Go Back  British Expats > Living & Moving Abroad > USA
Reload this Page >

Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Old Apr 21st 2013, 3:15 pm
  #16  
 
Lion in Winter's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2003
Location: City of Broad Shoulders
Posts: 57,268
Lion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond reputeLion in Winter has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Originally Posted by yellowroom View Post


Its probably where I'm going wrong. I hear "gosh, that's um er comprehensive" for a 1 page memo.
And anything over one page is right out.
Lion in Winter is offline  
Old Apr 21st 2013, 3:26 pm
  #17  
Lost in BE Cyberspace
 
Boiler's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2004
Location: Colorado
Posts: 33,550
Boiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Originally Posted by yellowroom View Post
I refer you to a comment I made yesterday on another thread when I said there appears to be a large degree of fatalism about this and accepting that the problem is too big to fix, so why bother trying.

It's extremely frustrating to those of us who came here expecting that there would be a higher degree of innovation in the country that 40 years ago was putting human beings on the moon.
Times change, this comment about the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire has resonance:

Arnold J. Toynbee and James Burke
In contrast with the declining empire theories, historians such as Arnold J. Toynbee and James Burke argue that the Roman Empire itself was a rotten system from its inception, and that the entire Imperial era was one of steady decay of institutions founded in Republican times. In their view, the Empire could never have lasted longer than it did without radical reforms that no Emperor could implement. The Romans had no budgetary system and thus wasted whatever resources they had available. The economy of the Empire was a Raubwirtschaft or plunder economy based on looting existing resources rather than producing anything new. The Empire relied on riches from conquered territories (this source of revenue ending, of course, with the end of Roman territorial expansion) or on a pattern of tax collection that drove small-scale farmers into destitution (and onto a dole that required even more exactions upon those who could not escape taxation), or into dependency upon a landed élite exempt from taxation. With the cessation of tribute from conquered territories, the full cost of their military machine had to be borne by the citizenry.

An economy based upon slave labor precluded a middle class with buying power. The Roman Empire produced few exportable goods. Material innovation, whether through entrepreneurialism or technological advancement, all but ended long before the final dissolution of the Empire. Meanwhile the costs of military defense and the pomp of Emperors continued. Financial needs continued to increase, but the means of meeting them steadily eroded. In the end, due to economic failure, even the armor of soldiers deteriorated and the weaponry of soldiers became so obsolete that the enemies of the Empire had better armor and weapons as well as larger forces. The decrepit social order offered so little to its subjects that many saw the barbarian invasion as liberation from onerous obligations to the ruling class.

By the late 5th century the barbarian conqueror Odoacer had no use for the formality of an Empire upon deposing Romulus Augustus and chose neither to assume the title of Emperor himself nor to select a puppet, although legally he kept the lands as a commander of the Eastern Empire and maintained the Roman institutions such as the consulship. The formal end of the Roman Empire on the West in AD 476 thus corresponds with the time in which the Empire and the title Emperor no longer had value.
Boiler is offline  
Old Apr 21st 2013, 5:34 pm
  #18  
BE Enthusiast
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: West Sussex - did 3 years in the US...
Posts: 577
dlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Oh my goodness - so much very useful insight ! Thank you - at least I now know it's not just me.

Specific points:

The resistance to change, particularly in large heririchical organisations, so something I have experienced in the civil service here in the UK.
Yes, but this:

It's extremely frustrating to those of us who came here expecting that there would be a higher degree of innovation in the country that 40 years ago was putting human beings on the moon.
My company blathers on ad nauseum about how "it is a flat organisation" and "you can knock on anyone's door at any time." In the UK part of the company, that is mostly true, save a few people that are so far up their own backsides, they sit down to brush their teeth.

But HERE ? FLAT ?? No Way. We have a highly class-structured informal system. I was told early on "Tell the Big Boss everything is great - she does not want to be told there is trouble - it will not help us."

I sort-of expect hierachy and pecking-orders in old-fashioned, government-type organisations; but in a young (20+ year old) IT company ????

