notes june 29, 2008

June 29, 2008 § Leave a comment

Gardens of Paris

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/06/29/travel/0629-PARIS_index.html for slide show

 

and

Larry Summers has an article

What we can do in this dangerous moment

By Lawrence Summers

Published: June 29 2008 18:10 | Last updated: June 29 2008 18:10

It is quite possible that we are now at the most dangerous moment since the American financial crisis began last August. Staggering increases in the prices of oil and other commodities have brought American consumer confidence to new lows and raised serious concerns about inflation, thereby limiting the capacity of monetary policy to respond to a financial sector which – judging by equity values – is at its weakest point since the crisis began. With housing values still falling and growing evidence that problems are spreading to the construction and consumer credit sectors, there is a possibility that a faltering economy damages the financial system, which weakens the economy further.

 

The financial system… as I understand it, it is 20% of the US economy,and 40% of the profits. Is this not like a tax on all other transactions? What if the financial system were a public utility?

and

yo-yo ma on education

WHAT KIND OF EDUCATION FOR WHAT KIND OF WORLD? | What kind of education will prepare a student to live on such a planet? What tools do people need to become architects of their own lives? In a highly competitive hierarchical world driven by tests and measurable results, I would like to propose four priorities for education that are hard to measure and easy to ignore, yet they are vitally important and within reach for all of us.

My conclusions are drawn from my work as a musician, and my first priority is based in a common goal that musicians and teachers share: to make the communication of their content memorable. By memorable, I mean the listeners or students become transported by their experience of the music or subject. The content, then, remains active and accessible in their minds and can grow and connect to future experiences. Our stories will be different, but I’m sure that each of us can recall a teacher whose inspiration transformed our lives.

Content that is memorable becomes a key ingredient in the second priority, passion-driven education. Education driven by passion awakens us to a world bigger than ourselves and makes us curious. Learning becomes self-sustaining as it transforms from a requirement to a desire. Students who are passionate are a pleasure to teach, and teachers who are passionate share their knowledge generously. In fact, teaching becomes learning and vice versa. Passion-driven education liberates students and gives them the self-confidence to discover who they are as individuals and how they fit in the world.

The next priority is the development of a disciplined imagination. Imagination draws on all of our intelligences, senses, experiences and intuition to construct possible scenarios. Through imagination, we are able to transcend our present local reality and envision distant futures. It allows us to think not only about the tools people need today, but about the tools our children will need to contribute to the world they will share. Imagination is the great engine that powers the arts and sciences, and it is an available resource for all to use.

Disciplined imagination leads me to the final priority: empathy. To be able to put oneself in another’s shoes without prejudgment is an essential skill. Empathy comes when you understand something deeply and can thus make unexpected connections. These parallels bring you closer to things that would otherwise seem far away. In our world of specialization, compartmentalization and myriad responsibilities, empathy is the ultimate quality that acknowledges our identity as members of the human family.

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