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The Death of "Why?"

Book Description

Obsessed with answers, we have lost sight of the power and value of questions. Debates over globalization, climate change, health care, and poverty will not be “solved” with simple answers, but that's what Americans are being trained to expect. Andrea Batista Schlesinger argues that we're besieged by cultural forces that urge us to avoid critical thinking and independent analysis. The media reduces politics to a spectator sport, standardized tests teach students to fill in the dots instead of opening their minds, and even the Internet promotes habits that discourage looking deeper.
 
But the situation isn't hopeless. Schlesinger profiles individuals and institutions renewing the practice of inquiry—particularly in America's youth—at a time when our society demands such activity from us all. Our resilience will depend on our ability to struggle with what we don't know, to live and think outside comfortable bubbles of sameness, and, ultimately, to ask questions.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Introduction: Questions and Power
  5. Part I: Culture: Questions or Answers?
    1. 1: Inquiry Is Risky, Resilience Is the Reward, and Other Lessons from Childhood
      1. Wisdom from the Crib
      2. Inquiry Builds Resilience
      3. Our National Motivations Matter
    2. 2: Ideological Segregation by Click and by Clique
      1. News We Can Believe (In)
      2. Don’t Know, Don’t Ask
      3. Ideological Polarization Online
      4. Transcending Ideological Segregation Through Deliberation
    3. 3: Consuming Opinion
      1. A Different Kind of Talk Show Host
      2. A Different Kind of Media Today
    4. 4: In Google We Trust
      1. Information Drive-by and the Google Generation
      2. “You Have to Read It”
      3. Yahoo! — One Authority Young People Don’t Question
      4. Leaving Room for Observation
  6. Part II: Schools: Citizens or Consumers?
    1. Financial Literacy in the Schools
    2. 5: The Three Rs and a Why
      1. The Civic Function of Schools
      2. The State of Civics Knowledge
      3. The Decline of Civics as a Priority
    3. 6: No Piggy Bank Left Behind
      1. A Dream of Financial Literacy — Who’s Behind It?
      2. One Person’s Test Question Is Another Person’s Push Poll
      3. So, Who Gains?
    4. 7: Questioning the System, or Beating It?
      1. Does It Even Work?
      2. Other Models: Different Approach, Same Flaw
    5. 8: The Marxist, Anti-American Conspiracy to Convert Young People to Engaged Citizenship
      1. Social Justice in the Schools
      2. Trusting Young People to Question
  7. Part III: Politics: Engaged or Connected?
    1. 9: Black and White and Dead All Over
      1. Snacking on the News
      2. The Limitations of Do-It-Yourself News
      3. Using Newspapers as a Tool for Inquiry
    2. 10: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Youth?
      1. When the Answers Aren’t in the Room
      2. “Cause” and Effect
      3. Power Precedes Policy
      4. Training, Creativity, and Youth Civic Engagement
    3. 11: Lights, Camera, Debate!
      1. The Role of the Presidential Debates
      2. The Role of the Questioner
      3. Control of the Process
      4. Candidates Shouldn’t Fear Questioning
  8. Conclusion: A Call for Slow Democracy
  9. Notes
  10. Acknowledgments
  11. Index
  12. About the Author
  13. About Berrett-Koehler Publishers
  14. Be Connected