Monday, September 10, 2007

Educating the dogma out of them

The biggest deal today in the education world is the NCLB hearings at the Capitol today. For some reason, even though I'm supposed to be a policy fellow, I'm not attending. I am consoling myself with the knowledge that several other fellows aren't going either. However, I think I will have to speak to someone about how I'm not clear on the difference between education policy and education research, because I already know how to do the latter, and am not sure that I want to continue in that vein.

When I was a kid, I thought we could save the world through education. People could be taught empathy, the value of different perspectives, and critical reasoning that would lead nearly everyone to realize the folly of certain paradigms and behaviors, in the long-term. But a new study suggests that political views reflect cognitive styles that may be hardwired. I think perhaps they set up a particular course of thought and action that can be self-reinforcing, but I'm not certain that everyone born to Republicans or Democrats toes the party line forever. This would mean that traditionally conservative countries were full of people who can't deal with cognitive dissonance, who would perhaps be ultra-orthodox (in every sense), and perhaps given to particular govermental structures. Since we see an ebb and flow in politics the world over, I argue for a less fixed determination of both cognitive style and political views. People are shaped by their experiences, as are brains.

Of course, as one who falls more on the liberal side, it is funny to think that I have a more flexible (read: better) brain than a conservative. Generally speaking, however, I know this is not true. Some of my best friends are conservative.

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