MSNBC has two new shows on that is chock full of information: Up with Chris Hayes and MHP (Melissa-Harris Perry.) These shows run consecutively from 7AM until 11AM Central Time. Chris Hayes's show spent its complete two hours on Sunday, Mar. 11 talking about Israel. This topic is so complex that even two hours was not long enough to get all the information needed to get a decent idea of the intricacies of this topic, but it was more information than I have ever seen on a TV show. Even one of the guests stated that she was concerned that the topic was glossed over after they were done. She was probably right, but the attention span of the average American viewer is more around 12 minutes, much less the 120 minutes the show donated to this topic. When we are inundated by crazies proclaiming that we must protect Israel at all costs with their 30-second dumb-speak messages, we really need people to sit down and watch programs like this so that we can understand some of the issues in a fuller sense. Instead, many of our fellow inhabitants prefer to let someone else do their thinking for them, rather than think for themselves.
MHP's show is the strong in that it deals with race politics much of the time. No show ever dares do this, but MHP, through her apprenticeship with Rachel Maddow and others, has learned to present this material in a way that is educational and palatable. The guests teach with their knowledgable and informative ways that allow a race discussion to be rational. I know many people fear talking about this because they are afraid to expose any hidden racism they may have in them, but these discussions take that fear away. I thoroughly enjoy and admire MHP for her skills. I wish all my friends (heck, all people, but I know that's not going to happen) would watch this show, and I push it constantly to anybody who listens to me blather on as I do.
Bill Maher on his show the Friday before the Up show with Israel had Christine Pelosi, daughter of Nancy Pelosi, go to Mississippi to film comments of people about politics. She insists that this was an honest accumulation of comments. These have to be seen to believe. I lived in the South for four of my adult years; so, this was no great surprise, but I know many of my students do not believe life is as described in this video.
I have always maintained that education is the key to removing obstacles of advancement in this country. I have read countless reports about how teaching reading to inmates in jail made a huge difference in their lives. I have seen changes in my students as they become more educated in our school system--becoming more rational and open to opinions different from their own. Programs such as Up and MPH give education in their rational discussions and presented research results. We, as teachers, know that blocking ignorance via education is a slow and sometimes painful process, but when it works, it works wonders. Mississippi is the poorest and worst educated state in the country. We can debate why it is this way, but I think it is safe to say that the bad education is its greatest obstacle to a rational understanding of almost every aspect of life. What motivation do we need as teachers to know the job we are performing is important? I think the answer to that is "Look at Mississippi."
P.S. I will be at the Illinois Education Association RA meeting at the Hilton in downtown Chicago from Thursday 3/15 to Saturday 3/17. I will be sitting with the District 18 group. If any of one happen to be there, please stop by and say hi. I'd love to meet you.