Front page of the 2012.1.1 Launch

Location of this page: http://howothersthink.com/2012.htm

This site is hosted by Frank Forman, a retired economist at the U.S. Department of Education. e-mail address: checker@panix.com. The great insight I gained is that education needs to move away from emphasizing content (beyond mastering the three Rs) toward enabling one to draw insights from a variety of ways of thinking. Culture lag means that reform in education comes slowly. What this site will try to do is to offer modules that enable you to gain something of a hands-on familiarity with how economists, historians, engineers, and many, many more, approach problems in diverse but ultimately compatible ways. My hope is that you will be able to imagine how those in these disciplines will approach a problem and also how to conduct focused research on the Internet. I call this skill hyperlink thinking. It is a true twenty-first thinking skill, not available to the world until the first graphics Web browsers in 1994 and barely to researchers who could chase from floor to floor in top-notch academic libraries.

This site, http://howothersthink.com is run by my Internet Service Provider, Panix, which automatically redirects you to my permanent site http://www.panix.com/~checker.

If you are already on the site and click the link, say, to Letters from Ada Woodward to Her Parents, 1912 [woodward.htm] or are off the site and type in the full address http://howothersthink.com/woodward.htm, you will actually be fetching http://www.panix.com/~checker/woodward.htm .
This file is part of my other retirement project, to put 10,000 78 r.p.m. records and a bunch of out of copyright LPs onto the Web so the world can come listen to these great old recordings for free. I'll discuss this at the end.

What you will read now is highly preliminary. It consists of thoughts put together from various but also preliminary things I have written. I do want to get something out now. I shall be writing the economics module. It should be equivalent of about a semester's study. You get out of learning only what you put into it! And I invite others to contribute their own modules.

I hope to keep the temperature of this site down and so want to avoid, above all, controversies over politics. Understanding those who hold different views is indeed helpful, when that understanding avoids psychologizing, but I am concerned here with disciplines and with helping you get a hands-on feeling for many different ones.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Introduction
II. The Aftermath of Math
III. A Highly Preliminary Grouping of the Ways of Thinking
IV. Filters and Maxims
V. Language and Trade: A Concrete Example of Multi-Disciplined Hyper-Link Thinking
VI. Some Promising Looking Books

I. INTRODUCTION

One great insight I gained, but realized at length, is the severe culture lag between the world and the educational system. The educational system is still dominated by what is known as the essentialist philosophy of education, namely that there is a knowable body of subjects students need to learn and a knowable content for each one. This may have been suitable to an Eisenhower-era of mass production and standardized parts, even as services became more important than manufacturing in 1957, when Ike was still President!

But essentialism is not suitable today. What is needed is a smaller emphasis on content and a larger emphasis on hands-on familiarity with different ways of thinking. We have all heard the jokes about the economist, the engineer, the historian, the sociologist, and a can of beans. But, seriously, members of each profession are oriented in different ways. As a first go at it, an economist will seek to find out the exact choice situation, an engineer how the system may have broken down and how to set things right by tinkering, a historian for parallels from the past, a sociologist for how systems get valued the way they do. Despite their sometimes pretensions, none of these ways of thought is superior to the other, much less so grand that they encompass all the others.

What is more and more becoming important is not to remember the content of courses (and who now remembers from the ninth grade what the quadratic formula is or what a volt times an amp is, outside of the at best ten percent of students who will ever have occasion to remember later in life?) but to be able to look at a situation with the eyes of an economist, an engineer, and many more.

No one could stay in school long enough to become credentialled in every major way of thinking. My hope with this site is to provide modules toward developing hand-on familiarity with diverse ways of thinking. As an economist, I will try to characterize the fundamental ways economists see things and suggest readings that will take a certain close study but will be far from a full graduate school education (ways of thought, not content, again) and exercises and projects that have to be gone through with dilligence.

I invite others to correct and add to my presentation but more than that I want to enlist others from other disciplines to contribute their own modules and give practical examples of how they deployed their own learning. The deep thinking required is a challenge of high order, since it is hard to step outside one's frame of reference, just as it is for a fish to recognize that is surrounded by water.

