My eye was caught by Alan Chartok’s comment about “stop and frisk” in my local The Columbia Paper: “If you ask the general population their opinion, you had had better believe that they’ll take the stop and frisk as long as it is someone else who is being frisked.”
Is there anything that schools can do that would help citizens understand the trouble with this kind of thinking. In a racist society–one in which the odds are that the white majority lives largely separated from the people of color, this kind of “them” and “us” thinking survives without much trouble, politically at least. It would have to be a pretty powerful kind of schooling for this “habit of mind” to wither away and truly be replaced with the one virtually all subscribe to: don’t do unto others….etc.
In general the reason we focus on “habits of mind” at CPE/MH et al is precisely because they are so powerful–the common sense, intuitive response to the world as it is. We rarely ask for evidence if we agree with the speaker. (Nor do most fact-checkers!) We rarely notice when we fall into making “common sense” assumptions about the correlation between x and y. We take for granted that there is an inevitability to our status–if we hold a superior status.
And this is true for people with a doctoral degree or high school drops outs–except perhaps in one’s own special field/job/hobby of interest.
In fact, it seems that those who have the most money and the most years of schooling have less trouble doing for themselves what’s best for themselves than other folks. Could it be that more years of schooling-as-we-know-it the more inclined we may be to understand our own self-interests?
Could we document this? Or have we? And what difference would it make it it were true?
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