Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More gems from philpaine.com

My friend and sometime collaborator Phil Paine is an original mind. Some of his thoughts can be found on philpaine.com, a combination of blog and commercial site (he is a writer and researcher).

This month, while I've been away, he's added some interesting stuff to his blog section. Earlier today he wrote a piece on the Egyptian Islamicist thinker Sayyid Qutb, the inspiration for the modern wave of Islamic radicalism. Phil points out that most people know little about him, even though experts agree on his importance, and argues that there is really nothing specifically "Islamic" about Qutb's ideas -- they are just one more variant on 20th century totalitarianism.

Back on August 7, Phil wrote a post on Things We Can Do to Ensure Canada’s Future. Of the various ideas put forth there, these really spoke to me:

Do everything possible to make it cheap and easy for anyone under 25 to travel in Canada. Our present facilities for backpackers and student travellers are woefully inadequate. Every young Korean, Estonian, or Peruvian who backpacks across Canada at the age of 18, and has a good experience, is a future fountainhead of investment, trade, publicity and goodwill for this country. This is bread cast upon the waters that will come back five-fold after many days. Equip a large number of high schools across the country to function as youth travel hostels in the summer holidays. The techniques for operating travel hostels are well established. It should be made possible for any high school, university, or community college student to stay overnight at a minimal charge in any such hostel, anywhere in the country. Additional travel hostels should be established in native reserves, national parks, and in remote wilderness areas. Hopefully, the next generation will actually know our country, and outgrow the petty regional squabbling that embarasses us before the rest of the world.

Make language instruction a major aim of Canadian education. It should be expected and normal for any Canadian to emerge from high school with some fluency in at least four languages: English, French, a foreign language, and a native Canadian language (such as Cree or Inuktitut). Proficiency in five or six languages should be relatively common. The maximum variety of foreign languages should be sought after, so that we can develop pools of proficiency in any language that is useful in international trade, diplomacy, or culture. We should attempt to make the next generation of Canadians renowned in the world for cosmopolitan sophistication. Languages were the core of Classical Education, which focused on the discipline of the mind and the preparation for individual growth. Much has been lost by substituting an educational system that combines equal parts of job training and baby-sitting, and views students as worker-termites or commodities.

There's plenty more where that came from.


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