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HOUSTONxSHAKERS (Lover of TED Talks) Message Board › TED Conversations

TED Conversations

A former member
Post #: 3
I meant uneducated in the same light as Ken Robinson I guess, but more so in empathy than creativity. If you ask me for a more complete list of what I believe education should entail, I'd include appreciation of the arts, anthropology, worldly general knowledge of history and politics, civility, physical education, foreign languages, social studies, amongst other studies. Experiencing different fields helps us appreciate firsthand what people in those fields of studies encounter. Encouraging empathy, civility as well as mental and emotional diversity would be Key.
My humble opinion as far as the educational system in the US is concerned is that budget cuts would make it harder to employ and retain the brightest minds as teachers, and we would also end up with larger class rooms resulting in a less intimate learning environment. Both of these set-backs would hinder education, but it does not impede it completely. As long as we have blackboards, chalk (we didn’t have whiteboards and markers in our days), a playing field, water colors, chairs for a choir, etc., then you have every tool you need right? Teachers are the only real tool you need, and that’s what we should mostly spend our money on – we should shower them with wealth if we want to truly educate our kids.
Peter T.
user 12708946
Houston, TX
Post #: 4
In my humble opinion, the physiological development of our brain dictates that we are all ethnocentric to a certain degree. Its almost impossible for anyone to not be influence by their experience and the culture they were raised since our neurological pathways are consistently being "wire" and "destroy" from our experiences. By the time we are 8 years old, those neurons are pretty much "hard wire" since the rate of development slows down. Its no different than an infant who suffers from malnutrition for long period of time will be stunt for life even if they receive proper nutrition afterward.

Ethnocentrism is as much part of us as our natural instinct to survive. My observation is that our cultural differences are influence very much by our environment and even more so by the food source available.

The very fact that we are discussing this shows that ethnocentrism exist because I'm pretty sure some poor starving malnutrition person in a developing world would not even ask this question.

Just my 2 cents. May the force be with us all.



Sumit
user 36722042
Houston, TX
Post #: 3
Education Yes but awareness for sure helps break the stereotypes we build in our mind. It could be developed by reading or traveling. Topics on diversity can be added into the syllabus but there is so much to explore in this world. Adding topics to coursebooks does not require capital investment but openness to accept others. With the demography shifting rapidly, this country needs immediate attention. This country has great infrastructure in terms of public libraries. They should stock more literature and books from other countries and cultures.

Introducing your friends to the festivals/ celebrations from your culture helps builds the bridge. Who does not wants to have fun and party after all.

But WAIT, why is ethnocentrism bad. Does not that develops us as a person, makes this world an interesting place with diverse ideas. Otherwise this world will be a boring one vanilla flavor.
We wants to see more of us. Isn't TED about the same.


Judy C.
jichang79
Group Organizer
Houston, TX
Post #: 11
"Isn't TED about the same."

You're right! We've made our own culture, TEDsters...
Eldho K.
EVK33
Houston, TX
Post #: 2
What I see happening in the world is a migration from an "EITHER/OR" world to a "BOTH/AND" world. I honestly thought in the 1990s that all the traditional Indian music and art forms I grew up with would be eroded by now.. however, through YouTube, Meetup and other social tools, what has happened is a significant resurgence of passion and interest in these areas. Songs that I thought I had lost when I lost track of my tape collection are readily available on Youtube. The internet and the global connectivity is fostering an environment where we become more aware of each other, find similarly minded folks and cultivate a stronger sense of identity. Surprisingly, many such strong identities are co-habitting in our cities, in virtual spaces and in our own psyche. This is why I call it the "Both/AND" world. We are not trading away any culture per-se, rather amplifying them, blending them and further amplifying them.

However, what has been lost (and continues to be lost) is the ability to be ignorant and innocently ethnocentric. There is a fierce purity of cultural definition that is lost -- and despite all of the negative connotations associated with puritan ethnocentricism, I do believe that humanity needs some polarization, fierce loyalties and unvarnished pride about something totally ridiculous .. don't ask me why.. but I am almost as cynical of well balanced monks and priests as I am of lunatic xenephobic dictators.

