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Increasing levels of discord

To the editor:

While American society suffers from increasing levels of discord and dysfunction, ever wonder how Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland enjoy such a consistent record of economic productivity, social equality, social trust, and truly enviable levels of personal happiness?

Where does our growing propensity for we vs. them thinking come from?

Much of who we become undoubtedly springs from the words and actions of our families. Some comes from our experiences in church and in school. Increasingly, individual worldviews are shaped by paid covert social media influencers; a fact that has not gone unnoticed by politicians of every stripe.

Many Americans have come to routinely think of schooling as the systematic doling out of a precious set of facts and figures to a group of kids with highly variable individual abilities and interests. Some really “get it” and are allowed to go on to college (if they or their family can take the huge financial hit).

Others sort of “get it,” with many of them going on to do some sort of service job which “sort of” pays the bills, albeit with many sleepless nights. Some don’t seem to “get it” or want it at all and are relegated to a life of struggle and, all too often, prolonged dysfunction with repeated instances of incarceration. This long-standing process of social sorting is woven into the basic fabric of our educational culture.

In Nordic countries, schooling is distinctly different. Education is designed primarily to help each student develop an individual understanding of the complexities of how the world actually works and how to find a productive role as a responsible member of society. The goal is to help each and every student see how she or he will fit in rather than to sort out the winners from the losers.

The book, “The Nordic Secret,” asserts that Nordic education is laser focused on specifically how each individual student matures and takes upon her or himself, “ever bigger personal responsibility towards family, friends, fellow citizens, society, humanity, our globe, and the global heritage of our species, while enjoying ever bigger personal, moral, and existential freedoms.”

Enjoying the fruits of our dog eat dog educational system? Many, many are not. Don’t fall for slogans on hats, open your eyes and your hearts and help put some meaning into those words, “My fellow Americans”.

Either everybody counts, or nobody counts.