If teachers took over the government with Sharon McMahon | ReThinking with Adam Grant
Adam Grant invites Sharon McMahon, a former educator turned ‘America’s Government Teacher’, to discuss her efforts combating political polarization with nonpartisan facts.
They explore the need to redefine the qualifications for elected office, the role of critical thinking in politics, and strategies to mitigate extreme behaviors in the political landscape.
The internet and social media platforms have been instrumental in incentivizing extreme and divisive behaviors in politics.
A potential solution could be the implementation of a civility score or algorithm to assess the level of toxicity in politicians’ online interactions.
Global Perspective on Politics
American politics, characterized by mudslinging and polarization, is not the worldwide norm.
A shift towards neutrality and fact-based arguments instead of relying solely on ideologies can lead to healthier political discourse.
Sharon McMahon emphasizes the importance of grounding political discussions in social science research to ensure that the discourse is based on evidence, rather than personal bias.
I decided that instead of twisting at windmills and wasting all my time arguing with strangers on the internet that I would do something about it. – Sharon McMahon
Recognizing Incontestable Topics
Not all issues have two valid perspectives.
It’s crucial to recognize when one side, such as those advocating for tyranny, repressive authoritarian regimes, and genocide, is clearly in the wrong.
Encouraging Critical Thinking
Promoting critical thinking and independent thought among citizens is essential for a well-informed society.
Individuals should be encouraged to form conclusions through thoughtful means rather than relying on spoon-fed information.
There’s a lot of things we could do, and we choose not to because it’s safer to maintain the status quo than it is to disrupt the applecart. – Sharon McMahon
Value of Legitimate Dissent
Legitimate dissent can help identify weaknesses in arguments and prevent arrogance.
Constructive dialogue, even with opposing viewpoints, is crucial for intellectual growth.
Teaching as a Pre-Qualification
Teaching ninth-grade government for a year could be considered as a prerequisite for Congress.
This experience can provide a deep understanding of the political system and the importance of civic education.
Balancing Arguments with Evidence
A balanced argument is not about weighing two sides equally, but about giving more weight to the strongest evidence.
Recognizing biases and considering facts that contradict personal beliefs are key to critical thinking.