Liberal arts majors are a diminishing species of college student. In fact, I’m proud of the pre-med track my granddaughter is taking at Temple University. Specially proud that she’s a good writer.
But in five minutes today, a slew of ideas crossed my mind. I whipped them up as a series of prompts for Megan to develop for her erstwhile blog. I know she’ll put her own spin on them, but meantime I’ll try them out on you….
Some Sharp Scribbled Sticks for Pointers
Anne Murphy Paul, a science writer, said, “Character is created by encountering and overcoming failure.” In reviewing How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough in the New York Times 8/26, she explains that American children miss essential life experiences. They’re insulated by doting parents who “baby proof” them and shield them from adversity. Poor children, however, get little support to help them turn obstacles into character-enhancing triumphs.
Q. Are young adults today floating on a cloud that carries them over obstacles, preventing them from learning from life’s difficulties? How do you view adversity? As something to be avoided at all costs or as a learning experience?
* * *
Many schools have given up teaching cursive writing. Indeed, with all the texting and typing we do, cursive may be a relic of the past. Some research at Indiana University has shown, however, that learning and using cursive leads to more adult-like brain development in children who write by hand. There’s more information on a blog at http://campaignforcursive.blogspot.com.
Q. Would you prefer that your kids learn cursive (even if they hate it). And, do you think there’s still a place for people to use cursive?
* * *
Every generation looks back on youth and wonder, “Where is civilization heading?” (Socrates, I’ve heard, also voiced this question.) Young people seem predisposed to shake up their world — challenging authority, their teachers, government, culture. Sure, there was the “quiet generation” in the 1950s, and people seem more restrained during hard economic times. But the 1960s and ‘70s were a time of great demonstrations against the status quo.
Q. Are young people predisposed to turn everything upside down, or should they just shut up and go along with the mainstream?
* * *
Most people seem to believe national prosperity leads to happiness, but one poll suggests a minority (47%) don’t believe money equates to “happiness.” In fact, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently noted, “the ultimate objective of our policy decisions” is to promote well-being — a broader consideration than simply having more money. The Himalayan country of Bhutan has even given up its “gross domestic product” measurement for a “gross national happiness” measurement.
Q. Should the U.S. concentrate on physical, mental and spiritual health; time balance; social and community vitality; cultural strength; educational levels; living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality and drop all this effort to make more money? How would we measure “happiness”?