Boricua Attitude

Day Two

Still amazed by the resilience of people here and of the communities. Parks have been cleared out, streets are passable (though many traffic lights still don’t work) and sidewalks improved, and at least in San Juan, we had consistent access to food, lights, water and much of the time internet, even if we could not use wireless connectivity. Everyone I met was as usual warm and enthusiastic, optimistic and forward thinking. The painting of the flag on the roots of an upturned tree says it all. I keep thinking about the layers of symbolism there.

At the same time, while you might think everyone is not doing that much because they are outwardly so easygoing, people are working like crazy to recover, rebuild, and reimagine. The Echar Pa’lante reimagining (led especially well by Banco Popular superstar Gloria Viscasillas Aponte) started six years ago, in recognition of the extraordinarily vulnerable position PR finds itself in. From an economic standpoint, there is no resilience. From an infrastructure standpoint, long-term underdevelopment has created other systemic vulnerabilities. Governance has not kept pace with innovation. Education represents perhaps the greatest vulnerability of all, given that it has the potential to be the engine driving the creation of a newly innovated PR such that other countries will come here and ask, “how did you do it?”

John Dewey said something like, “if we educate students for the past, we rob them of their future.” The current superficial test-prep method of learning used in both the States and PR is the dinosaur chained to our children’s legs. I love the cartoon with the employer peering over the desk at the pale, rumpled and hunched young adult. What are you good at? She asks. Umm…taking tests, answers the new employee. Our standardized testing regime and the methods used to train for it emphasize content recall as the primary skill. But how often is that particular skill needed in today’s world of accelerating change? Further, the test-based method creates a “one right answer” convergent thinking pattern that closes off iteration and flexible thinking. Last, it imposes a top-down, high stakes “you better know the answer to the question I ask” mentality that discourages initiative and creativity. Today the highlight was a presentation by my new friend and absolute genius with a hearty laugh, Dra. Nyvea Silva.

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