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Practically Idealistic blog
The title for this blog originated with use of the term “practical idealist” in this 1996 opinion piece, which asked: “To what kind of work should a practical idealist aspire?” A century and a half earlier, Emerson, in his 1841 essay Circles, wrote: “There are degrees in idealism.  We learn first to play with it academically. . . .  Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments.  Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.  It now shows itself ethical and practical.”  Mahatma Gandhi embraced practical idealism in the 20th century, as did UN Secretary General U Thant.  Al Gore invoked it in a 1998 speech. In the context of this blog, the term is meant to convey idealism tempered but not overwhelmed by realism: a search for the ideal on a path guided by common sense.
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Friday, April 30, 2010

Earth Day, Earth Month, and Beyond

Earth Day has expanded to Earth Month.  As that month concludes, below are curricular resources related to environmental sciences, and math.

A February 17 post to this blog had discussed Michelle’s Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, nutrition, health, and the environment, including curricular resources.

John Wargo, Professor of Environmental Risk Analysis and Policy and author of the book Green Intelligence, has led several Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute seminars.  For example, see volumes of curriculum units on Energy, Climate, Environment and Urban Environmental Quality and Human Health  that public school teachers have developed as National Fellows.

In an earlier, New Haven Institute seminar that Oswald Schmitz – like John Wargo a member of the Yale Environment School faculty – led on “Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation,” Fellows developed curriculum units including “Cycles of Life in an Urban Habitat: Changes in Biodiversity,” by Pedro Mendia-Landa (then a bilingual elementary school teacher and now supervisor of bilingual education for the New Haven district).

Another Yale faculty member, Gary Brudvig – who is Eugene Higgins Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry – has recently led national seminars on Green Chemistry and Renewable Energy – the latter of which is also the subject of a 2010 New Haven Institute seminar.

David Bercovici, Professor of Geophysics, led Institute seminars on “Forces of Nature” (2008) and “The Science of Natural Disasters” (2007).  Resulting curriculum units teachers produced as Fellows included a 2007 unit by Zakia D. Parrish, Ph.D., on “Greenhouse Gases: The Chemistry Behind the Culprits.

. . .

Other  resources include:

http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/sustainability

http://www.solaryouth.org

http://www.nhep.com

http://www.greenmyparents.com

http://www.environmentconnecticut.org

http://www.connpirg.org

http://www.1000friends-ct.org

http://www.cdc.gov/Features/EarthMonth/

http://www.yale.edu/uri

http://www.yale.edu/sustainablefood

http://environment.yale.edu
7:50 am edt 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Remembering Dorothy Height, 1912-2010

A January 30 post below noted the death of my grandmother, who was named Dorothy and was born in 1912.

Yesterday her much more famous contemporary, the great Dorothy Height, died.

12:35 am edt 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Haven Students, New York's Metropolitan Museum 9:47 pm edt 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Family Literacy Forum

Today's New Haven Independent includes an account of last week's Family Literacy Forum.

11:19 pm edt 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Census Day -- in India and the U.S.

Following the March 22 blog post below on the Census, there’s news of its slow progress so far in New Haven, though the City has added Spanish-speaking workers to its census outreach staff.  One of those workers is cited in a New Haven Independent article about questions he had received, according to  reporter Melinda Tuhus, “from Latinos who didn’t know what race to check, because there was no ‘Latino’ or ‘Hispanic’ on the form. (It’s an ethnic, not a racial, category.)”

A Hartford Courant article today discusses similar issues, with Census questions 8 and 9: "stirring the most debate, particularly in Hispanic, Caribbean and Middle Eastern communities, local census officials say. The officials say there are residents who don't identify with being white or black.”  There is a reference to Clara Rodriguez, professor of sociology at Fordham University and author of a book published in 2000, Changing Race: Latinos, the Census, and the History of Ethnicity in the United States.
. . .

Meanwhile, on another continent. . .

As the BBC reports, India's census begins today with a home count and will continue for 11 months, collecting photos and fingerprints  for everyone over age 15, with ID cards to follow. The BBC’s Soutik Biswas comments:

“Northern India will stay young, while the south faces rapid ageing. By 2025, demographers say, India's population will still be very young, with a median age of 26. But the median age in the south would be around 34 -- similar to Europe in the late 1980s. . . . Many have demanded that the census should also find out about caste, the complex social order which assigned people a place in the social hierarchy based on their occupation. After all, they say, many affirmative action programmes in India are targeted at caste-based groups, and a proper enumeration of caste will help government to direct such programmes to the deserving more smoothly. But demographers like Ashish Bose  have opposed this. ‘People can easily lie about their caste status. If an upper-caste respondent finds that declaring himself lower-caste will get him government goodies, he can drop his surname or change his name and commit fraud,’ he says. The other problem is that census enumerators have no right to counter a respondent's reply; and thus such fraud could go unchecked. So the jury is still out on whether caste should make a comeback -- only once, in 1931, was caste included in the census.”

7:36 am edt 


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