My own conclusion is that they don't like change and are very suspicious of anything foreign to their way of thinking.
What's more, they tend to be very compliant with any authority which uses patriotism. Odd when you consider the country's origin..........
Last sentence. Yes - the whole country was built by founders that just out of sheer bloody-mindedness bucked the norms of the day and said "sod you, we're off." That spirit appears to have dispersed completely. Is this a late 20th Century-on facet of American society ? Because as the poster mentioned about the moon landings, I can't believe that anyone would have pushed American technology forward that far in the 1950s in today's work environment.

As I said, if the people I was working with were as daft as two short ones, I could excuse all of this. They're not ! They're MUCH more intelligent than me. I feel an idiot most of the time.

I hate power point myself, because when I write I think carefully and revise and revise until it's just right - but then nobody reads it so it's a pointless exercise.
And here is ANOTHER area that confuses me. Looking at my son's education (6th Grade), it is actually quite good, at least in the areas of Math(s) and English. Lots of back-to-basics grammar, structure, descriptive and persuasive writing - all the areas I'd expect any graduate engineer to excel at.

So, again, people tell me "it's the education system" but at the moment I don't see it.

There is a lack of soft-subjects in the education (no Art, no Music) which does concern me - those subjects don't have right/wrong answers and teach criticism and appreciation.

Maybe if we were to go on to High School the differences would start to show - but again, I hear that High Schools have debating societies....

My own conclusions so far are three fold:

1) Health care trumps everything. You have to have a job at any price, so you keep shtum and put up with crap. This also leads to huge over-employment (yes, there are too many people doing pointless jobs) because the by product of having a much higher unemployment rate would be a much higher proportion of Americans without health-coverage and some embarrassing statistics for the government.....

2) Pensions are linked to employer. You need one ideally that has retiree health benefits, so don't put your position in jeopardy.... Linked to 1)

3) In IT, a large percentage are on temporary Visas from countries they'd rather not go back to. They are sh*t scared that saying the wrong thing will get them sent back in a jot, and this is not just (as with me) a chance to see a different country and then go home - this is a short-cut to a better quality of life for them and generations that follow. Fine, but..... It has created a subservient and compliant workforce.
dlake02 is offline  
Old Apr 21st 2013, 5:42 pm
  #19  
Mouthy Yank
 
Speedwell's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 2,229
Speedwell has a reputation beyond reputeSpeedwell has a reputation beyond reputeSpeedwell has a reputation beyond reputeSpeedwell has a reputation beyond reputeSpeedwell has a reputation beyond reputeSpeedwell has a reputation beyond reputeSpeedwell has a reputation beyond reputeSpeedwell has a reputation beyond reputeSpeedwell has a reputation beyond reputeSpeedwell has a reputation beyond reputeSpeedwell has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow View Post
Lion. It's become a Power-Point business-culture.
Tell me about it. I design interactive PowerPoint training courses. I started doing it because I couldn't get buy-in from the official Training department; they wanted to run my show and I told them where to shove it, and they told me where to shove my request for more sophisticated software. So I made PP do what I wanted it to, dammit.
Speedwell is offline  
Old Apr 21st 2013, 8:57 pm
  #20  
gurt mint nit?
 
Xebedee's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2007
Location: In my shed
Posts: 2,776
Xebedee has a reputation beyond reputeXebedee has a reputation beyond reputeXebedee has a reputation beyond reputeXebedee has a reputation beyond reputeXebedee has a reputation beyond reputeXebedee has a reputation beyond reputeXebedee has a reputation beyond reputeXebedee has a reputation beyond reputeXebedee has a reputation beyond reputeXebedee has a reputation beyond reputeXebedee has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Originally Posted by dlake02 View Post
Last sentence. Yes - the whole country was built by founders that just out of sheer bloody-mindedness bucked the norms of the day and said "sod you, we're off." That spirit appears to have dispersed completely. Is this a late 20th Century-on facet of American society ? Because as the poster mentioned about the moon landings, I can't believe that anyone would have pushed American technology forward that far in the 1950s in today's work environment.
The actual history and character of the founding Fathers has been repackaged and redefined. It will amaze you to read some of the things they thought and said. As for the moon landings, it was tied to a patriotic drive and fear of Communism. Lets not forget, the yanks took a bloody car up there with them.............
Originally Posted by dlake02 View Post
1) Health care trumps everything. You have to have a job at any price, so you keep shtum and put up with crap. This also leads to huge over-employment (yes, there are too many people doing pointless jobs) because the by product of having a much higher unemployment rate would be a much higher proportion of Americans without health-coverage and some embarrassing statistics for the government.....
One word *FEAR*. Many people do jobs they otherwise would not do or are not cut out for.
Originally Posted by dlake02 View Post
2) Pensions are linked to employer. You need one ideally that has retiree health benefits, so don't put your position in jeopardy.... Linked to 1)
There is no such thing as a company pension anymore in the US. The rare occasion you may come across one, is indeed, very, very rare. Its all about money.
Xebedee is offline  
Old Apr 21st 2013, 8:59 pm
  #21  
Account Closed
 