II. THE AFTERMATH OF MATH

Let me try this from a different angle. Most of you took at least three years of mathematics in high school, and nearly all of you have forgotten the quadratic formula, even among the ten percent or so that ever go on to use even basic algebra at work. That much math is required in school because essentialism says it must be. Those that try to justify making everyone sweat through all this math make vague claims that studying math teaches you "how to think." But how? It teaches you to think mathematically? What is that? Whole conferences have been held by educators on what mathematical thinking consists of. Almost invariably, the definition is circular: you learn how to do mathematics. Well, so what? I ask what is the "aftermath of math"? Both William James and Albert Einstein have been credited with saying that education is what remains after you have forgotten all your schooling.

I found the answer, mentioned in passing, in one of many papers at a conference on mathematical thinking and mathematics education. No, it was not the axiomatic method, which only rarely gets used outside of pure mathematics, the major exception that I know of being Mario Bunge, Foundations of Physics (Springer, 1967). Rather, it was that, to solve a problem, generalize it, solve that, and then apply to the problem at hand. This is exactly what I did over and over again when I majored in math as an undergraduate. It became a habit with me, to always seek a larger context in every situation. Asking for the larger context can produce irritation, often with telling me to stop being so "philosophical," and too often when I am doing something, not for my boss, but for the higher-ups, I can't get an answer. I am quite convinced I do better when I can be told the larger context and not have to guess at it. And yet, not many people understand or feel the need to understand a larger context, though it may be that they pick up that context intuitively while I can't.

So that's the aftermath of math. If this is so, then why not drill students in generalize-solve-apply, spend a semester at it, cover many fields far removed from math, and free up five semesters to develop other habits? I know lawyers, engineers, and physicians have their own characteristic modes of thinking (help me describe them!) but there are precious few undergraduate colleges (and nearly none in high school) that offer one-semester introductions to them. Being an avid math major, I happen to love the stuff, so I am preaching against inclination by saying, except for a semester course in generalize-solve-apply that won't have all that much to do with math anyhow, scrap the math and teach several worldview modules

What I am saying is straight out of Howard Gardner's The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach (1991). He says there are evidently default ways of thinking that will often take hold outside the classroom, that even those with doctorates in physics can resort to Aristotelian physics when moving a joystick around in a computer game. The whole aim of education, no essentialist he, is to thoroughly discipline the mind to deploy new ways of thinking and in places far away from any classroom. He would never deny, nor would I, that there really are things everyone should learn; rather, the emphasis should shift toward discplined ways (plural) of thinking. The school system is not doing this and all my experience at the U.S. Department of Education says this will not happen anytime soon.

You are on your own, with the help of this site, which I hope will get input from others. It will involve work, as it requires hands-on immersion in different ways of thinking and not just reading about them.

What ages am I writing about? I characteristically think of high school, but some of these ways can be imparted early. One skill, reading a graph, is so second nature that it seems first nature, but the first graph was drawn in 1340 by the great Nicole Oresme, of the Universities of Oxford and Paris. Baylonians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Japanese, Indians never hit on it. They fundamentally lacked the idea of continuous change. One might think that the word accelerate, Latin for "toward speed," proves this wrong. In fact it is a term in Medieval Latin, not Classical Latin.

Some are better than others in working with graphs. I suggest graphs be deliberate parts of many courses, kindergarten on up. Also making maps and building things with one's hands. Save car repair, but better to have computer repair, for cars can't be toyed with like they could half a century ago. It will be the most valuable course in high school, not for its content but to give you familiarity with the breakdown of a complex system. Those who did not repair cars when younger but go into computers can design complex programs. Those who did can fix practical problems. This is a genuine "transfer of learning," or an aftermath, as I call it.

The very most valuable course ought to be English, but few teachers make students write, write, and write and then have enough love for their work that they carefully read all the papers. I would spread writing throughout the curriculum and at all ages, even in arithmetic. Have the children articulate why they set up a word problem they way they did. This helps them learn to write better. It also helps them learn to translate a problem from one realm into another, in this case, the language of mathematics. So maybe there's another "aftermath of math" beyond generalize-solve-apply.

I thought this when typing up this introduction. I'll come up with many more and here's hoping that others will join in. I am fond of saying that half or my ideas are idiotic; it's just that I don't know which half. I don't want to spend more time than necessary chasing after bad ideas. Exercise: what would it take you to abandon your two most cherished hypothesis. (Saying "convincing evidence" is circular!)

