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Notes Towards Day 6: Changing Education

Anne Dalke's picture

Notes towards Day 6 of Food for Thought: Changing Education

I. Coursekeeping
problems/coaching for: logging in? (some anonymous posts, all self-caught)

Play around w/ making your postings more interesting:
add a gr/avatar or images??

II. Do you think there is such a thing as "human nature"?
(Being so "nurtured," how would we know????)

Your responses -->

Em: we need to depend on technology
Julie: the main reason for the problem is that people can't fully understand the effects of something that is so far in the future.
Alicia: Everyone has their own nature...Changing nature...isn't done so easily.
Hilary: I don't think human nature is subject to change.
Ellen: it would take a lot of effort and time in order to change the nature of humans at this point. That being said, there have been various instances at which society has changed significantly.
Rebecca: I think that the idea of nurture leading to changes in our innate nature is most convincing.
Katie: What about other societies?  Do third-world countries really have the resources to become more environmentally friendly?....It is not really human nature that we need to change, but how our society works as a whole.
Julia: I understand the concept of human nature on a grand scale to mean "things groups of people will tend to do"-- general patterns in human behavior....A question that makes more sense to me: is the added layer of artificiality that fake meat inserts between us and our food harmful to us?
Eva: this nature of ours...can not change. We will always be selfish and want more than we need. We will always want to overextend our power.
Kathy: human nature is something that is innate and instinctual....However, I believe that human nature can be affected by how we 'nurture' it
Hoang: It would be almost impossible to change human nature. How many people out there can resist themselves from acting as they desire?
Jessica: Human nature has never changed.
Amy: I don't think that it's possible for us to change human nature, try as we might.

Second question (not really addressed, since most of you think change isn't possible):
what would need to happen, for you to feel that you
could/should/must intervene to change others' perspectives?

III. Brainstorming/reporting in: tomorrow's papers

Peter's add'l suggestion, taking off from the goal stated at the top of the sustainability page ->
"Bryn Mawr College Dining Services is committed to providing the most environmentally friendly dining program possible and one that supports the BMC Community." Investigate how a current offering reflects that goal. Are there hidden costs to reaching it?

go 'round again and talk about what you're going to do/give each other a hand up....
(also review our names...?)

IV. Today's NYTimes articles:
environmental cost of shipping groceries around the world,
AND of eating locally
--and the problem of too much info/education!

A. Rosenthal on the environmental costs of shipping groceries around the world:
expect food we crave with no concession to season, geography
practicality of increasingly efficient global transport networks
cost: pollution
fuel for international freight not taxed-->time to pay environmental costs!
food that travels may have environmental advantage over local products:
reduced time, labor costs, valuable jobs
but emissions in packaging & refrigeration
"merely responding to consumer appetites: job is not consumer choice editing"
"labeling food miles is merely protectionism"
unfortunately educated consumers to expect cheap food

B. Williams on the problem w/ education, aka "green noise"

information overload and conflicting advice: static
green backlash, green fatigue, need to simplify/cheat sheet
unsubstantiated claims of eco-pitchmen
psychological barriers to taking action:
not motivated by more facts; reinforced helplessness
select depth of info desired: prioritize environmental concerns;
bundle 'em, show connections
teach patience: century-long process; fear of burnout

we want simple answers, but are being educated into their absence--
and the means to move forward??
explicit example:

C. Martin's "If it's local is it greener?:
provocative questions about the carbon footprint of food...
threaten to undermine some of the feel-good locavore story line:
the fact that something is local doesn’t necessarily
mean that it is better, environmentally speaking

V. Education and Choice
In his 1942 essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus argued that
"There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide.
Deciding whether or not life is worth living....All other questions follow from that."

In his 2005 Kenyon College commencement address, David Wallace said , in part, that

the really significant education in thinking that we're supposed to get in a place like this is...about the choice of what to think about....learning how to think really means...being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed....This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education...You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't....The alternative is unconsciousness.

Does this apply to your experience here? :)
How? ;)

VI. homework upcoming:

Papers due 5 p.m. Friday

Meet @ Pem Arch by 12:30 Saturday for
field trip to Pete's Produce;
will be back by 3:30

Reading for Tuesday
--> next selection in packet:
article from 9/07 New York Times Magazine about how we know what makes us healthy
series of letters in response (looking @ what makes a conversation productive)
shorter 4/08 NYTimes article asking what wellness, how to achieve it

all this to introduce a new 3-week-long section-->
PART II of course on "selecting our data" (=doing science)