and Mail
ELIZABETH RENZETTI
The Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Apr. 01, 2017

Local journalism, whether it’s at a city paper or a weekly, a radio or TV station, keeps its community entertained and informed. The National isn’t going to send a camera crew to cover the profoundly annoying pothole on Main Street, or the feud between the dress-shop owners, or the cozy relationship between the mayor and the developers. The Globe and Mail is not likely to, either: This is where the country’s 1,060 community papers come in – or where they used to. According to a recent report, those papers lost $400-million, or one-third of their revenue, between 2012 and 2015. The Public Policy Forum’s recent report on media in Canada, called The Shattered Mirror, contains an even more alarming statistic: “Since 2010, there have been 225 weekly and 27 daily newspapers lost to closure or merger in more than 200 federal ridings.” Local television coverage has contracted as well.

“Well, so what?” you might ask. Your neighbourhood has a Facebook page. The mayor has a Twitter account. Except that none of your neighbours is going to sit through a long and boring zoning meeting and report back (unless he is particularly weird). And the mayor’s Twitter feed? Undeniably good if you’re looking for sunshine and kittens. Not so good for anything she doesn’t want you to see. When provincial legislatures and city councils are left unwatched, it also means no one is keeping an eye on the sausage-making machine of democracy......The problem of fleeing ad dollars and subscribers won’t be settled so easily, either: The industry has struggled with these pains for years. Not-for-profit foundations that run news outlets might be one idea, or hyper-local websites that are crowdsourced by neighbours.....In his farewell column, Kevin Diakiw wrote, “Moving forward, you will likely receive your information from the Internet, or newsrooms pared to the bone. Be sure to read not only information that fits your own narrative, but opposing views as well.

“The weighty responsibility of hunting for balance and accuracy now lands largely on your shoulders.”
newspapers  rural  community  journalism  opposing_actions  journalists  provincial_legislatures  engaged_citizenry  city_councils  local  print_journalism  subscriptions  dual-consciousness  Postmedia  consolidation  local_journalism 
april 2017 by jerryking
Why I’m Moving Home
MARCH 16, 2017 | The New York Times | By J. D. VANCE.

" The economist Matthew Kahn has shown that in Appalachia, for instance, the highly skilled are much likelier to leave not just their hometowns but also the region as a whole. This is the classic “brain drain” problem: Those who are able to leave very often do.

The brain drain also encourages a uniquely modern form of cultural detachment. Eventually, the young people who’ve moved out marry — typically to partners with similar economic prospects. They raise children in increasingly segregated neighborhoods, giving rise to something the conservative scholar Charles Murray calls “super ZIPs.” These super ZIPs are veritable bastions of opportunity and optimism, places where divorce and joblessness are rare." ......“The sociological role [colleges and universities] play is to suck talent out of small towns and redistribute it to big cities.” There have always been regional and class inequalities in our society, but the data tells us that we’re living through a unique period of segregation....This has consequences beyond the purely material. Jesse Sussell and James A. Thomson of the RAND Corporation argue that this geographic sorting has heightened the polarization that now animates politics. This polarization reflects itself not just in our voting patterns, but also in our political culture...JD Vance has decided to move [back] home-to Ohio....."we often frame civic responsibility in terms of government taxes and transfer payments, so that our society’s least fortunate families are able to provide basic necessities. But this focus can miss something important: that what many communities need most is not just financial support, but talent and energy and committed citizens to build viable businesses and other civic institutions."
sorting  segregation  compartmentalization  neighbourhoods  polarization  geographic_mobility  brain_drain  super_ZIPs  cultural_detachment  Rust_Belt  midwest  Red_states  whites  political_partisanship  political_polarization  working_class  J.D._Vance  industrial_Midwest  Appalachia  cities  engaged_citizenry  talent  Charles_Murray  civics  social_mobility  self-perpetuation  values  opportunity_gaps  college-educated  geographic_sorting  regional 
march 2017 by jerryking
Where History Is Being Made - The New York Times
I sent the Fallows Question to the Fallows themselves, and they agreed in part with my Washington answer. But they also said that the most important place to be now might be places like Erie, Pa.; Fresno, Ca.; and Columbus, Ohio.

