Thinking Citizen Blog — National Visual Idea Exchange — How to Identify What Matters Most

Thinking Citizen Blog — Friday is Education and Education Policy Day

Today’s Topic — National Visual Idea Exchange — How to Identify What Matters Most

The most serious challenge facing education today is not money. It’s a lack of thinking deeply about what matters most — what should be taught, how to teach it, and how to make sure that every child gets to benefit from best practices. On Wednesday, Science Day, I focused on what every child should know about the Human Brain, and presented the three images that best captured that essential knowledge. What if every teacher in every school was given the challenge of deciding the three most important things that every child should remember from each of their classes and picking the three best visual mnemonics to help them do so? What if they were then allocated a certain square footage on school walls to display them? Would this not be a good first step? Any better ideas? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.


1. Harvard could lead the way. And you could be the catalyst. Whether you are an undergraduate, graduate student, or faculty.

2. Make the decision yourself based on what you know so far and share it with other students, teaching fellows, or faculty.

3. Suggest that the chairman of every department encourage every member of the department to do it for each of their courses.

NB — Peer pressure can be a force for good as well as evil. Be the first to step up to the plate.


1. Is there a better gift for Christmas, Hannukah, Diwali, Kwanzaa, or whatever, than to share what you have learned in your life most worth remembering about what means the most to you?

2. Better idea for the next holiday Zoom call than to go around the digital room sharing your top picks?

3. Depending on how many holiday Zoom calls you have and on how many rounds on each call, perhaps you could make it “12” rather than just “3” picks. Or perhaps the top “3 picks” from three different areas.


1. To me the best paragraph written in human history addresses this very issue. I am referring to the first and second aphorisms of Hippocrates.

2. “Art is long but life is short. The opportunity fleeting. Experience delusive. Judgment therefore difficult. The physician must not only do the right things himself but make sure the patient, the attendants, and the externals cooperate.”

3. So here is a challenge. The ball is in your court. Whatever your special passion, please share some time this month, the three most important things you’ve learned related to it and the three images that best capture those truths.

NB: I had hoped that launching the Liberal Arts Academy website a few years ago would trigger a tidal wave of deep thinking. Never happened. Ditto for the “Education First Party.” Suggestions?

FOOTNOTE — My Best Attempt to Make a “Thinking Wall” is the “Matrix” section of the Liberal Arts Academy website. Click on the first link below. Disciplines covered range from math, physics, and chemistry to economics, political science, music, and art. I’m sure someone who actually knows something about each field could do a better job. Please give it a shot.

Click here for the last three years of posts arranged by theme:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

The most relevant pages to today’s topic are pages 84 to 86, 122–129, 132–3 of the “Education Book.”


Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to education or education policy. Or the coolest thought however half-baked you had. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to education or education policy that the rest of us may have missed. Or just some random education-related fact that blew you away.

This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something that is dear to your heart.