[Side thought: should writing poems become a part of the curriculum in every grade? It makes you be careful with words? What about playing a musical instrument and painting, which used to be a part of every grade up to somewhere in high school? Or dancing? Just which sports? They do have their aftermaths. Just what they are is hard to say. Any studies will be fraught with the question of what causes what. Come back to them from time to time.]

III. A HIGHLY PRELIMINARY GROUPING OF THE WAYS OF THINKING

I have given much thought to grouping the disciplines by what fundamental perspectives they can offer. I am seeking modules of description of the perspective, readings, and exercises which will give you something of a hands-on familiarity with a way of thinking. Let me be brief, bold, and above all tentative. More than anything else I need to get a handle on the humanities, esp. literary criticism. How does being familiar with the mode of thought, and better perhaps, composing poems and literature, help you think. I need strong advocates!

Analogizing: humanities and the arts, as ways of thinking. Creating literature, music, and painting, as well as performing them, involve different mentalities than writing about them. But here my concern is to virtually bring together representatives of different modes of thought.

Choice: economics, psychology, legislation: Economics is my field and I instantly search out all the costs: if someone advocates better teaching of foreign languages, I ask what will get kicked out of the curriculum. I also ask what is the exact problem and whether there is anything preventing the normal operations of supply and demand from solving the alleged problem.

Deductive: mathematics and many parts of the hard sciences. The language of set theory was rarely found in the sciences fifty years ago. No more. It remains, though, that only a few branches of science have been axiomatized, and the only known example of a full theoretic reduction of one part of science to another, and that only in an ideal situation, namely the reduction of heat to the motion of molecules. Still, using deductive reasoning to draw conclusions that can be tested by experiment is everywhere.

Design: engineering, computer programs, constitutions. There are decided limits about what can be predicted and controlled in advance. The first robots could hardly walk across a room, so complex were the potential number of motions. In due course, designers discovered that letting robots get slightly out of control to learn from the environment is what worked. See Kevin Kelly, Out of Control: The New Logic of Machines (1994).

Eclectic: archeology, forensics. There is little high theory in these fields. Rather they grab pieces of other fields. Getting practice in an eclectic discipline trains the mind.

Historical: evolutionary biology, social, political, and religious histories. History is the accumulation over time of causes random to each other. Realizing this has been called "the discovery of time" that took place during the eighteenth century. Before then history was conceived of as events fitting into a single grand narrative or used as lessons for moral guidance.

Labeling: sociology, psychiatry. Invoking peer pressure or the routinization of charisma does not give much indication of their precise importance (they are hard to quantify), but when they are invoked one says, "Aha! Now I understand," and gets with life. These labels do not even have to correspond with reality (think id, ego, and superego) to be pragmatically useful. Even though we only barely understand them, major depression and bipolar disorders are usefully, even life-savingly, distinct, for each comes with different medication recommendations (recommendations, not sure-fire cures).

Management: The practice of management is different from the theory of management, but my virtual reasoners might well advisedly include someone who knows about the management aspect of a problem.

Multi-Culturalism: To the extent that those in different cultures process the world in fundamentally different ways (and not just my way versus the wrong way), bringing those others into the discussion could well result in fresh insights. Alas, most of the talk about "celebrating diversity" rarely goes beyond superficialities. Still, there is great potential here. (See Edward C. Stewart and Milton J. Bennett, American Cultural Patterns: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (1991).)

Subdividing (less politely called logic chopping, hair splitting, and nitpicking): law, philosophy, writing regulations, theology. Call it hair splitting if you like, but a certain amount of it is inevitable and, within limits, helpful. Law also leads one to imagine the best arguments of opposing counsel, not strawpersons. No other discipline gives one training on undermining one's world view!

Tinkering: car repair, computer repair, medicine, legislation. In a radio interview about his book, The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture (1998), Frank Wilson reported that computer people come in two types, those who worked with cars in their youths and those who had not. The latter were good at designing complex programs, the former in fixing practical problems (such as what to do when a file does not open properly: your friendly computer guy will know what to try when you can't figure out bad instructions using on-screen help.) There is a real "transfer of learning" from car repair that teaches you how to diagnose the breakdown of a complex system, a skill of inestimable value through life. Note that the law comes into play in design (constitutions), tinkering (legislation), and subdividing (writing regulations). Each of these three, I submit, requires different but complimentary modes of thinking.

