Know & Learn & Train & Teach
This is a focus area with a heavy title, and one's that's pretty self-explanatory. It's called out as a focus area because gaps in these areas are part of what has contributed to the fix we're in in the U.S. Hard to pin down when it started, but the cracks came to the surface perhaps more clearly than ever before in the 2016 presidential election. Now in a worldwide pandemic catastrophe, the U.S. takes itself to new levels; highlighting gaps that led to this specific focus area: the need to know and learn and train and teach.
You may ask: Know and learn and train and teach WHAT?
The answer: ANYTHING HELPUL, AT THIS POINT.
That may sound insane, and we may have lost you anyway with the unusual, dense title for this page.
But the truth is, the U.S. is in trouble, with serious deficiencies in: knowledge, critical thinking and problem-solving, science comprehension, understanding complex systems, or understanding any of the following well: technology, supply chains, public health, disaster management, the US government, reasons for government, history, the US Constitution, state and local government, foreign election interference, and so on.
Um, all of this is obviously a problem.
If you think we are being too informal here or not explaining enough, then I might suggest that you may not have been keeping up with the tone of this website (we're informal), or keeping up with the news (it's pretty terrible, and there's way, way too much to summarize). This page is being updated in mid-May 2020. The U.S. is in what we could call a slow meltdown. Disinformation and misinformation about public health, medical information, the virus, and public policy related to all of that is skyrocketing. Local, state, and federal governments are taking a mishmash of response and/or public health approaches, many of which are - let's be honest - total crap, and also dangerous. These actions have already killed tens of thousands. We could go on, but these stories are FREAKING EVERYWHERE. If you don't see it, this website is probably not for you.
So what can we do about it?
One of the things we can do is to celebrate, embrace, and spread knowledge. Okay since we're being smart and accurate here: that's actually three things you can do.
Obviously in the long term we're going to need to do a MUCH, much better job with all the teaching and learning and whatnot. Our educational systems are going to need a total overhaul. However, right now, we are in a bit of a meltdown as noted above. If we're lucky and also if we work really hard and at scale to make some shift happen -- we may just be able to turn this great disruption into a transformation. No small feat, especially when it is a huge enough project to hold civil society and its institutions together while we go through this pandemic.
In the meantime, there's stuff we can do.
Four things we know we can do for sure:
- Know stuff. Know good stuff, silly stuff, accurate stuff, wise stuff, science stuff, and so on. We're going to need knowledge to help us successfully navigate this great transformation. Celebrate the knowledge you have. Do more with it. Grow and evolve it. Make sure it's accurate. All of that. Plenty to do with all of the knowing.
- Learn. Learn knowledge, skills, facts, and things like media literacy. Learn best practices, problem-solving skills, how to understand complex systems, or any number of things that can help you and yours navigate the world we find ourselves in. Assess areas where it would be helpful to learn more, and set about doing that.
- Train. Train yourself, or train your kids, colleagues, organizational teammates, fellow volunteers, your civic engagement cohort, or your neighbors on something useful. Figure out where there are gaps; figure out what you can offer to help. We've all got something to bring to the table -- sometimes it's one-on-one; sometimes it's at scale and to thousands.
- Teach. Teach what you know; what you've learned. We need good teachers; in all the realms. Find what special things you can teach to your corners of the world, and find ways to bring them forward.
There is a phenomenal amount to do to help us all get through the time that's now. See if there's something here that you can bring to the table. Maybe what you can train or teach is something in one of the other focus areas.
We pull each other through this together. That's how we get it done.