Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Valuing Intellectual Achievement

Shortly after the election, I wrote:

I have great hopes that we will, indeed, leave behind the days when "intellectual" was a derogatory term and enter a new period in which those willing and able to engage in "deep thought" and careful, intellectual analysis of complex issues and problems will be valued.

So, you can imagine my reaction to something that President-elect Obama said in yesterday's news conference in which he nominated Arne Duncan to be Secretary of Education:
If we can get young people focused on education; if we can change our culture so that we are once again valuing intellectual achievement; and if we are willing to all pull together around making our schools better, that's going to be the single biggest determinant, in terms of how our economy does, long-term.
(Emphasis added.)

What do you think? Has the President-elect been reading my blog?

And, on a somewhat related note, several years ago, my wife and I attended a conference in Chicago (at Northwestern, actually) for education-related businesses (my wife has a tutoring service). One of the speakers at that conference was Arne Duncan (who, if I recall, was relatively new to his job with the Chicago public schools). While I don't remember the specifics of his talk, I do recall thinking quite highly of him. I specifically recall discussing with my wife the fact that Mr. Duncan seemed more than willing to talk candidly about the issues that were facing the Chicago public schools and he seemed very open to listening to and thinking about ideas. I haven't followed his progress in the intervening years, but my gut reaction on hearing of Mr. Duncan's nomination -- based solely upon the impression formed from listening to him speak and honestly and candidly answer questions -- was very positive.

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