Trump’s presence in the White House may push change to the local levels. In these cities, the Fallows argue, citizen participants are coping with declining industries, creating new civic cultures, assimilating waves of immigration, collaborating across party lines to revive everything from arts programs to tech seedbeds.

If you want to “observe” history, the Fallows say, go to Washington. If you want to “participate,” go elsewhere.

That’s a good argument, but I suppose I should close by widening the possibilities. After all, few knew about Martin Luther in 1517 or what Deng Xiaoping would unleash in 1977.....Most people can’t up and move in search of history. They’re tied down by work, family and spiritual commitments. But you only go around once in life, so if you can swing it, you might as well be where the action is.
David_Brooks  James_Fallows  Washington_D.C.  seminal_moments  Donald_Trump  local  history  engaged_citizenry  participation  pivots 
february 2017 by jerryking
A field guide to lies : critical thinking in the information age : Levitin, Daniel J., author. : Book, Regular Print Book : Toronto Public Library
Year/Format: 2016, Book , 304 pages

It's becoming harder to separate the wheat from the digital chaff. How do we distinguish misinformation, pseudo-facts, distortions and outright lies from reliable information? In A Field Guide to Lies, neuroscientist Daniel Levitin outlines the many pitfalls of the information age and provides the means to spot and avoid them. Levitin groups his field guide into two categories--statistical infomation and faulty arguments--ultimately showing how science is the bedrock of critical thinking. It is easy to lie with stats and graphs as few people "take the time to look under the hood and see how they work." And, just because there's a number on something, doesn't mean that the number was arrived at properly. Logic can help to evaluate whether or not a chain of reasoning is valid. And "infoliteracy" teaches us that not all sources of information are equal, and that biases can distort data. Faced with a world too eager to flood us with information, the best response is to be prepared. A Field Guide to Lies helps us avoid learning a lot of things that aren't true.
books  nonfiction  critical_thinking  infoliteracy  biases  lying  information_overload  TPL  Daniel_Levitin  engaged_citizenry  signals  noise  information_sources 
september 2016 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
‘Can You Make a Living After Studying English? Sure You Can’ - At Work - WSJ
June 6, 2013,| WSJ | By Robert Matz

Why study the humanities? For readers of The Wall Street Journal, here are two economic arguments.

...can you make a living after studying English? Sure you can. Students who major in English acquire skills in high demand in a knowledge and service economy: clear writing and communication, attention to detail, flexible and creative thinking.

First, there is the law of supply and demand. Blanket recommendations that college students study a STEM field are obviously self-defeating. If every student were to follow this advice, there would be too few jobs in STEM to support them. We have seen this kind of glut with the law degree.

Second, a humanities education creates a positive externality. You can’t meter the benefits of critical intelligence or imagination, but you wouldn’t want a populace that lacked them. Adam Smith, the author of Lectures On Rhetoric and Belles Lettres as well as of The Wealth of Nations, worried in the latter that the division of labor would make the laboring poor “incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation . . . of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment,” or of forming judgments regarding “the great and extensive interests of his country.” A nation with only technical expertise will similarly lack these virtues.

But can you make a living after studying English? Sure you can. Students who major in English acquire skills in high demand in a knowledge and service economy: clear writing and communication, attention to detail, flexible and creative thinking.

Still, not everyone should major in English. As a teacher in the field, I can tell you that some students couldn’t cut it. The deficits in their writing are too great to overcome, as are their difficulties in extrapolating from the particular to the general, or in thinking about problems in creative or original ways.

But students who can master the English major should feel confident that they are engaged in an enterprise that is valuable: personally, socially, and economically.

Robert Matz is chair of the George Mason English department.

This essay is part of a series on humanities studies and post-college employment.
humanities  STEM  career_paths  Colleges_&_Universities  Communicating_&_Connecting  liberal_arts  Adam_Smith  critical_thinking  English  self-defeating  externalities  detail_oriented  engaged_citizenry  extrapolations  writing 
june 2013 by jerryking
How Torontonians can get their hands dirty and improve their own parks
Mar. 29 2013 | The Globe and Mail | IAN MERRINGER.

The key, he says, is for residents to play a role in day-to-day park life – to organize, and perhaps run, the sorts of events and programs that should be animating their patches of ground.

