Word of Mind, Word of Mouth

A diet of critical thinking: Planet needs to lose WAIT

When is the right time to work for needed change? How about now?

Special to The CambrianSeptember 2, 2013 

Dianne 'Lady Tie Di' Brooke

BERT ETLING — betling@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

When I drove up here today to San Jose for a four-day class, I was rolling over and over in my head the title of a book I’d seen earlier on a client’s table, “World Peace Diet.” It is not literally a recipe book but it does discuss food — our culture and connection to each other and the planet and how they revolve around this essential item in our lives.

I’m about to cram into my brain tools for reframing our daily lives. Well, along those lines, I could sure come up with a diet for world peace. It would start by telling everyone to “Wake Up!” “When is now the right time to make a change?”

While I am encouraged by some reports of how motivated and innovative many in the “younger generation” are to turn the world’s crash course around, do you think that is soon enough? Not only soon enough, but will it be enough with us fogies now also assuming responsibility?

With the elite naysayers of all that is wrong in the world starting to be drowned out by those who actually mostly populate the planet (or those that actually care about our survival), it is time to take heart and take back control of the world around you. A great place to start is to educate yourself alongside your kids. If you don’t have kids, get some.

The website, www.teach hub.com/5-brilliant-tips-teaching-current-events-younger-students, while geared toward professional educators, offers a couple of solid tips for sharing world affairs with youngsters. One of the things parents don’t necessarily consciously set out to do is teach critical thinking skills. The newspaper is a good place to start.

This process, in a daily news context, presupposes one has an open enough mind to see both sides of an issue. One could take two possible positions from an article — “The teachers had a good reason to strike” or “When teachers go on strike, it sets a bad example for kids” — and have students move to the part of the room that best describes their opinion. The students could then explain their reasons for having that point of view.

Obviously, this can be done over the dinner table. Debate is a great way to stimulate conversation, as well as thinking skills. Playing devil’s advocate, while annoying at times, does get one to think at different levels!

“For young children, current events and the news can sometimes be scary or upsetting. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss the news, but we should find ways to overcome feelings of despair. It is helpful to give children ways to feel more in control of the situation by doing something about it. For example, if you are discussing the increase of homeless children nationally, brainstorm ideas with students of what you can do about it.”

Likewise, global warming, general pollution and misuse of our planetary resources, and violence are all topics that can and should be discussed (Vietnam was a daily topic in this grammar school student’s life) if backed with understanding, accurate, nonreactionary facts and possible solutions. It’s never too early but it could always be too late.

Dianne Brooke’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email her at ladytiedi@gmail.com, or visit her website at www.ladytiedi.com.

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