I disparage none of these disciplined approaches, and will not even hint that all others are inferior to the standard deductive ideal of mathematics and the physical sciences. Rather, we middle-sized, largely ignorant creatures must deploy what methods we can. Because of this, we are irrevocably and irremediably pluralistic (postmodernist) and can only gain partial insights, insights from different disciplined ways of thinking that are, for us middle-sized creatures, impossible to fully reconcile. I also reemphasize that this is a most preliminary list and that only some of them will come into play during any virtual get-together.

IV. FILTER AND MAXIMS

There are plenty of lists of fallacies on the Web, from Aristotle and ad homimen to the Insitute for Propaganda Analysis and bandwagon. I'll be adding links to the (hopefully) most useful ones. All this is not directly intended to help you understand HOW OTHERS THINK but rather to help you control your own thinking and, secondarily, to spot dubious reasoning in others. Best to think critically about yourself than critize others!

I shall be adding to these and explaining them, sometimes at length. I'll try to organize them, too.

1. Place yourself in the exact knowledge situation of your audience. This is by far the single greatest reason for poor communication and misunderstanding.

2. Why are we here? What is the exact problem? Will what we want come about whether we do anything?

3. What are some stubborn facts? Warm-blooded animals require ten times as much food as cold-blooded ones. Within a narrow range, the body heats up when more food is injested and cools down when exercise is expended. If one's thermostat is off by a fraction of percent, obesity (and rarely the opposite) results. If he eats less, his temperature goes down, but his thermostat is still off. Same if he exercises. Why is the thermostat rarely mentioned in the voluminous literature on obesity?

I would ask you to send me your stubborn facts, but I fear that they would be taken to be your riding your own hobby horses.

4. Ask the reverse question. Not why is there war, why is there ever peace. Not why we sleep but why, given that being awake uses more calories, are we as awake as much as we are, beyond undertaking the four F's, feeding, fleeing, fighting, and sex?

5. Why are there no signs of convergence on a consensus? Is the problem mostly over words? Are there material interests at stake?

6. Reverse question: why is consensus ever reached? Stubborn truth seekers that follow Mr. Jefferson's description of the University of Virginia, "For here we are to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." The answer is ultimately sociological. Randall Collins, in The Sociology of Philosophies (1999) convinced me that, in the sciences, it is not as though all objections have been answered, so much as scientists getting new equipment and prefering to chase after new results. Old controversies don't get settled; they just get abandoned.

But in too many cases, social pressures force a consensus.

7. Change can be explained only by a previous change. This one, esp., calls for elaboration.

8. Optimum rarely equals maximum or minimum. Have to come up with examples away from political ones.

9. Question failure to produce data-driven, positive evidence FOR a point of view, esp. when the proponents have the wherewithal to gather the evidence. I'll try to come up with some that are not too contentious.

10. How do the boundaries between respectable views and those out to lunch, off the wall, and over the top get set. This is a sociological question.

11. Be aware of the often arbitrary clustering of opinion in subcultures and pressures to conform within it. [Explain.]

12. I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Ecclesiastes 9:11

13. Everything comes in degrees.

14. Everything is variable. Be historically minded.

15. Distinguish process and product.

16. Distinguish the rules of the game, the players of the game, and the outcome of the game.

17. Don't think that you are completely objective. Your views are shaped by your internalization of previaling norms and also by your own personality type. It is humbling to realize that your views can be categorized.

18. Check your Premises.

V. LANGUAGE AND TRADE: A CONCRETE EXAMPLE OF MULTI-DISCIPLINE HYPER-LINK THINKING

I was called upon, in my work in international matters at the U.S. Department of Education to do some research on the relationship between foreign language learning and foreign trade for a conference on the subject held by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, a trade organization like the European Union, but on the other side of the world.

Choice: Economics: I was first called upon to research what the economic literature had to say. I knew already that studies would be few, not helpful, and even bad. The main reason is that it is almost impossible to disentangle cause and effect: would getting kids and adult to learn more foreign languages itself generate more trade, or does increased trade spontaneously induce kids and adults to improve their foreign language skills? The studies don't say. My instinctive question is whether there is some major barrier to learning as much of a foreign language as one's self-interest suggests. I found no allegations of any. I would also ask, though others certainly benefit from having one's trading partner learn one's language, whether the chief beneficiary is the learner? I would even ask why increased trade is something good in itself, except that Frederic Bastiat (1801-50) already said "if goods don't cross borders, armies will."

