Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A "new" average

Sometime this week, I finished Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind...and read (from a different author) this quote:
The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed.  The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation. Therefore, it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high; and the average cannot be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is much higher.
And in one of those rare "Aha" moments, it all made sense.  Pink is advocating for an approach to work that combines analysis with affect--logic with emotion, if you will--to create a new average to follow on the heels of the information age.  His reason for doing so is to create citizens whose skills cannot be outsourced or performed better by a keep us competitive in the world help ensure the success of the republic.

What excites me about this perspective is that it takes the arts and humanities out of the academic ivory tower created to safeguard them from the "common man," while also debunking the bottom line mentality of the traditional business school.  By combining medicine with mythology, engineering with English, and business with bards, we come closer to the new average of citizens who succeed in a shifting world because they have the breadth of skill required for success.  And despite those who bemoan a crisis in the humanities, there is reason to be hopeful that the classics are actually more relevant for being lived and not just studied.

And the source of the quote above?  It's from a speech given at the Sorbonne in April Theodore Roosevelt.

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