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A Musing Moment: An education article, the Republican debate, and responses to Slice of Life article about me


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I’m having a musing moment.  I just read an article: Ten Skills Every Student Should Learnin eSchool News, August 11, 2011.  As a recovering reading specialist, I was struck by the following:

  • We recently asked our readers: “If you could choose only one, what’s the skill you’d like every student to learn?”  Perhaps surprisingly, while many readers did cite critical thinking as a skill every student needs, another skill was listed nearly twice as much as all other responses combined.  Need a hint?  It’s a skill every student has needed since the days of the one-room schoolhouse: the ability to read.  Being able to read, though the most popular response, was certainly not the only one.  Another skill that could be considered the most forward-thinking response is having “global empathy.”

I agree with the need for students to read and also immediately fell in love with the term global empathy.  I think many Americans can use a dose of it!  Last night I listened uneasily to the debate among the Republican challengers, and this morning I realized global empathy is not a value most of them possess or at least admit to.

In the online version to the Slice of Life article about me in the Frederick (MD) News-Post, several readers offered comments.  Most stated that I should help people in this country, suggested that I am involved with a well in Kenya only for publicity purposes, and then blamed the US gov’t. for taking their tax dollars so they don’t have enough to put their own children thru college.

I replied that our church encourages deeds, not creeds, and I do indeed contribute to a number of local and national causes, such as the Vermont Food Bank, when I read that the devastation from Irene was worse than generally reported, the Religious Coalition, and the Frederick YMCA Boat Safety program.  (I couldn’t resist ending with “If we all stretch ourselves a little instead of whining about the government, the world will be a better place.”)

I forgot to mention Save the Children, which I saw had 4 stars on Charity Navigator when friend Anna Maslowicz requested a contribution.  And it’s not just money that matters.  Another friend, Judy Thompson, reminded me I should have included that Carl volunteers in the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) at a prison and I wish I had—it is a great program.

I’m not bragging because I think a lots of folks contribute much more than we do; I am saying only that each of us has our own favorite causes and we must portion our efforts and money to those we select and we must also think globally.  I suspect, if you’re a reader of this blog, you do your share.  What charities do you have on your list?  Perhaps some little known ones that you have checked out and others should know about?

I also see how far our US$ go in a country like Kenya.  And the Kenyans I know are not asking for a handout; they want a little help so they can help themselves.  (I don’t know about other African countries but perhaps someone reading this can comment.)

And last, on our trips there, we met many Kenyans for whom help to others is a natural but huge part of their lives.  We met a naturalist at Olorgesailie, an educated young man in a remote area that houses a fascinating stone-age museum.  He gives speeches discouraging the practice of female circumcision, a truly magnanimous gift to women everywhere.  We admire Paul Kirui, who set up a UK trust to empower young women thru education, and Peter Liech & wife Gladys, whose Kenya Self-Help Project works wonders for young women in Kendu Bay with life’s necessities to stay in school and then scholarships for those who qualify for higher ed.

Global empathy!  Love it!  The world needs more of it.

As a reward for reading this rambling post, here is a photo of stone tools Louis and Mary Leakey found in 1942 at Olorgesailie, one of the favorite places I’ve ever visited.  Click the link to read some fascinating stuff about our early ancestors.  Dr. Rick Potts, of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins program, calls the stone tools the modern day equivalent of Swiss Army Knives because they may have had multiple uses but no one knows exactly how they were used.  Any ideas how and for what you would have used one of these tools, if you lived about a million years ago?

 

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