Four weeks ago, this do-it-yourself model got a big boost when the W. Garfield Weston Foundation announced a grant of $5-million over three years to spur grassroots initiatives improving Toronto parks. The money bolsters an effort that has already been a runaway success. In those two years, the number of organized citizens groups – “Friends of” this or that park – has doubled from 40 to roughly 80.

In an era when all levels of government are pleading poverty and reducing services, Mr. Harvey’s Park People has hit upon a working method of do-it-yourself community activism: engaged volunteers seeking permission to do things on their own. This approach of co-operating with bureaucracy to get results could serve as a model for the future of advocacy in Toronto.
Toronto  parks  DIY  volunteering  community  community_support  activism  engaged_citizenry  bureaucracies  grass-roots 
march 2013 by jerryking
Can Museums Help Make Cities More Intelligent?
June 8, 2011 | Center for the Future of Museums |

[L]istening to awesome speakers explore the potential for such systems of ubiquitous, networked data to transform the urban landscape.

Curator Susan Piedmont-Palladino. Susan identified museums’ roles in urban design as provoking active curiosity and increasing “urban literacy,” thereby inspiring people to take action...Here are some interesting nuggets I took away from the day:
(1) Access to data can shift power to the people
Many speakers acknowledged the troubling potential for governments to monitor (and misuse) such rich troves of data on peoples’ movement and activities. However, Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, pointed out that the “ground up” use of technology enables citizens to band together to prevent government abuse. As an example of ground up citizen tech, she pointed to to Map Kibera, which enables Nairobi slum dwellers (aka “informal occupants”) to create a digital map of the informal economy and residential patterns. Prior to this, the Kenyan government did not recognize or gather data on the slum, depriving its residents of political recognition and services. What issues in your museum’s community might benefit from citizen use of data, and how might a museum help people access and interpret this information?

(2) The future of digital data rights. Caesar McDowell, professor of the Practice of Community Development at MIT, approached data privacy from another angle, proposing creating a Personal Digital Commons, controlling the rights that automatically accrue to data collected via social media. You could apply one of four licenses to the data collected by Facebook, LinkedIn and their ilk: free use; limited negotiated use; collective community use (use of aggregated data for community benefit); or no use. What data does your museum collect from users of your digital platforms, and what options do you give them for controlling how you use this information?

(3) How digital devices influence use of public space
I’ve heard many folks angst over how the use of smart phones, tablets etc. in museums will affect the experience.
museums  cities  urban  networks  data  grass-roots  Nairobi  informal_economy  sense-making  public_spaces  smart_cities  interpretation  engaged_citizenry  deprivations 
december 2012 by jerryking
Is Algebra Necessary? -
July 28, 2012 | NYTimes.com | By ANDREW HACKER.

Peter Braunfeld of the University of Illinois tells his students, “Our civilization would collapse without mathematics.” He’s absolutely right.

Algebraic algorithms underpin animated movies, investment strategies and airline ticket prices. And we need people to understand how those things work and to advance our frontiers.

Quantitative literacy clearly is useful in weighing all manner of public policies, from the Affordable Care Act, to the costs and benefits of environmental regulation, to the impact of climate change. Being able to detect and identify ideology at work behind the numbers is of obvious use. Ours is fast becoming a statistical age, which raises the bar for informed citizenship. What is needed is not textbook formulas but greater understanding of where various numbers come from, and what they actually convey....mathematics teachers at every level could create exciting courses in what I call “citizen statistics.” This would not be a backdoor version of algebra, as in the Advanced Placement syllabus. Nor would it focus on equations used by scholars when they write for one another. Instead, it would familiarize students with the kinds of numbers that describe and delineate our personal and public lives.

It could, for example, teach students how the Consumer Price Index is computed, what is included and how each item in the index is weighted — and include discussion about which items should be included and what weights they should be given.

This need not involve dumbing down. Researching the reliability of numbers can be as demanding as geometry. More and more colleges are requiring courses in “quantitative reasoning.” In fact, we should be starting that in kindergarten.

