Saturday, November 09, 2013

The Surprising Thing I Learned About My Students' Image of 9/11

I am teaching a short course on 9/11. 

I wanted to teach this course when I realized that next year's first-year students were in kindergarten in 2001.  Soon the Centre student body will have no memory of the 9/11 attack, while the grownups around them will continue to refer to the events as if they happened yesterday.

The juniors and seniors I am teaching this term were in third or fourth grade at the time. They do remember, though mostly they remember the commotion among the adults and in their school.  But they all saw the pictures of the burning towers of the World Trade Center that day.

The surprising thing I learned from teaching them is that they did not know that the twin towers were a famous landmark before 9/11.  They asked me if, when we heard that the World Trade Center had been hit by airplanes, could most people picture what those buildings looked like?

For young adults today - and likely the whole next generation - their main image of the World Trade Center is of the twin towers on fire, and then collapsing into rubble.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Obamacare Will Be A Pretty Big Success

I think the extension of health insurance to all Americans is a huge step forward. It will soon become as much a part of the fabric of American life as Social Security and Medicare.  It will be hard to convince students in a few years that there was a time when we did not have universal health insurance.

It will also be hard to convince students, especially the Republican students, that Republican legislators all voted against universal health insurance.  That the Republican Party ran three elections on trying to defeat and then overturn what they called Obamacare.  The Tea Party is opposed to the Affordable Care Act beyond the point of reason sometimes.  They shut down the government and were ready to bankrupt the country rather than let the uninsured have health insurance.

The Republican alliance with the Tea Party will, I think, be seen as a disastrous miscalculation, especially about Obamacare.

The Republican Party is strenuously, even frantically, opposed to Obamacare because they know it will be a success.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

M23 Rebels Lay Down Arms, Agree to Talk in Congo

"The rebels agree to lay down their arms and negotiate ..." is almost always good news. 

In today's good news, the M23 rebel group in Congo were the ones stopping their war.  The government of the Congo will negotiate to achieve the rebels' reintegration into society. 

The Congolese government was backed by UN troops who, unusually, were sent there to fight.  The rebels' main outside supporters, the government of Rwanda, also accepted the peace deal.

This is not the end of fighting in the eastern Congo - several other rebel groups and gangs remain.  But today's good news sets an excellent precedent for creating lawful order in one of the most lawless places on earth.