There was one interesting but unsurprising result, namely that knowledge of each others' languages is more important for conducting foreign investment than for engaging in foreign trade.

Cumulative: Human Social History: Not finding much in the economic literature, I hyperlinked to a different discipline, history, and here I found some fascinating and insightful stuff. What is the history of languages used in foreign trade? Was one ever developed just for the purposes of trade? Existing languages, in a simplified ("pidgin") form have been put to use, an early example being Akkadian, the language of the Assyrians, which went far beyond the boundaries of its empire. In time, the Assyrians would adopt Aramaic as their international language of trade, since Aramaic used an alphabet. (See William M. Schniedewund, How the Bible Became a Book: The Textualizatin of Ancient Israel 2004.)

Diaspora traders also spread trade languages. Yiddish is the best-known example, and there is also Armenian, an Indo-European language with thirty-eight letters. These are not new languages as such. One that was new was Chinese Pidgin, made up of words from Chinese, English, and Portugese (big traders at the time). The language was not to last, as the linguistic demands of trade increased. Nevertheless, certain expressions have passed into standard English as humorous examples of a simplified English, such as "long time no see" and "no can do."

Chinese Pidgin, like other pidgins, just grew up. The only example I have been able to find of a deliberately constructed language for trade is "Chinook Jargon." This consists of 200 words for things used by some fifty American Indian tribes in Oregon and Washington, the Chinook Indians being only of them. Though there are linguistic arguments that this common vocabulary was already in development when White traders moved into the area, especially with the founding of Fort Astoria in Oregon in 1811, and wrote the words down. There are separate words for black bear and brown bear, and new words from French and English for concepts that were unknown to the Indians, such as gun and devil, an idea that came along with the inevitable missionaries to the area. (The early decision by the Pope that Indians had souls that could be saved is among the most consequential actions ever that seemed only minor at the time.) Words that have passed into general English are, potlach, a gift giving ceremony, and [a big] muck-a-muck.

Chinook Jargon had no words for contracts, and it also passed into disuse when trade became complex enough to demand such terms. On the other hand, I was unable to find a trade language for common use along the Silk Road. There certainly was the trade but not the sheer linguistic density as there was in Oregon and Washington. On the other hand, Papua New Guinea is even denser in languages, but still no trade language, evidently for the lack of enough trade.

The historical moral is that trade languages will appear under certain conditions but will fall into disuse when the legal demands exceed their small sizes. This is valuable to know but not captured by economic studies.

Sidebar

The Lord's Prayer in Chinook Jargon
from Horatio Hale, M.A., F.R.S.C:
An International Idiom: A Manual of the Oregon Trade Language or "Chinook Jargon" (London: Whittaker & Co., 1890)
[http://books.google.com/books/download/An_international_idiom.pdf?id=w_RLAAAAMAAJ&output=pdf&sig=ACfU3U0_ndE3-3KoSpfB_eqak1vbRdLZWA]

Chinook Jargon/literal translation/1928 Book of Common Prayer (which I added)

Nesika Papa   klaksta mitlite kopa Saghalie,  kloshe
Our    Father who     livest  in   the Above, good
Our    Father who     art     in   heaven,    hallowed [be]

mika nem  kopa konoway kah. Kloshe spose mika chaco
thy  name over everywhere.  Good   if    thou become 
thy  name.                               Thy  come

delate Tyee  kopa konoway tillikums. Kloshe spose mika
true   Chief over all     people.    Good   if    Thy
       kingdom.                                   Thy

tumtum mitlite   kopa illahee kahkwa         kopa Saghalie.  Potlatch
mind   is        on   earth   as         in  the  Above.     Give
will   be [done] on   earth   as [it is] in  heaven.         Give

kopa nesika kopa   okoke sun nesika muckamuck.     Mamook
to   us     during this  day our    food.          Do
     us            this  day our    [daily] bread, [and]

klahowya nesika kopa nesika mesachie mamook, kahkwa
pity     us     for  our    evil     doing,  as
forgive  us          our    --trespasses,--  as

nesika mamook klahowya klaksta man spose yaka
we     do     pity     any     man if    he
we            forgive  those       who