Joined: Aug 2002
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 38,865
ian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Originally Posted by Xebedee View Post
There is no such thing as a company pension anymore in the US. The rare occasion you may come across one, is indeed, very, very rare.
With respect, these two sentences contradict each other.

Ian
ian-mstm is offline  
Old Apr 21st 2013, 9:06 pm
  #22  
BE Enthusiast
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: West Sussex - did 3 years in the US...
Posts: 577
dlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond reputedlake02 has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Originally Posted by Xebedee View Post
The actual history and character of the founding Fathers has been repackaged and redefined. It will amaze you to read some of the things they thought and said. As for the moon landings, it was tied to a patriotic drive and fear of Communism. Lets not forget, the yanks took a bloody car up there with them.............

One word *FEAR*. Many people do jobs they otherwise would not do or are not cut out for.

There is no such thing as a company pension anymore in the US. The rare occasion you may come across one, is indeed, very, very rare. Its all about money.
Pension - yes, sorry, I meant the company 401(k) plan and the tied retiree health coverage.

But I completely understand your point on fear. I end up having conversations over coffee with people that are no different from the observations people make in the UK, NL, BE, DE. The difference is that here, ask people to follow-through, make that observation publicly and take a more senior person to task, it just doesn't happen.

Tell an American that you've arranged for them to see their bosses boss to chat about things, and they turn to custard. Tell a European the same, and you can't stop them talking.

But again, I find this at odds with all I think about in Silicon Valley. The whole culture is built on risk and chance, so fear must be a huge part of that. There is always the risk of failure, and 90% of start-ups fail. That is the nature of the beast.

All very, very odd.....
dlake02 is offline  
Old Apr 21st 2013, 9:33 pm
  #23  
The Unmod
 
paddingtongreen's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2005
Location: Glen Mills, PA
Posts: 8,870
paddingtongreen has a reputation beyond reputepaddingtongreen has a reputation beyond reputepaddingtongreen has a reputation beyond reputepaddingtongreen has a reputation beyond reputepaddingtongreen has a reputation beyond reputepaddingtongreen has a reputation beyond reputepaddingtongreen has a reputation beyond reputepaddingtongreen has a reputation beyond reputepaddingtongreen has a reputation beyond reputepaddingtongreen has a reputation beyond reputepaddingtongreen has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

I came here in 1966 as part of the "Technology Drain" that overlapped/followed the "Brain Drain". At that time, because of the need to get the most out of fuel, multistage turbines were used in UK and Europe, but not here because fuel was available and cheap. In time, they needed multistage machines here, they hired experts from the UK. One man that I used to meet at Brit parties, complained that he would tell them how a certain element was made and he would be voted down because, "It can't possibly work that way." He stayed because he was working on his PhD, at Penn I think.
paddingtongreen is offline  
Old Apr 24th 2013, 7:14 am
  #24  
Just Joined
 
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 7
Wolverine75 is a jewel in the roughWolverine75 is a jewel in the roughWolverine75 is a jewel in the roughWolverine75 is a jewel in the rough
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Interesting discussion about “critical thinking skills”.

In our company, our department has an international teleconference call on a weekly basis to discuss large projects with our colleagues around the world. Employees from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Australia, Belgium, Germany and the U.K. all call in.

