Archive for education


Posted in Journalism with tags , , , , , , , , , on 12 February 2009 by Maggie

My days are long, and they are full of busy-ness and chaos.  I go to the gym, I then spend quiet time at home.  The past couple of days I haven’t turned on the television, I’ve not paid alot of attention to the computer after about 8 p.m. 

I need escape time, or – as Jim puts it – “down” time.

Some people just sit and stare at the television.  Some people listen to music.

Alot of people, like me, read.  Most read some form of fiction, because they are not only desperate to escape their day, they are desperate to escape the world.

I escape into various forms of nonfiction, and I learn.

This has been the case with Blind Spot:  When Journalists Don’t Get Religion.  I was going to do a review of it, but in reading it, I’ve tried to sort out how I could do a simple review about the size of that found in a newspaper.

For me, this is impossible.

Is it credible to write a white paper on a book full of others’ white papers?  The material covered has been superior to anything I have read anywhere on the subject of what happens when journalists are ignorant to the underlying factors of the stories they report.

I would love to teach this class and approach it from the direction in which this book was written.  I am acutely aware this is something that has never been taught at university level.  It should be, but it won’t be.  The impact of such an education would illuminate the world.

It’s not just that this book talks about the misinterpretation of the role religion plays in major global news stories about conflict, government and culture, but that it touches the heart of the real problem – that journalists, in their exhuberant gathering of pertinent details, don’t understand why the details are important or that the possibility exists that the details they gather are not where the real issue lies. 

This is why I want my sister in Los Angeles to write a book on the war right here in the United States.  Few understand it or are as close to it as she. 

This is why I want my brother to write a book on his experiences throughout the world with different cultures and personalities.

This is why I deeply regret my own ignorance and shyness when family members who were diplomats and amabassadors were recounting their own experiences throughout the world.  I should have started writing about it then, when I was aware at the age of 8 that the world is not all we have learned in history books.

This is why man, in its ignorance and intolerance of other civilisations, continues to see the world through its bias.

This is why it is impossible to get people to understand.

And this is why, if I could, I would insist that a class based on the general premise of Blind Spot be taught not just to journalists, but to everyone.

I am not as frustrated as I am disillusioned with the inability to educate, to understand, to make the light bulb go off.

I am going to write this “white paper”.  It will turn into a book of its own.


Confirming my place in the world

Posted in Journalism with tags , , , , , on 12 January 2009 by Maggie

Have you ever felt like you were just tired of learning, tired of teaching, tired of…well, just tired?  I am tired.  I’m not looking forward to going to the university tomorrow, and it’s not because the weather is going to be crap.  It’s because I want to finish what I am doing here.  I cram 80 hours of work and writing – or try to – into the time span from 6 p.m. Friday night to 5 a.m. Monday morning.  Weeknights after I get home are lost, and my best hours are daylight hours, anyway.

I did a little thinking about the blog I wrote today and came to the realisation that we all need to take the initiative to learn about other places, even if we never plan to go there.  You have to “get” the culture, “get” the religion, “get” what’s going on behind what you read, or you won’t “get” what you read.   The journalists are certainly not going to help you understand.  They rarely understand, themselves.

The world perpetuates “the news”, which perpetuates the need to learn and understand what you’re not going to catch just by watching and/or reading “the news”.  And the people about whom “the news” no longer seems worthy to report still deserve the time.  Maybe they aren’t the hottest story out there, but the issues themselves don’t die out.

Despite our best efforts, we are not alone in the world.  Non-Western civilisations deserve to be understood, even if we don’t necessarily agree with all the positions they may take, or the philosophies they have. 

As long as there are Westerners in the world whose minds have yet to be opened, I will continue to write…and thus my place in the world is confirmed.