Sunday, June 12, 2016

The whole human game

As a kid, I could never see the point of history.  By the time, I was in my teens, I had discovered I liked understanding as much as I could about people but my focus was on individuals and how they lived their lives.  I hadn't thought much about the larger groups of people and how those larger groups act.  For years, I had the idea that when a committee worked on making a decision, such as which candidate to hire, it was not possible to predict its decision beforehand.  Maybe with advanced algorithms and such, it is or will be some day.

In the elementary school curriculum that I am familiar with, there are the subjects of reading, language arts, arithmetic, science and social studies.  There can be other subjects, too, such as music, art and physical education.  Reading, writing and arithmetic generally take precedence and are often considered fundamental tools for use in other subjects and grades and later levels of education.  When I taught the 5th grade, my school district had organized "units" to be taught.  One unit was about why the countries in the temperate zone of the earth have done well.

I have never been much of a joiner and that may be related to my having very rarely thought about or cared much about groups, what they do and what they think and why.  I did run for some student offices at various times and I could see that groups mattered, whether they were rioters or the National Guard.  I didn't realize throughout my schooling how completely the whole human existence can be thought of, and maybe should be thought of, in terms of groups.  

Whether one focuses on politics, government, economics, social history or theory or observation, sociology, anthropology, on political science, more focused history such as the history of printing or of mail services or gardening, it is quite possible to take the view that everything we do that matters, we do in groups. We are rarely alone and what we do when alone is just support for one group activity or another: family, community, state, national, team, organization, etc., etc.

You may have picked up the information that we are in a presidential election year.  You have probably been told by others to contribute some time and effort toward the election of the right candidate.  Many civilizations have urged their people to help the government and the people with time, money and sometimes their lives, as in a military draft.  

In a sense, the whole human game is bound up in the social studies.  You can imagine being the education professor responsible for preparing a wide variety of teacher candidates to teach children about the many aspects of political, social and government activities. I have never been attracted to the social studies.  They seem too fluid and slippery.  I did read "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand and got an appreciation of the burdens of leadership and the low esteem many leaders get from the public.  I have watched "Madam Secretary" and gotten some understandings of the difficulties of being in charge and being responsible without having final say or unlimited power or funds. I guess that is a pretty good description of anyone's life.

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