mamook messachie
does   evil
----trespass----

kopa    nesika. Wake mika lolo  nesika kopa kah
to      us.     Not  thou carry us     to   where
against us.     Not       lead  us     --into----

mesachie    mitlite; pe  spose mesachie klap nesika, kloshe
evil        is;      but if    evil     find us,     good
temptation,          but 

mika help nesika tolo okoke mesachie. Delate konoway thou help us conquer that evil. Truly all deliver us from evil. [For thine is the illahee mika illahee, pe mika hias skokum, pe mika delate earth thy earth, and thou very strong, and thou truly kingdom,] and [the power], and hias kloshe; kahkwa nesika tikegh konoway okoke. Kloshe kahkwa. very good; so we wish all this. Good so. [the glory, [forever and ever.] Amen.

[End sidebar]

Subdividing (logic chopping): The majority of English sentences spoken in the world today are between non-native speakers of the language. The problem of language and trade can be finely subdivided and there will be issues peculiar to each, one size definitely not fitting all. Here are some of the chopped pieces:

Even in countries where English is the official or unofficial language or one among more or less equals, words mean different things in different places, sometimes substantially so. The possibility of miscommunication is huge. What might be done about it?

There are also many regional varieties of reduced forms of English, most of which have grown up spontaneously, like Chinglish, Japlish, Korlish, Singlish, and Thaiglish in the obvious countries. Native English speakers will have no problem understanding what what the Korlish sentence, "I have not seen him in so much long time," means, but there are words in these languages that do not at all mean what they do in American or British English. What can be done about miscommunication among them?

There are a number of occupational Englishes, that contain a small number of common words but also many less common words peculiar to the occupation, such as Hotel English and Call Center English. Is there a problem for those wanting to work in hotels or call centers learning these limited languages?

On the other hand, there are more expansive special languages, Business English in China and many other countries, even Legal English in Russia. When taught formally in school, they involve a fairly large vocabulary and fairly complex grammar rules. A different set of problems is involved.

For still more, consult the journal English for Special Purposes. Quiz: Is the English we get in later high school and in college a "special" English, or just "real" English, like "real" coffee (neither frozen or decaffeinated) or a "real" guitar (as opposed to an electric guitar, "real" guitars now being retronymed "acoustic" guitars)? Answer later.

Tinkering: What small tinkerings could be made to improve the learning and use of foreign languages? I have more questions than answers.

*Find out a lot more about how foreign languages are actually learned.

To what extent are foreign languages acquired "just-in-time," through paperback phrase books and introductory lessons, through learning hotel English, call center English, or whatever, on the job, or through after-hours courses online and in places like Berlitz? The BBC has online tests that grade one's knowledge of English. Are scores on these test ever presented to employers? Is one's knowledge of English mostly just informally assessed in conversation? This could have gone under logic chopping.

*Terms used for trade and contracts mean slightly, and sometimes not so slightly, different things in different languages. Make up good dictionaries for them.

*Reconsider the whole assessment business. As I said, essentialism is the basic operative educational philosophy in the world today. However, books read after college almost never contain tests at the end. Why?

Essentialism leads to ready assessment. Grave experts decide on learning objectives, certainly the quadratic formula and what a volt times and amp is. Indeed, there is a survival of the fittest for expertise. Judges in boxing matches, dog grooming contests, wine tasting, and beauty pagents commonly agree within three percent of one another. Disagree with by more and you not grave and are not "fit" to survive as an expert. This could mean that you are not good enough to perceive an underlying reality the experts can, even if it cannot be articulated, or it could mean group-think.

My ideas for promoting that uniquely twenty-first century thinking skill, namely, hyperlink thinking across the disciplines could not possibly go back before 1994. It is simply not possible for even the gravest of experts to assess it.

How can schools promote it, then. And so my final tinker:

*Decentralize

A great strength of America's school system is that it is highly decentralized, meaning that individual school districts and even individual schools and teachers can both experiment and adopt their courses for the concrete needs of the actual students there. For America, the Federal government can help out, not by any sort of central decree about the merits of my ideas or anyone else's, but by reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education act by bypassing the states and letting each county set its own curriculum. Let 3,140 counties bloom! They should be given the widest latitude on how to assess novel courses and measure adequate yearly progress.

In sum, find out more about how languages are actually used and think hard about the structure of educational governance is best suited to flexibly deal with changing situations.

