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Education

We Are So Wired, and So Separated

A high level connectivity does not ensure that the facts of vital and emerging issues are ingested intelligently around the globe

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Envision a world with nearly 60% of 7.9 billion people online. That is the state of Internet use today, in 2022. Before 2000, less than one billion people were connected, and a decade before that, less than 30 million people.

While Internet patronage has exploded, and the sharing and dissemination of information is unprecedented in human history, humankind is no closer to achieving what anyone would call cohesion. In many respects, we are heading in the opposite direction: splintering. How can this be so in an era where virtually anyone can access the Internet and make a thorough exploration on any topic or issue?

One answer is that on any major topic, the information explosion is too much for anyone to fathom. Add in the inherent bias of mainstream news reporting and how little time you might have to thoroughly read, ingest, and fathom what you’ve read, and you have the keys to less agreement, unity, and social harmony than ever before.

Controlling the Narrative

People were not better off in previous eras when there was a dearth of information. For most of recorded history, whoever did the recording, controlled the history. Today, with the plethora of news sources, in free societies no one has a monopoly on what is disseminated to the populace.

Still, it is possible to control the narrative, like it’s done in the U.S. mainstream media – the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, NPR, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, the failing CNN, and other purveyors of a like-minded, pre-determined agenda dominate.

When every story, issue, and square inch of semantic space is politicized, one can expect exceedingly little agreement on any particular topic. Even events that happened within the last year, for which an abundance of reporting sources, video and audio recordings, eyewitnesses, and other documentation exist, major disagreement over what actually happened, let alone the implications, are likely. Why? What we ingest is filtered by our predispositions.

Spin, or a contortion of issues, is not merely a political phenomenon dispensed by PR handlers, it is a growing phenomenon that impacts every arena of human endeavor. Psychological processes such as selective attention, selective perception, and selective retention ensure that what one concludes on any particular issue might not be rooted in scientific fact.

’Til the Facts Get in the Way

For decades people reported being abducted by Martians, until telescopes and surface probes conclusively showed no intelligent life on Mars, at least for the past million years. Facts can be quite inconvenient. Those who claimed “Martian abduction” sauntered away only to be replaced by those who claimed “alien abduction” which opened up an array of abduction “possibilities.”

What can we expect in the future? Within a few years, more than 7/8 of the planet will have access to the Internet, and eventually nearly everyone will. Yet a high level connectivity does not ensure that the facts of vital and emerging issues are ingested sufficiently around the globe.

When seven out of eight billion people have online connectivity, given the human propensity to color and distort even the most basic of phenomena, expect an even greater level of Babel-like misunderstandings and missed connections.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Education

Academic Underachievement As a Permanent Condition

Academic achievement occurs through individual effort: One boy and one girl after another rising above

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On the state and local level, as decisions are made about how and in what form we will educate the nation’s children, an age-old issue remains. The underlying causes of income inequality and civil unrest likely has less to do with media-inflamed coverage and more to do with a lingering issue that few people want to earnestly discuss: educational disparity.

In virtually every U.S. school system, the disparity year after year, decade after decade, and even longer, in mathematics competency, reading proficiency, test scores, honor roll status, and graduation rates, between African American students and other students is disturbing.

A Disturbing Reality

Here in the third decade of the third millennium, with a male African American high school dropout rate at 40% across the U.S., can anyone view the situation optimistically? Any responsible American would understandably be concerned.

As Eric Hanushek, who is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, as well as a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, exclaimed “It’s remarkable.” Following his extensive analysis of the situation, he remarked, “I knew that the gap hadn’t been closing too much, but when I actually looked at the data I was myself surprised.”

In one community after another, and one school system after another, when strenuous efforts to bridge the gap do not bear fruit, invariably someone yells “foul,” as if some grand conspiracy is occurring and a magic wand, yet to be waved, could suddenly redress all. And, as if hard-working, dedicated teachers are not attempting their utmost for each of their students.

An Undesired Path

Consider the school system in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, North Carolina. This locale, deemed, “The southern part of heaven,” by a variety of writers, is among the most progressive in the United States. The teachers and educators here have a vested interest in demonstrating that their school system, beyond all others, can succeed in the vital area of closing achievement gaps between whites and minorities.

Nevertheless, year in and year out the gap remains. So, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education becomes primed to try anything! Another in an endless line of supposed “fixes” was to eliminate the advanced math classes in the middle schools and to lump all non-pre-algebra students together, with similar plans to eliminate other advanced classes such as in language arts.

Just as you cannot easily erect a sound building on quicksand, and you cannot expect to solve a decades-old problem by starting with a shaky foundation. Taking a lowest common denominator approach to developing school curriculum has never consistently worked, anywhere. It frustrates the students and dramatically increases a teacher’s burden – all such students must then be taught at individual learning speeds. Do you know any superhuman teachers? If so, could you afford them?

Face the Real Issues

Permanently closing the academic gap between underachieving students and the rest of the student population requires addressing reality – airing the truth about the disparity – not resorting to politically “correct” psychobabble and curricula finagling for another ten years, and then another ten, and then another.

This disparity encompasses such issues as the number of hours the television is on in given households, family or parental encouragement for completing homework assignments, a regular workspace, and established hours for studying in a quiet environment, among other factors.

Until solid analysis, exploration, and programs that address these issues are undertaken, no amount of wrangling with classes will prove to be the “winning formula.” And, school boards will have no chance of effectively addressing the continuing problem of poor academic performance among student groups.

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story The Sign of Four, detective Sherlock Holmes says, “…When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” The schools in U.S. communities routinely exhaust talented teachers with a task that cannot be solved by them, nor is it theirs to solve.

Students Eager to Learn

However improbable to those who wish to pretend otherwise, academic achievement occurs through individual effort: One boy and one girl after another rising above and cracking the books, then coming to class as serious students, eager to learn, and primed to excel. Such achievement is not likely to occur any other way.

Otherwise, expect that income inequality and civil unrest will continue for decades into the 21st century.

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Education

When America Loses THIS, It Loses Everything

We are in a battle for the soul of our country. And that battle is over truth.

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We are in a battle for the soul of our country. And that battle is over truth. Truth must be the foundation of everything that we believe, honor, value, and esteem. If we don’t know what truth is, how can we stand for America? The left is at war with the truth and tries to reposition what it is that we believe to be true so that they can change society. We must stand for truth. PolitiCrosssing founder Chris Widener expands on the need to fight for truth in the short video below.

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