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Response to Rosemary

Posted on Truthdig discussion board:

The work, as Rosemerry states, has more to do with education than anything else, re-education for some that is not about indoctrination for any particular ideology except the ideology of democracy or, perhaps, if there is such a thing, something better. The goal must be to humanize as Paulo Freire would have it, to help individuals get in touch with that which makes them human, a mind capable of reason, reason the amenity that makes possible understandings of the world that allow for sound decision making.

It is this decision making element of life, the capacity of human beings to make good sense decisions, that recommended democracy to the founders of the United States. The Declaration argues for independence from a king who will not respect the “opinions of men.” It does not say directly that those opinions must be respectable opinions, but such is implied in the fact that democracy was the form of government the writers were prescribing. Respectable opinions are based in evidence, evidence that becomes knowledge through verification of veracity and analysis of the significance of the evidence that leads to sensible decisions. Individual “decisions” are what individuals bring to the public forum for scrutiny by “the people,” the best ideas applied to make good public policy.

The problem with the United States of America is that there is not as much demand as their need be for ideas based in evidence and honed through the application of good reason. Quips supplant statements of good proof and much that is legislated has little basis in sound evidence or good reason. Americans receive advertisements rather than good arguments and are willing to buy what they are being sold.

It seems to me that willingness to buy what is being sold through advertisements that are always too short to present reasons why is what Americans are made to accept as proper reason, this taught throughout those years we spend in school where teachers and their textbooks (teachers do not have to reason to understand well what they are teaching) give students the answers the students are made to accept as the “right answers” to the questions asked by those in authority, teacher and text.

Students are, one the tests that “count” never asked to explain how they arrived at the answers they put down in response to the questions asked on the tests and the very short answers they give (sometimes pencil marks in a very small bubble-not much room for explaining), if the reflect directly what the have been told, get them what they need and, sadly, what too many come to want, the pat on the back that is the good grade and the diploma.

So, in answer to the question of what we do, what we need to do, we need to do what Ivan Illich told us to do a long while back, deschool society and retool the schools so that what goes on in classrooms helps students grow their independent thinking ability in such ways that they are able to properly critique the ideas that come before them (critical thinking), present their own ideas and their critiques of others’ ideas to contribute to the process by which people in real democratic societies decide how to proceed.

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