Kamis, 26 Februari 2009

What can we do?

It's a rainy day plus my racquetball games have been re-scheduled so I'll post. Today's revelation is that I am working very diligently at being a conspicuous contrarian.

Let's face it: the entire world is in a mess. It didn't get this way overnight and it won't be fixed overnight.

It will be fixed. That does not mean it will go back to the way it was as that was not a fix and would not be for the better. We, collectively, had it easy. So easy we cannot imagine what other countries' citizens live in or with nor can we appreciate what has been done before we plopped onto this space we each temporarily occupy.

Reading ROADS TO QUOZ has opened my eyes to some examples and I'll dispense one for your consideration, just to make my point. This is quoted from page 371. The location is in Ohio and the story reflects upon constructing part of Rt 40, in 1918.

"...Each brick weighed ten pounds and a square foot required exactly four and a quarter of them, and that meant every mile, minimally, held more than four-hundred-thousand bricks. If you've ever laid a walkway or patio using ordinary perforated, wall brick half the thickness of these heavy pavers, your hands, knees, arms, and back may give perspective on what it took to get an American flivver out of the mire and across the countryside."

This, along with much of the book's content, got me thinking about how easy we have it and how often easy is associated with faster which suggests, oft-times incorrectly, better.

It's not that we should build roads one brick at a time, although I cannot formulate an argument against that. It is that we must take what is occurring in our country and in our world and make something meaningful out of it. That may be taking some of what we were accustomed to knowing as "easy, fast, better" and replacing it with "challenging, educating, and rewarding".

A couple of decades ago the bizz-buzz was "paperless". Didn't happen. Ain't likely to happen. But we have all this technology. And, we THINK we have less time, especially free time. And, now we're being called upon to really work, not watch machines work but to dig in and get to work.

The last thing we should do is complain. The first thing we should do is get excited about being able to work and finding out just how amazing it is to know how things are done, not just that they are done...more than push a button and it happens.

Our societal focus on administrative and governmental details in the public schools has diluted the educational stew. We have diminished any concentration on teaching children to think. The cost is now apparent. We are so caught up in "easy, fast, and (not really) better" we have nearly eliminated teaching the processes. If we don't get an answer quickly enough we give it out and go on rather than allow students to play with it and mull a problem over till they come up with answers - yes, often more than one, often an improvement. Instead we place priority on the devil being in the details of answering to the powers at large.

With tough times come tough solutions. Tough solutions are wrought from solid thinkers - analyzers, creative minds - all those between the two extremes. And there is huge satisfaction in coming up with the work-arounds, the solutions.

But even more importantly is the effects gained from accepting that life remains "the journey, not the destination".

Put your thinking caps on!

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