Deb Gunther, in passing, referred to the book, CULTURAL LITERACY. (Some
may recall it as a list of "5,000 things educated Americans should know
At the time I was appalled that the book became a best seller, and even
more appalled that it became the basis for the curriculum in a number of
schools around the country. In an article I wrote at the time, I reminded
readers of the 19th century story about a boiler tender in a factory in a
small town who had responsibility for blowing the noon whistle. Every
morning as he walked to work he'd set his watch by the clock on a pedestal
in front of the jewelry store.
He had occasion one Saturday to be in the jewelry store and, being of
curious mind, asked the jeweler how he kept the store's clock on such
"Easy," said the jeweler,"I set it every day when the noon whistle blows."
Despite our best efforts, in schools and most other organizations, we
teach mostly what we were taught. We do that because we think it's
important, and we think it's important because it's what we were taught.
We set our knowledge clocks by our whistles, blow our whistles on schedule
with our clocks, and are reassured by their synchronicity.
I push the making explicit of our implicit mental models of reality so
hard because I believe that making the familiar strange enough to see is
the best way to break the cycle and free ourselves for really fresh
-- Marion GMBrady@aol.com