Friday, March 25, 2005

I am a small town hick.
I grew up in a town of 26,000. I am so far out of the loop that I was 20 before I found out there was a loop.
I guess that makes me the ultimate outsider, getting all my information from the media.
But, I see what is going on around me, out here in the "real" world. And I have reason and thought on my side.
Let's see if that is enough.

The biggest lesson I have learned about the Information Age is that our education system must be changed. Because the Information Age is anything but.
We are flooded with data. Google any subject, and you will find 20 different opinions, all different - and all with "facts" to back them up. Instead of a world of facts at our fingertips, we have a sea of lies, in which float a few facts, almost invisible amid the waves of opinion. No wonder faith has made such a comeback - when you don't have any facts, you are left with either confusion, or faith.
The education of our children must reflect our new reality. The new three "R"s must replace reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic with Research, Reasoning, and Rhetoric.
All information is on the Web, somewhere. The trick is to find it. We must teach our children how to research, how to track down primary sources (and teach them what primary sources ARE), the inner workings of search engines, and, at higher levels, how to create them.
We must teach them logic, semantics, and rational thought. No, they won't be reading Santayana in grade 1, but they will learn about the basic fallacies (all cats are four legged animals, therefore all four-legged animals are cats. True or False?) and eventually will learn to separate fact from argument.
We must teach our children rhetoric - the art of communication. Text messaging aside, we do most of our communication by voice - and we do ALL of our convincing. Our children need to learn to look past the noble words, booming voice, and stern appearances, and see the message.

If they don't, they'll end up slaves, motivated and manipulated by others.

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