Cultural Literacy

The Philosopher King.

Plato once surmised that evils would never cease until either philosophers became kings, or kings became philosophers. Aristotle disagreed, and in sum and substance countered that it was not merely unnecessary for a king to be a philosopher, but even a disadvantage. A king should listen to the advice of true philosophers. In doing so, he would fill his reign with good deeds, not merely good words.

We may apply such ideas to today’s world, and consider the various specializations that people have when we weigh their words against what we know or believe. I had the good fortune of having a discussion with a reporting educator months ago, and today I am reminded of the wise words that educator gave me. I came to that educator with a simple question: Would reporting students graduate faster if not required to complete prerequisites such as math or English? I was countered profoundly with the following answer: The educator felt that students were not deficient in math or English to a troublesome extent. Rather, the educator felt there was deficiency in civics, current events, and cultural literacy. The educator saw students as not only being deficient in those areas, but resistant to learning in those categories.

I was quite surprised. Though my actual question went unanswered, I was given a nugget of insight that no one else in seven years of reporting had ever given me. The education and subsequent career of a reporter can be hampered not by the layout or style of the education, but by the student’s resistance to learning. By closing our minds, we close doors on ourselves.

What can we do about this? Perhaps the answer is to explore and practice to a wider variety of dictation. Personally, I have always believed that the magic of our job is mastering the material we hear the most, and to that end, mindless repetition of the same words and phrases can be important. But then I am reminded of a recent RPR webinar and prep class with dictation by Joshua B. Edwards, where he read from a monologue wherein the speaker spoke about describing America in one word. Much to my surprise, at only maybe 150 to 180 words per minute, there was some difficulty in keeping up, because the verbiage was so wildly different from what I hear on a daily basis.

Needless to say, but I will say, I am inspired. I am strongly considering finding insightful and varied material in my spare time and dictating it at random and/or variable speeds. If it helps one person open their mind to a new concept or idea, that’s important. If it helps many, that’s even better. Keep an eye out at my Youtube channel for future updates.

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