A new initiative at the International Institute of Education is sparking conversation, asking us how we can increase the cultural awareness in our students and encourage them to learn in environments outside of their comfort zone.
Learning a language is a commitment. It takes years to become truly proficient, and even then there will be yet more to learn. (I'm still learning new words and cultural references in English, and I've been speaking it since I was in diapers.)
If the Obama administration wants to assuage this migrant crisis, it should invest in strengthening and providing these children, and American children, with educational and cultural literacy programs. The U.S. cannot eliminate the violence, crime, and instability that exist in these countries.
Even as the United States' international role grows, however, our knowledge of the world we live in lags behind. Since 1994, geographic literacy -- understanding of places and cultures of the world -- declined among American twelfth-graders.
This morning's edition reminded me of the great Steely Dan tune "Hey Nineteen": "Hey Nineteen, that's 'Retha Franklin/She don't remember the queen of soul ...." Every cultural reference I made fell on uncomprehending ears.
Critics are cultural historians of a sort, trying to tie the present to the past. Audiences, however, apparently don't give a rip. Or, at least, the audience that seem to matter most now, people in their 30s or younger.