Balance Amid Extremes - Part 5
In these posts, we have considered the benefits of balance and recognized that there is an imbalance in current educational efforts, which favors the sciences over the humanities, and has caused colleges and businesses to spend millions of dollars for remedial classes in basic skills that could have been taught in elementary and middle school. We noted that some of history's best thinkers were well-schooled in the humanities and in the sciences, that work ethics as well as academics benefit students, and that making connections between the two hemispheres of the brain is key to learning. So, how can balance in education be achieved?
Balanced Thinking (Balance amid Extremes - Part 4)
These posts began with the suggestion that the teaching of subjects in school is out of balance, that currently the emphasis is on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and that an imbalance of subject matter weakens student achievement. Next, I presented three examples of men who balanced their studies and work and are considered to be among the greatest minds of the last 500 years. Then we looked at an educational plan that balanced intellect and industry, so that dreams could put on work clothes and be achieved. This post will deal with balance within the brain itself or having a "balanced brain."
Dreams Need Work Clothes (Balance Amid Extremes -- Part 3)
The buzz word in education for the last decade has been S.T.E.M., an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math, which was first used by the National Science Foundation to develop interest in the subjects represented by the acronym. The educational community embraced the acronym when studies showed that students in the U.S. ranked behind other countries in the areas of reading, science, and math. However, after more than a decade of attention on the S.T.E.M subjects, statistics show that American students' levels of proficiency in those subjects has actually fallen further below the average of our economic partners (http://www.businessinsider.com/pisa-rankings-2013-12).
In my first posts, I suggested that there is a lack of balance in the emphases on subjects studied in schools (public, private and home). We glanced at three great minds (DaVinci, Pascal, and Franklin) to note the balance of subject matter that they assimilated in their studies and work. None leaned more heavily to one field than to another. Could that be part of their genius and success? What other factors may have contributed to their legacies?
Franklin often suggested in his writings that a strong work ethic was essential. "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise" has been used by parents to coax children to bed for over two centuries. A perusal of Franklin's other quotes, which can be found in abundance online and elsewhere, will indicate the value the patriot set on a strong work ethic. One of his more descriptive quotes is "Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes."
Balance Amid Extremes -- Part 2
In brain-storming for this blog, I have found that just the topic of "balance" could carry a blog for years. We're told to eat a balanced diet, to balance our budget and checkbooks, and to lead a balanced lifestyle. Our government was built on a system of checks and balances; the goddess of justice holds balanced scales in her hand; and wars are raged and diplomats negotiate for a balance of power between nations.
Is balance important?
Balance Amid Extremes
We seem to live in a world of extremes*. If you want the greatest thrill or the most action or the largest fountain drink, go for the "extreme." If you want to see the greatest weight loss, the most amazing renovation, or the most rock bands in one arena, look for the listing with "extreme" in the title.
Heroes go to extremes to save or care for others. Workers go to extremes to succeed in their jobs Families and friends go to extremes to love and protect those they hold most dear. In those cases, the connotation of "extreme" is, to most people, positive.
On the flip side, if someone disagrees with your political opinions, holds fast to a religious faith or some other belief, or argues a point for which you just don't care, he is an "extremist," and the connotation is not favorable.
My question is: What has happened to balance?