Warning from President U.S. Grant
In a thought for the day from Wordsmith came this quote from U.S. Grant:
If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon’s but between patriotism and intelligence on one side and superstition, ambition and ignorance on the other.
We are witnessing that come true today as those in power seek to stay in power and pander to the fears and resentments of their followers. The only hope for our future is in our schools. That is, if they can overcome the reactionary elements trying to keep them from teaching thinking and reasoning skills that help them separate fact from fiction, science from superstition, and truth from propaganda.
The challenge for teachers at all levels these days is to survive the criticisms and restraints and instill in their students a respect and appreciation for learning, not just getting through to the next grade or level. The willingness to keep on learning, in and outside of school, is what has made many of our historical leaders successful and it is the only thing that will make our future learners more than pundits and reactionaries. With so many changes in the information age, and the access to so much of the world around us, knowing how to learn new things is more important than what has been learned to pass a course or a test. My suggestion is that we focus schools on teaching critical and creative thinking skills, information technology skills and effective communication skills using subject matter as the domains to practice those skills in. How to think and communicate as a scientist, historian, visual artist, mathematician, poet, etc., would empower our children as lifelong learners and future leaders. And the world would be a much more interesting place.