My goal is to be a strong exponent of Indian-ness while blending fully with every other culture around me. Like cooking -- Salt has to maintain its saltiness while Oregano maintains its Oregano-ness for the overall dish to have any flavor. Now, can we create a new flavor by cross-breeding Oregano with Basil? Absolutely.
Judy C.
jichang79
Group Organizer
Houston, TX
Post #: 14
I do believe that humanity needs some polarization, fierce loyalties and unvarnished pride about something totally ridiculous .. don't ask me why.. but I am almost as cynical of well balanced monks and priests as I am of lunatic xenephobic dictators.


EK can you elaborate on this thought? Do you not believe that people can be totally middle of the road on issues? If they are, do you think that there is some hidden agenda within them to warrant a distrust?
Eldho K.
EVK33
Houston, TX
Post #: 3
Hey Judy,

Sure.. First, 'cynical' was not the best word.. What I mean is really 2 part

1. Empirically, those who have succeeded in pushing their vision and ideas were often the less balanced, and more passionate individuals. It's hard to find people who are passionately balanced.. Because balance by definition is a logical and rational state of being; logic and reason are somewhat mutually exclusive of passion and fierce loyalties. As such, i wonder if those who are balanced are deeply committed to their position. This is not to say that it is a futile pursuit or wrong to try to be passionately balanced.. Dwight Eisenhower is someone who I'd call passionately balanced.

2. Passion, fierce loyalties and unwavering love are all very much the qualities that distinguish us from machines. As such, even if someone is illogically ethnocentric as a result of these human qualities, I'd almost prefer that (as long as it is not malicious or condescending) over someone who is balanced and is only academically and cutaneously affiliated with numerous cultures.


Personally, I subscribe to the both/ and view of ethnography. I want to deeply be true to my ethnic background, while helping others do the same (if they are so inclined) to the best of my abilities. I do consider erosion of Any ethnic identity to be a loss for humanity in general. That's my humble attempt at being "passionately balance" :).
Judy C.
jichang79
Group Organizer
Houston, TX
Post #: 15
Well said! Thank you.
A former member
Post #: 24
Ethnocentrism is a broad term encompassing a spectrum of effects from relatively benign to horrifically destructive (e.g., Al qaeda's exploitation of Islamic ethnocentrism to promote terrorism). It is basically a set of biases based on each individual's life experiences (not just one's "ethnicity"), therefore integral to each individual. None of us can truly claim to be without bias, so it's a futile exercise to debate that premise when we are all ethnocentric to some degree.

The more relevant question is how do each of us deal with our own ethnocentrism? Do you acknowledge your own biases and attempt to transcend your ethnocentrism through viewing other cultures' (including subcultures within your own society) behavior via their context instead of your own? Do you attempt to learn the meanings and functions behind their "odd" behavior? As someone who was raised in vastly different cultures and socio-economic circumstances, the crucial importance of expanding one's point of view to understand cultural differences was made clear. It is important to note that "understanding" does not necessarily require "acceptance" of objectionable behavior. However, our willingness to understand allows us to see others with more clarity instead of some distorted image of misunderstanding based on prejudice. I believe the tendency to keep a tenacious grip on one's biases stifles creativity & passion, which I would define to be a deep connection with and expression of one's core values. A willingness to transcend ethnocentric thought does not negate one's own cultural base; it simply creates an evolved & expanded mind.



Judy C.
jichang79
Group Organizer
Houston, TX
Post #: 17
Well said Jen, but let me ask you a challenging question. How does one gain "clarity" by just "understanding"? It is easy for us to say that because most of us have not been put into a situation like the Sebian - Herzegovinan war, or the wars going on now in half of the world...the challenge is, how do we move from understanding to acceptance, and hopefully to peaceful tolerance?
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