Alan's Reviews > That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back

That Used to Be Us by Thomas L. Friedman
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Feb 28, 12

Read in February, 2012

I very disappointing in Friedman's discussion of education. Sure, good teachers are important but measuring good teaching is still next to impossible. I was shocked that Friedman praised the governor of Colorado's plan to remove the protection of tenure in the same section where he wrote about the importance of critical thinking.

What does Friedman think is going to happen to teachers when their students ask critical questions? They will be fired immediately. Putting principals in charge of the hiring and tenure review process is nonsense. They won't reward independent minded teachers, who experiment with lessons enough to improve them. Those people will be fired while teachers who stick to the recommended "tried and true" worthless lessons will be hired and re-hired. These folks will be praised for being "team players" when they are really just ass-kissers. Friedman said education is not social, but it is — completely. People are not computers. We are social animals and nothing is so social as language, the basis of education.”

I had to agree with Friedman as he argued later that Republicans spent like crazy with tax cuts and wars during the Bush administration, driving up the deficit, and now their fight against taxes shows a complete ignorance of the math of paying for government services. The problem in the later chapters is that nothing is new, least of all the notions that politicians are polarized, the last 10 years have been awful due to no compromises, Bush spent too much on war and tax cuts, lobbyists ruin the political process, and the Republicans are mostly to blame for all of this. Could any of his readers not know these things?

Friedman last chapter was not persuasive. He was too diplomatic in explaining how the Republicans have nearly brought the country to ruin and his final idea about a third party shaking up the government seemed like wishful thinking.
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