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Practically Idealistic blog
The title for this blog originated with use of the term “practical idealist” in this 1996 opinion piece, which asked: “To what kind of work should a practical idealist aspire?” A century and a half earlier, Emerson, in his 1841 essay Circles, wrote: “There are degrees in idealism.  We learn first to play with it academically. . . .  Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments.  Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.  It now shows itself ethical and practical.”  John Dewey and Mahatma Gandhi embraced practical idealism in the 20th century, as did UN Secretary General U Thant.  Al Gore invoked it in a 1998 speech. In the context of this blog, the term is meant to convey idealism tempered but not overwhelmed by realism: a search for the ideal on a path guided by common sense.
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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Michelle Obama, "Let's Move" -- More

New Haven’s Health Matters/Health Equity Alliance, and the regional NAACP effort to counter obesity, suggest how Michelle Obama’s "Let's Move" campaign is both reflecting and helping to catalyze increased consciousness about nutrition, fitness, and health.  Much, much more work remains to implement this vision.  Still, it represents an encouraging trend.

This blog’s February 17 entry discussed the First Lady’s work, as well as related Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute curriculum units and other local assets.

Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity is another resource.

5:37 am edt 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Americans with Disabilities Act, Law-Related Curriculum Units

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A 2004 curriculum unit by New Haven teacher Joanne Pompano addressed "The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Supreme Court, and Self-Advocacy."  She prepared this unit as a Fellow in a Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute seminar led by Robert A. Burt of the Yale Law faculty, who has led seminars on such subjects as civil rights and "The Supreme Court in American Political History."

The same 2004 seminar that produced Joanne Pompano’s unit on the ADA also included units by New Haven Fellows ranging from history teacher John Buell, on the Dred Scott case, to English teacher Mnikesa Whitaker, on "the language of the Brown v. Board era."

8:35 am edt 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mapping and Displaying Information

According to this NPR story, a geography camp was held in connection with a conference of digital mapping experts in San Diego.  “The cartographers, geographers, social scientists and city planners in attendance create and use sophisticated digital mapping technologies for all manner of things: to respond to emergencies, to improve mass transit services, to chart rates of disease in communities. But this camp was for their children.”

. . .

In 2008, William B. Stewart, Associate Professor of Anatomy (Surgery) at the School of Medicine, led a Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute  seminar on "Depicting and Analyzing Data: Enriching Science and Math Curricula through Graphical Displays and Mapping."  The year before, Mary E. Miller, then Vincent J. Scully Professor of the History of Art – and now Sterling Professor of the History of Art and Dean of Yale College – led a seminar on "Maps and Mapmaking."
. . .

Emeritus professor Edward Tufte is renowned for his work on the display of information.
Jonathan Corum is a New York-based information designer.

6:32 am edt 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Domestic Violence Laws, Safety Planning, and Public-Private Partnership

Today Erika Tindill, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, has an opinion piece in the Hartford Courant as it concludes a year-long project on the problem, including this blog and an editorial today.

A couple of weeks ago, the New Haven Independent reported on New Haven-area implications of new laws on domestic violence in Connecticut, which include more funding for shelters and judicial and offender-monitoring progress, as well as efforts to counter teen dating violence in particular.

Posts to this blog on May 14, May 1, and many earlier occasions discussed related matters, including the "Stay at Home" Fundraiser of Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven.

An April 22 opinion article  argued, “No one should have to stay with an abusive partner or keep kids in a hazardous home because of a shortage of shelter space and staff. Much of the state’s safety, advocacy, counseling and preventive public awareness efforts come via underfunded regional nonprofit service centers. Public money and philanthropy must maintain a partnership to keep pace.”

8:37 am edt 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Partnership for Public Service and Thora Institute

The Partnership for Public Service and Thora Institute are two organizations whose websites have been mentioned previously on this blog, but not for some time.

8:26 am edt 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

PIRG in Connecticut and Nationwide

Last night, a ConnPIRG canvasser came to my door.  It was not hard for her to persuade me to renew my membership.  As an April 12, 2009 post to this blog described, having canvassed for ConnPIRG several summers myself, I have an affinity for this consumer and environmental organization that engages college students and citizens in our state, as in other states with PIRGs.

Recently the Nightly Business Report on PBS featured news on credit cards; one source was Ed Mierzwinski, who was executive director of ConnPIRG the first three summers I was a canvasser.  He has now been at U.S. PIRG for more than two decades.  His blog is an excellent source on consumer issues.

According to this 2007 New York Times article, Barack Obama – reflecting on his early work with New York PIRG – told Ed Mierzwinski’s longtime colleague Gene Karpinski “I used to be a PIRG guy.  You guys trained me well.”

5:59 am edt 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Legislation, National Initiative to Strengthen Teaching

Here is news of Congressional legislation to create a grants program to establish Teachers Institutes in states throughout the nation.  The Senators’ and Representatives’ plan is modeled after the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute®.

8:00 am edt 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Declaration of Independence, Roger Sherman

As we mark 234 years since approval of the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, let’s remember Roger Sherman (1721-1793), the only man to sign the Declaration, the Constitution, the Articles of Association and the Articles of Confederation.  He was -- with John Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, and Robert Livingston -- a member of the Committee of Five that helped review the drafting of the Declaration most closely associated with Jefferson.  Sherman also served as mayor of New Haven, among other roles. 

1:06 am edt 

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