Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Crazy Idea That Makes Sense: Let the Uneducated Educate

I happened upon a TED video this morning. The email arrived; I browsed, clicked and couldn’t stop watching until it was over. Here was this Indian gentleman telling the story of how he left his elite school to found a university among the poorest of the poor. It’s a school where no one with a title or a Ph.D. is allowed to teach, and where no exam is given. And yet, it works. And the movement has spread to Afghanistan, Africa and other places, where poor grandmothers are now building schools and installing solar panels. It is a revolution of sorts.
Bunker Roy - the founder of the movement - realized that uneducated people sit on vast knowledge resources, an idea that Jared Diamond touched upon in the beginning of his book “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” (1997). There is knowledge and there is knowledge. I’m not convinced that barefoot universities would work in modern, middle class societies, but I do believe that we have a lot to learn from them. One of the main problems with modern education is that we separate and isolate learning from doing. Another is that we focus on a narrow band of knowledge. The British Studio School movement has taken on these issues, seemingly successful among children that the current school system has failed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Listening to the Republican Debate

Listening to the Republican debate... what a bunch of losers - all thinking they are winners. Rick Perry is a bad joke. So is Bachmann. Herman Cain is a shrewd salesman - a male Sarah Palin of sorts - but his business is not power, but selling books and promoting his consulting business. Mitt Romney has that Mormon look and hedgefund mindset that gives his ego the necessary boost, but is not going to win enough evangelical votes to enter the White House. Ron Paul is a cranky old man with even older ideas, kind of like Ross Perot without the charts. The rest of the gang are not even worth mentioning. (Jon Huntsman - the only zane Republican candidate - decoded to not participate in this debate. Who can blame him?)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just Finished Listeing to Sapolsky On Stress...

Robert Sapolsky is the author of the bestseller "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers". He is an excellent lecturer, and he has a magic story to tell.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How a Plan for Two States Led to Just One: Israel

Two articles - one in the New York Times Sunday Magazine and one in Haaretz - provides new insight into the process that led to the creation of only one state instead of two in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. The articles show how the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), which was intended to be non-partisan and led by a Swede, Emil Sandström, was boycotted by the Palestinians and cleverly manipulated by the Jewish Agency and the intelligence network Haganah. The full story behind UNSCOP's recommendation to the create a Jewish state will soon be available in a new book by Elad Ben-Dror, a historian at Bar-Ilan University.

Ben-Dror has had access to recently declassified documents. He writes that UNSCOP were planning to create and train two militias - one Palestinian and one Jewish, but this didn't happen. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quotes from the book:

"The plan to establish a militia was the most surprising material I found at the UN," Ben-Dror says. "As part of the Partition Plan, both states were to create militias - a military force under government control and charged mainly with domestic policing duties."
But because the Palestinian leadership viewed Resolution 181 as a pro-Zionist plan and did everything possible to foil it, the UN focused only on establishing the Jewish militia.
"From quite an early stage, due to a lack of cooperation, the UN dropped half of the Partition Plan - the idea of establishing an Arab state," Ben-Dror explained.
"The idea was to implement at least part of the plan - that is, the Jews would create the Jewish state, on the assumption that eventually the UN Security Council would implement the creation of the Arab state," Ben-Dror continued. "As soon as the Partition Plan was adopted, UN Secretary General Trygve Lie and senior UN officials became identified with the idea of the Jewish state. The Arab assault was interpreted as an assault on the UN resolutions, and the UN trusted that the Jews would carry out the partition and not do anything beyond that."
A State is Born in Palestine (New York Times)
UN archives reveal plan to arm Jewish militia (Haaretz)