Reading LIst

#CitizensRead: “Gumption” and the Battle Cry of a Decent People

#CitizensRead: “Gumption” and the Battle Cry of a Decent People

By

American founders worried about limiting our expectations if we only understood ourselves through lists. In the original case, the question revolved around the perils of listing fundamental rights. That list became our Bill of Rights, a document that many mistake for the sum total of their constitutional rights. That’s what Madison was afraid would happen. More than two hundred and twenty-five years later, Nick Offerman has his own list for us and a powerful example of how to understand lists as a set of forward-looking propositions that require our participation. In Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest…

Read More
Reading List: The Warmth of Other Suns

Reading List: The Warmth of Other Suns

By

If you’ve ever taught the Civil Rights Movement or even had a conversation about it, there’s a book you should read. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson reminded me of one of my favorite classroom moments talking about the Movement. It also made me re-think what I taught while I was there. First, that classroom moment… It was Black History month and two of my students asked to interview me about the Civil Rights Movement for the morning’s video announcement program. This was not an easy question for me. I was not a subscriber to these (sometimes) empty…

Read More
Reading List: Longitude and How We Know

Reading List: Longitude and How We Know

By

We think KNOWING is so easy that we approach the unknowable with suspicion. Longitude by Dava Sobel and William J.H. Andrews is a worthwhile read if only to challenge the certainty of our suppositions. Modern precision is grounded in countless struggles with imprecision. Anyone who believes the modern world is a simple one should read Dava Sobel’s Longitude. Lucky for us, many of our modern luxuries make this historical puzzle of knowing your location an interesting story rather than a daily challenge. It’s as easy as an app on a smartphone, the right Google search string or clicking a city…

Read More
Citizen’s Conundrum: Dirt, Data and Digging Out

Citizen’s Conundrum: Dirt, Data and Digging Out

By

Now showing: “every utterance, every court filing, every public transaction, every burp, every miscue.” In an interesting read, Jack Shafer wonders about the state of our politics “now that we have dirt on everyone.” While some debate the power of the Internet to democratize even the most authoritarian regimes, we should consider its role in making our politics dirtier than ever. Shafer describes the shift by comparing a campaign’s opposition research to mining for gold: The past no longer matters to the political present the way it once did, because we have such better access to it today. Just 15…

Read More
The Not So Radical American

The Not So Radical American

By

Watching William Gibson’s “No Maps for These Territories,” I found one brief moment in the film that resonated with a million other moments in time. The famous science fiction author wanted to describe his work and to explain why he has never seen himself as a visionary. He said we live in an incomprehensible present and his work attempts to illuminate it. His work brought light to better see the now rather than forecasting the future. That might be a way to describe our work at the National Academy and our discussions on Politicolor too. Civic education has to share…

Read More

The Wave, Human Nature, and Our Radical Evolution

By

Published in 2005, Joel Garreau’s Radical Evolution offers multiple perspectives on the future of human kind.  Interviewing world-class thinkers, engineers, and philosophers, the author examines not only our decisions, but our decision making process—for the heart of Garreau’s thesis maintains that human nature changes. We’ve all wondered whether we’re still part of that process.  Over the years, our species has gradually removed ourselves from the brutality of natural selection.  Americans, especially, have enjoyed long periods without significant culling; so do we yet evolve?  Garreau thinks so.  Physically, we create medicine that can alter our appearances and heal our wounds, while…

Read More