“The Nonsense of Beating Sense into Kids: Corporal Punishment in Public Schools”

The Prindle Post
September 1, 2015

Photo of a hand holding a wooden paddle in a school classroom.I’ll post the full article here in a few weeks to archive it on my site. For now, go read it on The Prindle Post. I am impressed with what the folks at Depauw University are up to in Indiana, at their Prindle Institute for Ethics. Their periodical is the new way to publish, without a doubt. Newspapers are great, but those folks starting out on the Web don’t have to worry about how best to transition. They’re more than a blog and don’t have the cumbersome print concerns.

If you’re interested in the issue of corporal punishment in our public schools, check out my 2013 interview with SVT Nyheter, Sweden’s national TV news service. Soon, I’ll post my Clarion Ledger article from earlier that year on the topic. That article was part of what caught the attention of the Swedish TV folks. When I post that article, I’ll update this post with a link.

One Amazing Benefit Social Media Brought this Scholar

This past week, I finally hung a light that I got as a gift last year over my favorite painting. The story is worth sharing, I believe, because it has to do with my most rewarding benefit I’ve received from social media activity as a scholar. Another reason it is personally meaningful is that it marks the conclusion of a promise I made.

Painting, 'Politician at a Podium,' by Ashley Cecil, http://AshleyCecil.com.

In late 2013, my book, Democracy and Leadership, was published. I had looked far and wide for the right image for the cover. My first publisher put out my first two books without giving me a choice about the cover. So, while I appreciate that one shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, I’ve heard enough people do it to be eager for a say in its design. I wanted to find just the right image to capture what I’m up to in the book. I’d hoped it could be a pretty painting somehow, featuring a context for leadership, but somehow highlighting the people more than the politician.

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“A Historical Mandate for Expanding Broadband Internet Infrastructure” (2010)

Photo of the cover of the Review of Policy Research.I wrote and published this piece in 2010 and have meant to come back to it. It looks at the arguments that were given on the issue of government postal roads and offices, when the Founders were drafting the U.S. Constitution. They believed that the immediate and free flow of information is essential to the proper functioning of a democratic government. You cannot get more immediate than internet communication.

The idea that the government would be involved in that, rather than only private industry, at least in setting the basic foundation for free-flowing communications, was thought essential. Otherwise it would be very cheap to communicate within a city, but very expensive for those who lived in rural areas, like where I live, in Mississippi.

Portrait of Senator Trent Lott.Check it out. Guess who makes an appearance in the paper — none other than a young then-Congressman Trent Lott (I work with the Lott Institute), who was the moderate voice in a discussion with American Enterprise Institute representatives. The AEI folks felt quite sure that private industry was all that was needed. Lott was forward thinking, even, suggesting in the 1970s (!) that the post office should be looking into electronic communication. They did not do that, unlike France, and look at where our postal services are compared to the French – or trust me, the latter’s faring far better. They’re even looking into drone delivery services.

The topic of this paper is important to me, as it attends to an area in which we might build up American infrastructure in a way that is enabling of business and democratic communication. Keep in mind that many private businesses — newspapers — wanted the post office mail for free! Yes, read the paper. Mailing letters, catalogs, and payments, enables business, even if it takes some government regulation of part of a market — postal communication — to do so.

When I delivered this paper years ago at the Policy Studies Organization’s Dupont Summit conference in Washington, D.C., a representative from the American Enterprise Institute, whom I won’t name, told me that I had convinced him, which was a nice compliment. “It’s in the Constitution,” he said. Indeed, there’s a Constitutional basis for public investment in improving our infrastructure.

Read the paper on Academia.edu

Citation

Weber, Eric Thomas. “A Historical Mandate to Expand Broadband Internet Infrastructure.” Review of Policy Research 27, Issue 5 (2010): 681-689.

“Try Charter Schools Experiment Where Others Failing” (2010)

Now that my new site is up, I’m slowly but surely adding to it the pieces I had up on my old site. This was my first op-ed published in The Clarion Ledger, published March 6, 2010, on 9A. I am grateful for permission to republish my pieces here and elsewhere.

Photo of my op-ed in the Clarion Ledger, which links to a PDF of the scan, though the full text is available below on the Web page featuring this image.

Here’s a scan of the piece, though the character recognition in the file didn’t work well. Therefore, I’m posting here the text from the piece.

Try Charter Schools Experiment Where Others Failing

In January, three University of Mississippi undergraduates advocated for charter schools before the Mississippi House Committee on Education out of concern for the crisis of education in the state. The Public Policy Leadership majors, Chelsea Caveny, Cortez Moss, and Alex McLelland, met resistance to partial measures for progress.

Aside from a few vocal opponents, the general response from Republicans in the room was positive and some Democrats were cautiously open to charter schools. The most vocal opponents of charter school legislation worried about the children who stay behind in traditional schools. One representative exclaimed: “Separate but unequal!”

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“‘Acceptance & Happiness with Stoicism,’ Ep1 of Philosophy Bakes Bread”
by Eric Thomas Weber

Sorry, listening to the audio on this website requires Flash support in your browser. You can try playing the MP3 file directly by clicking here.

Philosophy Bakes Bread
March 14, 2015

PBB-Logo-1-itunesHere’s episode 1 of Philosophy Bakes Bread, titled “Acceptance & Happiness with Stoicism.” You can listen to it here above or you can visit the podcast’s page for this episode here. You can subscribe to the podcast’s RSS feed here. If you prefer, you can download the MP3 file here and listen to it later.

iTunes has it too, though for some reason as I post this the episodes are out of order.

“Acceptance & Happiness with Stoicism”

This first episode of Philosophy Bakes Bread presents a very personal story about how stoic philosophy can make a profound difference for the better in our lives when we encounter difficulties beyond our control.

The transcript for this episode is available here.

Check out the other episodes of Philosophy Bakes Bread here.

Finally, if you’d prefer to “watch” the podcast on YouTube, here it is:

If you prefer that format, here’s a playlist of the podcast episodes on my YouTube channel.

Interview on Practical Philosophy in Berlin

Professor Chris Skowronski, Associate Professor of Practical Philosophy in the Institute of Philosophy at Opole University, Poland, interviewed me at the Berlin Practical Philosophy International Forum conference on August 13, 2015.

I’m grateful to Chris and to Maja Niestroj for the interview, the video, and the hospitality while I was in Berlin. It was a great conference on a wonderful public philosophy, Dr. John Lachs, who has been my mentor in philosophy since around 1998 or 1999.

5 Reasons Scholars Need Facebook Author Pages

Scholars tend to be shy or humble, often going to great lengths to avoid anything that might smack of self-promotion or over-confidence. There’s good reason for this. The academy trains you to be skeptical, to demand evidence, and to be reserved about matters that you’ve not yet carefully considered.

Image of Bertrand Russell from 1951.

There are two troubling consequences of this phenomenon, however. The first is captured in one of Bertrand Russel’s famous sayings. In New Hopes for a Changing World, he wrote that

One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.

It’s a riff on William Butler Yeats’s “The Second Coming,” where he writes that “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

In other words, self-doubt and the training for skepticism, so vital to good philosophy, can lead scholars not to speak up, while so many ignorant voices cry. If scholars are waiting for certainty, we’ll never hear from them. This is one of the troubling dangers.

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Photo from 2015 graduate instructor training at the University of Mississippi.

Thanks to Graduate School Dean John Kiss for the photo. I enjoy meeting with the new graduate instructors each year at the University of Mississippi. Copyright John Kiss, 2015.