Harold Jarche has a post in which he points out that good education and civics are necessary but not sufficient, citing Al Gore. The necessary additional component is dialog around ideas. I have to agree, we can’t advance if we aren’t collaboratively creating our future in an open and informed way.
It reminded me of this quote from Al Gore (excerpted from his comments at Sierra‘s Climate Forum) that I’ve been meaning to blog, which mimics my feelings about current US politics (and, to some extent Australian, my other home):
With regard to our political system, it now devalues knowledge and facts. It didn’t used to. What was special about the America we were born into was that it still embodied the highest values of the Enlightenment We grew up in a world where truth mattered, and when new ideas came … the merit of those ideas was judged against the rule of reason. … The political system doesn’t act that way anymore. As in the feudal era, wealth and power regularly trump knowledge, facts, and reason.
We don’t value reason any more. We deride scholars as eggheads or wonks, and laud those who have acquired money or celebrity through questionable means or for no notable contribution at all. This does not bode well for governments based upon the collective will of the people.
I’m an optimist, and I think that technologies like the internet give us hope, but we can’t be distracted by rote testing when our nations needs critical thinking and reasoning. You can’t care about the world and not be passionate about education.