I hope that mathematics departments can also create courses in the history and philosophy of their discipline, as well as its applications in early cultures. Why not mathematics in art and music — even poetry — along with its role in assorted sciences? The aim would be to treat mathematics as a liberal art, making it as accessible and welcoming as sculpture or ballet.
mathematics  algorithms  numeracy  infoliteracy  public_policy  CPI  liberal_arts  engaged_citizenry  quantitative  value_judgements  logic_&_reasoning  cross-disciplinary 
july 2012 by jerryking
Modern citizens know a library’s worth
Aug. 30, 2011 | Globe &Mail | VINCENT LAM. There are two
priceless features of each of the 18 million annual library visits in
this city. First, sharing wisdom through the library & its programs
increases the wealth of our community. We learn, innovate and enrich our
city by sharing knowledge through books, films, lectures and
discussion. Second, the library is completely democratic. It provides
access to information, culture &leisure for new immigrants and
established Canadians, to children and the elderly, and to all
Torontonians whether they’re rich or going through tough times.

Speaking of tough times, in which we’re told that all belts must
tighten: Such are the precise times in which those with less disposable
income need access to good libraries more than ever. Those who can’t buy
books need to access the library’s collections, not to see acquisitions
or library hours cut. The destruction of the ancient Library of
Alexandria is one of the intellectual tragedies of antiquity.
civics  citizenship  libraries  Toronto  Rob_Ford  cutbacks  hard_times  austerity  TPL  social_fabric  commonwealth  institutions  engaged_citizenry 
september 2011 by jerryking
The land of the free-thinker?
March 18 2011 FT.com / Arts / Film & Television By Simon
Schama."this act of small-minded cultural vindictiveness isn’t about
dollars and cents; it’s about purging the United States of “elite”
institutions that have dared to impose themselves on the commonwealth of
commerce in the name of public interest; the equation of civism with
Marxism. Other pariah institutions include the Environmental Protection
Agency...& PBS " ...Richard Hofstadter showed in his
Anti-Intellectualism in American Life...Understanding the rest of the
world, however, is not a priority for the American right. It would
rather live in the echo chamber of unexamined chauvinism.
anti-intellectualism  Simon_Schama  chauvinism  engaged_citizenry  EPA  NPR  PBS  books  public_interest  echo_chambers  right-wing 
march 2011 by jerryking
The silence that kills
Dec. 15, 2010 | The Globe and Mail | Editorial
It was not the justice system that failed Ephraim Brown, an 11-year-old
gunfire victim in Toronto whose two alleged killers were acquitted of
second-degree murder on Monday. It was his community that failed him.

Sixty people were at the outdoor birthday party where he was killed in
July, 2007; only one, a teenage cousin, Kishauna Thomas, now 21, came
forward as a witness.

Impunity endangers everyone.

....The justice system is not something that, like an appliance, can be
taken to a repair shop to be fixed. It depends on people looking out
for one another and willing to do the right thing. When too few people
are engaged enough or brave enough, inevitably, the gangsters feel
empowered, and more innocent people are shot.
criminality  silence  impunity  civics  editorials  Canadian_justice_system  endangered  engaged_citizenry 
december 2010 by jerryking
Voice of Influence
Oct. 07, 2010| TIME| By Richard Stengel. Fareed's worldview
comes in part from being a naturalized American citizen who was born in
Bombay and grew up outside the U.S. in what was then decidedly the
developing world. His academic background — a B.A. from Yale and a Ph.D.
in political science from Harvard — also gives him a set of analytical
tools that few have. "Most journalists ask the 'what' question very
well," he says. "My training is to ask the 'why.' "s. "I'm not in
journalism to play parlor games with elites. I want to help people
become more thoughtful and engaged about the world." ...Fareed is one of
the foremost public intellectuals of our time. He connects the dots on
foreign policy, politics, the economy and the larger culture to make
sense of the world's most important ideas and trends. And he does it
with a subtlety that is nevertheless clear and accessible. For him,
politics and international affairs are complex and gray, not black and
white.
Fareed_Zakaria  profile  sense-making  foreign_policy  politics  economics  trends  popular_culture  public_discourse  journalism  public_intellectuals  connecting_the_dots  engaged_citizenry  worldviews  5_W’s 
october 2010 by jerryking
Knowledge of math = personal success + better citizenship - The Globe and Mail
September 2, 2010 | Globe & Mail editorial.

Modern citizens should be able to approach quantitative studies and claims both critically and respectfully. Indeed, non-scientific lay people may be better able to evaluate them than they expect, because statistical studies often depend upon some quite loose, non-mathematical concepts, and common sense may detect imprecision and even fallacies in the very premises of the research in question.