Design: One of my maxims is "Ask the Reverse Question." Not why do we sleep, but why we are ever awake. (Being awake using precious calories, compared to sleeping, why don't we sleep as much as we can get away with.) Not why is there war, but why there is ever peace. And in the context of foreign languages, ask not just how to improve communication by getting people to learn foreign languages better, but just importantly, how miscommunication can be avoided. The fact is that it is costly to learn languages well, and most people, when they don't understand something will not always learn more or even look up words they don't know or are not sure of. Might not it be better, if my knowledge of English is better than yours for me to eschew inserting terms from my idiolect, permeated as it is with inordinately abstruse and erudite terminology, in other words stop using big words? I propose the design of what I call the "Small English" Initiative.

(Answer to quiz: literary English. It is unfortunate that if one wants to study the great German (say) literary masterpieces in college, for the most part one will have to study German. Being able to converse about them in Germany will be a benefit, but so will being able to talk about the Beethoven's Quartets, which contain notes, not words. „Muß es sein?" „Es muß sein!" Well, sometimes.)

VI. SOME PROMISING LOOKING BOOKS

Browne, M. Neil, and Stewart M. Keeley. Ashing the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking. Fifth edition. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Rentice Hall: 1994, 1998.
This may be the most useful textbook on the subject. It is packed with exercises. It is a general book, however, and does not deal with perspectives from different disciplines.

Heyne, Paul (deceased), Peter J. Boettke, and David L. Prychitko. The Economic Way of Thinking. Eleventh edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006.
Another textbook, with excerises and discussion topic. It written from the standpoint of economic processes arising from the actions of individual agents. Might as well get the 11th edition cheap from Bookfinder or Amazon, as the 12th edition is quite expensive. Do check out the reviews of various editions at Amazon Reviews of Heyne
[http://www.amazon.com/Economic-Way-Thinking-12th/dp/0136039855/ref=dp_ob_title_bk]

Killoran, David M. LSAT Logical Reasoning Bible: A Comprehensive System for Attacking the Logical Reasoning Section of the LSAT. Hilton Head Sialand, SC: PowerSource Publishing, 2007. LSAT stands for Law School Admission Test. This is a 541 page, 8½"×11" book of exercises, and they are by no means easy. See the entusiastics Amazon reviews of Killoran.
[http://www.amazon.com/LSAT-Logical-Reasoning-Bible-Comprehensive/dp/0980178258/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321222995&sr=1-1].

But you might as well get an earlier edition used Bookfinder search for Killoranfrom Bookfinder.
[http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=sl&st=sl&ref=bf_s2_a1_t1_1&qi=n,SrbDZMkW1j1zougJWt0lXxfYM_0593535237_1:45:919&bq=author%3Ddavid%2520m%2E%2520killoran%26title%3Dlsat%2520logical%2520reasoning%2520bible%2520a%2520comprehensive%2520system%2520for%2520attacking%2520the%2520logical%2520reasoning%2520section%2520of%2520the%2520lsat]

Miles, Jack. God: A Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995; New York: Vintage Books, 1996.
I found this to be the best book about the Bible. I uses a literary approach, as opposed to the historical approach (when were the books written and by whom, how they underwent editing, and how accurate and unbiased are they regarding the facts) and the theological approach (making an overall consistent sense of the sacred writings). More than any other book I know, this one shows how a different perspective can be illuminating.

Stewart, Edward C., and Milton J. Bennett. American Cultural Patterns: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. Revised edition. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, 1991.
I would very much like to learn how perspectives from different cultures can be as illumiating as perspectives from different disciplines. This book does not offer any answers, but it does show, more deeply than anything I have come across, just how peculiar American culture is.

Veritas Prep. The Complete GMAT Course Set 15 books in 2286 pages. GMAT is the Graduate Management Admissions Test. I have only Critical Resoning 1, and it offers useful practices. Veritas Prep offers courses in many cities. I hestiate to give a strong recommendation, since it is far more expensive per hour of exercises, than KIlloran's LSAT Logical Reasoning Bible. Amazon's page for the entire GMAT Course Set.
[http://www.amazon.com/Complete-GMAT-Course-Set-Veritas/dp/1936240165/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321221679&sr=1-1]
Consult also Veritas's own site.
[http://www.veritasprep.com/]

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