In the two decades since MTV captured the restless souls and short attention spans of our youth, it has become increasingly evident that teaching and learning require new strategies. The classroom lecture is dead, reading is an endangered art, and memorization belongs next to exorcism in the dustbin of discarded teaching arts.
Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.” So Jim Collins begins his book, Good to Great, a study of how 11 companies made the transition from being merely good to great.
Some have suggested that recent scandals in the world of business, politics and the academy are practical consequences of a worldview that has pushed God out. Morality needs God, the argument goes, and without God the social fabric will be torn by uncontrolled greed, lust for power and striving for glory.
As a preacher and teacher, I make my living telling stories. While I know people who say that they “use” stories to make important points, I am one of those listeners who consistently remember the stories and forget the points.
Six years before he died, American philosopher William James filled out a questionnaire about religious experience. He was asked, among other things, “Do you pray?” His answer was forthright: “I can’t possibly pray.
The focus of geriatric doctors on testing for memory loss, which leads to possible diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s, is part of a war against the old, according to Margaret Morganroth Gullette, resident scholar at Brandeis University. She likens it to educators being preoccupied with testing schoolchildren. “‘Dementia’ is a label that dehumanizes,” she says. What aging people need is social support, which itself can enhance a sense of well-being that contributes to better memory. “In thinking about memory loss, we do well to remember two simple precepts,” she says. “Do not panic about your own. Be gentle toward other people’s” (Interpretation, April).