Democracy and the market economy, in this age of mathematical science, require a public that is numerate enough to have some sense of what is valid - and won't just acquiesce or shrug their shoulders.
citizenship  civics  democracy  engaged_citizenry  fallacies_follies  imprecision  infoliteracy  life_skills  mathematics  numeracy 
september 2010 by jerryking
A Classical Education: Back to the Future - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com
June 7, 2010 | NYT | By STANLEY FISH. Leigh A. Bortins’ “The
Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education,”
Martha C. Nussbaum’s “Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the
Humanities” and Diane Ravitch’s “The Death and Life of the Great
American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining
Education.”..."The result, she complains, is that “abilities crucial to
the health of any democracy” are being lost, especially the ability to
“think critically,” the ability, that is, “to probe, to evaluate
evidence, to write papers with well-structured arguments, and to analyze
the arguments presented to them in other texts.”"
Stanley_Fish  education  liberal_arts  humanities  engaged_citizenry  curriculum  reunions  high_schools  book_reviews  critical_thinking  democracy 
june 2010 by jerryking
The Grade Game
May 13 2010 | The Atlantic | Mickey Edwards. The form of
government by which we in America determine our laws is that of a
participatory democracy, "participatory" being the operative word. It is
essential for our continued well-being -- our security and our
prosperity -- that our citizens be capable of serious thought. The
ability to engage in critical thinking is far more important than the
memorization of dates or the ability to remember which theorist goes
with which theory.
grade_inflation  teaching  Colleges_&_Universities  critical_thinking  engaged_citizenry  participatory 
may 2010 by jerryking
How does U.S. democracy survive without its newspapers?
Tuesday, Jun. 16, 2009 | The Globe & Mail | by John Ibbotson.

The Globe has also still been spared the savage budget cuts that eviscerated so many once-great American newspapers as the recession accelerated chronic declines in readership and advertising revenue.

But in the U.S., it's time to ask: How will the seemingly inevitable extinction of many metropolitan daily newspapers influence politics and political culture there?

The answer isn't entirely grim. Some newspapers are bound to survive in print form, at least for a few more years, as competition thins and enlightened corporate owners recognize that laying off half their reporters is the surest way to destroy the only thing of value a newspaper has: the reputation behind its name.....there is another, very disturbing, trend. A recent survey by The Pew Center for the People and the Press reported that "a new Washington media have evolved, but they are far from the more egalitarian or citizen-based media that advocates of the digital age might imagine. Instead, this new Washington media cohort is one substantially aimed at elites, often organized by industry, by corporate client, or by niche political interest."

These publications may have an audience of a few thousand, or even a few hundred, willing to pay thousands of dollars in subscription fees for specialized coverage. "These are publications with names like ClimateWire, Energy Trader, Traffic World, Government Executive and Food and Chemical News," the Pew study says. They are proliferating, and hoovering up reporters and editors who have lost their jobs in mainstream media. "Today, it is the niche, not the mainstream, media that [provide]blanket coverage of Congress and other important arms of the federal government," the Pew report concludes.

The collapse of print journalism - network newscasts are also in terrible shape - threatens to bifurcate the public square. Those who know the power of information will pay to obtain it, and use that knowledge to influence the agenda.

Those who lack the means or interest will depend on blogs, social networking and whatever information they choose to look for online. How does democracy survive on that?
brands  budget_cuts  commonwealth  decline  democracy  engaged_citizenry  influence  information_sources  Inside_the_Beltway  John_Ibbitson  local_journalism  magazines  mass_media  market_intelligence  newsletters  newspapers  niches  political_culture  politics  print_journalism  reputation  sophisticated  Washington_D.C. 
june 2009 by jerryking
Canada is failing history
Jun. 18, 2009 | Globe & Mail | by Marc Chalifoux and J.D.M.
Stewart. To function in a modern democracy, citizens must understand
the country’s past. We must teach them. Caanda's first four prime
ministers were: (1) John Alexander Macdonald (C) (2) Alexander Mackenzie
(L) (3) John Joseph Caldwell Abbott (C) (1st Cnd. born) and (4) John
Sparrow David Thompson (C).
Canada  democracy  education  engaged_citizenry  history  schools  Dominion_Institute  nation_builders  Sir_John_A._Macdonald  civics 
june 2009 by jerryking

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