I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was taking on some new reading and already the threads of that reading have been converging!
First, bias and technology. I’ve been doing a lot of study over the past few months about diversity in the classroom – microagressions and bias, particularly. In other areas I’ve been reading about technology in the classroom. And in others about recent neuroscience and how it plays out in the classroom.
Last weekend, all of those seemed to converge in a faculty research event! What if we could find a way to merge some of those… what if… what if…. what if…
Second, politics and compassion – or less succinctly but more accurately: Faith in Action and Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life! Faith in Action is a way our church supports folks as they put their faith into action in the world in a variety of ways. Some marched in the Climate March, some are seeing documentaries, some are praying, some are giving, etc. etc. etc.!
Karen Armstrong’s 12-step book is about the underlying theme of compassion in all the world’s religions but particularly in Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And the more I read, the more I wonder what if living out our faith in the world became an act of compassion… what if… what if… what if….
Third, our big brains. One of Armstrong’s points is that humans developed larger brains on top of the small reptile brains of our ancestors. And as our brains got bigger, we had to be born earlier before our heads got too big! So humans are basically born prematurely, requiring more years of nurture before we are able to live on our own.
And then, because our brains are able to do more, we learned how to get beyond survival so some of us had time to think about philosophy, create religions, develop more complicated lives. But that all depended on class distinctions where some folks had leisure time while others worked for them. Which takes me to another book I’m reading lately – Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market – where the life of gentility was created out of the ownership of other human beings and a horrifying lack of compassion.
Finally, this morning, I’m reading a NY Times article that someone mentioned in yesterday’s discussion group about Armstrong’s book: We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment. The author said that we call ourselves Homo Sapiens but that isn’t very accurate because we aren’t really very “wise.” What we should better be called is “homo prospectus” – people who contemplate the future. People who ask what if… what if… what if…
The article ties to almost all the rest of this rambling post – to recent neuroscience, to the need all of us have for time to think in larger ways than just survival, to what it means to be able to plan, which apparently makes all of us happier (and maybe more compassionate?) people!
I’ve yet to sort through what all of this means but I’m sensing that I’m doing some Homo Prospectus work, some prospecting into my future. Hopefully, it will include a large dose of compassion to overcome bias and class distinctions, a good bit of happiness, and, always my faith in action!
As always, I invite your big brain to think along with me!