Executive Director for Governmental Relations, National Association of State Title I Directors
To articulate Five Things I believe is an interesting challenge. In reality, I only believe in two things: God and love. In many ways I believe that God's greatest gift is love; the rest is more along the lines of things I think of as a core concepts. In this way I find great joy in the teachings of Plato and Aristotle and the continued argument over the construct(s) of knowing, knowledge, and how it drives the framework of our belief in mankind's ability to understand.
We really don't know how important nurturing is in comparison to nature.
It is pretty clear that a poor environment can restrict how well any person will do. But we don't seem to have a good idea of how much a nurturing environment can overcome the limits our bodies place on us. On the individual level, sometimes it seems like a child has certain limits or certain specific skills, then we find that the conditions have changed and, while they may not be excelling, they are making progress in ways we never expected. On a community level, raising the number of calories a child receives and the quality of the calories seems to make a significant difference in not only how the average height of a community can increase, but also increases the ability of those children to learn. Perhaps the concept should never have been postulated as an argument of nature vs. nurture but rather a concept that links the two together and allows for each to influence the other.
Another question that seems to be miscast is the notion of mind and the brain.
The fascinating data from the fMRI may well be swept away as more precise information is found. It may well be that the data from the brain that is lighting up the film; should be firing our imaginations. It is that research itself is a double-edged sword. On one edge it gives us information; while on the other it is only what we can observe and define. Frequently, it is treated as the correct answer, when in reality it is only the best we have today.
“A nation that expects to be ignorant and free, in the state of civilization, expects what never was and will never be.”
This is as true today as when Jefferson penned it in a letter in 1816. Education benefits more than just the recipient. We all benefit. While many are making the argument that completing high school or college will benefit only the individual, Jefferson made the argument that the nation as a whole benefits. While Jefferson was most likely reflecting the values of the day, today these words point us to a much richer direction of meaning in that we all benefit from each individual's thinking and problem-solving skills.
Knowledge doesn’t make a person wise; wisdom is in the asking of questions.
Questioning means we are self-aware of what we don't know, it identifies that we are not certain of old answers and that we are not afraid that our answers invite more questions as do the answers from our leaders, our neighbors and others around us. In short the concept is in linking the question not to an answer but to more questions.
Lists like these should never be completed; they are only a work in progress.
One of the precepts of the Benedictine notion of prayer is that one's life's work is each person’s prayer. We all seek meaning in our daily lives and wish to make a difference by what we do. Part of making a difference is by questioning, being curious, and continually growing.
The views expressed on this site are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pearson Foundation.
Rich Long focuses on changing government policy as it applies to literacy and educating students living in some of our poorest communities. Rich’s policy work explores key issues of why some ideas of education reform work, and how they can be applied to new situations. He has worked with the International Reading Association for over 30 years and the National Title I Association for 15 years. He speaks on education public policy and is currently working on a book: The Hidden Caldron: the Paradox of American Education Reform.
He holds a doctorate in counseling from the George Washington University and he and his wife have two adult children.