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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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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Resources for Teaching and Learning

The curricular resources that New Haven Public School teachers developed as Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Fellows in 2014 are now online, for non-commercial, educational purposes locally and beyond.

8:47 am edt 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Historic Sites

This weekend in Massachusetts, my family visited both the site of the last battle of Shays’ Rebellion (1787) and the W.E.B. Du Bois National Historic Site, where as a young child he lived with his grandparents in the early 1870s.

5:40 pm edt 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

“Dark Is Beautiful”: Film and Social Activism

Last weekend, my wife and I attended a screening of “Firaaq,” a powerful film that Nandita Das – director and actor as well as social activist – made about the 2002 “carnage” (as she characterized it) in the Indian state of Gujarat, where Muslims were massacred after a sectarian dispute and controversial train fire.  The Gujarat government at the time was headed by Narendra Modi, now the Indian prime minister, who was in the U.S. this past week to speak at the UN and meet with President Barack Obama. 

Nandita Das, a 2014 Yale World Fellow, will be speaking in New Haven (6 p.m., Luce Hall) the evening of October 10 about a campaign to counter skin color bias, in India and beyond.  The effort, “Dark Is Beautiful,” has received attention in the U.S. as well as India and elsewhere.

For a preview, see this video.

Racism and skin tone bias are all too common across cultures and continents.  Personally, in the case of India, my wife’s mother has spoken of ugly comments she received from a young age about her skin tone.  Let us hope that messages such as “dark is beautiful” will help advance progress.

8:40 am edt 

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