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Restoring Restraint & Civility in America

Recently, in an essay titled The Root of Violence, I proposed that the solution to the problem of violence is not to deny anyone’s freedom of speech, but to restore the moral context of that freedom—respecting others and exercising restraint and civility regardless of our feelings toward them. Such behavior is not inborn but must be modeled and encouraged in the culture.

Much more difficult than saying that respect for others must be encouraged in the culture is determining exactly how that can be accomplished.Read More

 

The Real Problem In American Education

Teacher LecturingFor decades whenever American students have tested poorly in comparison with their peers in other developed countries, public outrage has caused educators to pursue educational reform. When a reform plan is announced, optimism is high, but it usually lasts only until the next international comparison proves equally or more disappointing.

The reason this pathetic cycle has continued is that educational leaders have ignored the possibility that the reform process itself is preventing meaningful change.… Read More

 

Pope Francis Inspires but Oversimplifies

Pope FrancisPope Francis’ recent messages to the U.S. Congress and to the Catholic bishops revealed his personal goodness and his deep compassion for the poor and downtrodden. His words and demeanor were inspirational not only to Catholics but to all people of good will.

As expected, there have been criticisms of the Pope’s message, notably from those who believe his views are more politically progressive than those of his predecessors.… Read More

 

The Elephant in the Classroom

Elephant, 16548871_sFor well over a century, the phrase “elephant in the room” has been used to denote a situation that is too obvious to ignore but is nevertheless ignored. In the classroom, the “elephant” is bureaucracy, and its effect on the process of teaching and learning has been deleterious.

Up until the mid-20th century, education was focused on teachers and students. Non-teachers such as janitors, office staff, and administrators were hired to perform supportive tasks so that teachers could dedicate themselves more fully to the learning process.… Read More

 

Efficiency Is Not a Dirty Word

Angry Businessman 10922381_sThe company’s Chief Accounting Officer (CAO) was livid. The young engineer had the gall to question the need for a weekly accounting report to the home office when he didn’t know anything about accounting processes! So the CAO spat some choice words and told the young engineer to leave and never return.

The engineer sheepishly returned to his department and reported the incident to me, his supervising engineer.… Read More

 

The Cognitive Dysfunction Epidemic

Confused, 13564622_sHave you ever seen an ad for Cognitive Dysfunction (CD) like the ubiquitous Erectile Dysfunction (ED) ads? It might feature a man getting his truck stuck in the mud while the announcer intones, “You’ve learned a thing or two—now it’s time to get your brain working.” Or a man and a woman gazing at each other as these words appear on the screen—“When the moment is right, will you be able to open your mouth and say something intelligent?”

You haven’t seen such ads, of course, because they don’t exist.… Read More

 

Flirting with Fascism

MussoliniAmerica has undergone a dramatic cultural shift in the short space of a half-century. The 1960s celebrated freedom from the restraint of traditional morals and mores and celebrated open-mindedness and diversity. Among the guiding principles of that time were “Truth is relative—everyone creates her own” and “No one should be able to impose his beliefs on others.” Today those principles are largely ignored by the very people who embraced them in their youth.… Read More

 

The Blame Game

Closeup of human hands pointing towards business manIt’s easier to point at others than at ourselves. If you doubt me, try this—extend your arm and point straight ahead. Now turn your hand and point at yourself.

The difficulty is not just anatomical; it’s also psychological, a fact increasingly evident today. Though it is most prominent among politicians—Republicans and Democrats blaming each other, and both blaming the American people—it can be found among average people as well.… Read More

 

The Most Serious Thinking Error

Man Browbeating 4926088644_226da4a963_zWhat mental error poses the greatest obstacle to intelligent thought and behavior today? It’s hard to pick just one, but if pressed, I’d say “mine is better” thinking. The term can’t be found in most logic books—I coined it many years ago in a book on thinking to describe a mindset that was becoming increasingly evident in all walks of life.

Today, evidence of “mine is better” thinking is everywhere, including education, journalism, law, and perhaps most notably, government.… Read More

 

Progressivism’s Fundamental Flaw

Francis Galton (Bing)Progressivism is the dominant political and social philosophy of our time. Even people who know little about it tend to regard it favorably. They believe that since progress suggests moving forward, developing, and improving, Progressivism must be positive and good. But Progressivism doesn’t deserve this favorable image because it is rooted in a profound falsehood—that the vast majority of human beings are mentally deficient and nothing can be done to alter their condition.Read More