There is a U.K. manager who is a stickler for conformity, a real martinet. He constantly demands that everything is done uniformly (by this, he usually means his way). Recently, he was going on and on about using a silly-ass form that conferred absolutely no value to anyone, including his people in the U.K. I ventured to say, “But this form doesn’t add any value to any of our various departments”, to which he snapped “Whether it adds any value is beside the point – we all have to do things the same way to be consistent”.

Critical thinking, indeed.
Wolverine75 is offline  
Old Apr 24th 2013, 12:12 pm
  #25  
Lt (R)
 
Pulaski's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2001
Location: Dixie, ex UK
Posts: 49,410
Pulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

I work in a perpetually changing organization - change comes from all directions externally as well as changes generated internally, and trying persuade colleagues that they need to change what they do, how they do it, and/or when they do it can be painful. In fairness most people are OK with change, some embrace it, .... others just want a fight about it!

The problem I have is that much of the time my only tool is "persuasion", and their "lack of budget" trumps my "persuasion". A recent promotion gave me some gatekeeper control over an authorization procedure, so if they don't engage with me to agree a plan they don't get their document approved, and that can cause them problems with other people who carry a bigger stick than I do.

More often, my recommendations get escalated to my boss, and occasionally to his boss, and the result is "management buy in", which trumps their "lack of budget".
Pulaski is offline  
Old Apr 24th 2013, 2:16 pm
  #26  
BE Forum Addict
 
Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 2,847
HarryTheSpider has a reputation beyond reputeHarryTheSpider has a reputation beyond reputeHarryTheSpider has a reputation beyond reputeHarryTheSpider has a reputation beyond reputeHarryTheSpider has a reputation beyond reputeHarryTheSpider has a reputation beyond reputeHarryTheSpider has a reputation beyond reputeHarryTheSpider has a reputation beyond reputeHarryTheSpider has a reputation beyond reputeHarryTheSpider has a reputation beyond reputeHarryTheSpider has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
I work in a perpetually changing organization - change comes from all directions externally as well as changes generated internally, and trying persuade colleagues that they need to change what they do, how they do it, and/or when they do it can be painful. In fairness most people are OK with change, some embrace it, .... others just want a fight about it!

The problem I have is that much of the time my only tool is "persuasion", and their "lack of budget" trumps my "persuasion". A recent promotion gave me some gatekeeper control over an authorization procedure, so if they don't engage with me to agree a plan they don't get their document approved, and that can cause them problems with other people who carry a bigger stick than I do.

More often, my recommendations get escalated to my boss, and occasionally to his boss, and the result is "management buy in", which trumps their "lack of budget".
A good description of what happens in most organisations, including those who insist that they do not have politics in their organisation...
HarryTheSpider is offline  
Old Apr 24th 2013, 6:20 pm
  #27  
BE Forum Addict
 
Anian's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2011
Location: WA state
Posts: 2,814
Anian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

You've got cynics, who've been on this trip before and know it won't change anyway.
Then you've got those who know that if a change happens then it means more work and stress for them.

My company recently underwent some ISO process qualification thingy and it was a knightmare. We were meant to just document our procedures, but certain people documented them too well (or at least too detailed, or incorrect for different departments) and we were being audited against stupid little things that made no difference. Luckily, after numerous protests, the processes are being simplified to give people room to do what they used to and cut corners where it is okay to cut them. A very expensive mistake for the company.
Anian is offline  
Old Apr 24th 2013, 6:36 pm
  #28  
BE Forum Addict
 
yellowroom's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Was Virginia, now Yorkshire.
Posts: 1,981
yellowroom has a reputation beyond reputeyellowroom has a reputation beyond reputeyellowroom has a reputation beyond reputeyellowroom has a reputation beyond reputeyellowroom has a reputation beyond reputeyellowroom has a reputation beyond reputeyellowroom has a reputation beyond reputeyellowroom has a reputation beyond reputeyellowroom has a reputation beyond reputeyellowroom has a reputation beyond reputeyellowroom has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Originally Posted by Anian View Post
My company recently underwent some ISO process qualification thingy and it was a knightmare. We were meant to just document our procedures, but certain people documented them too well (or at least too detailed, or incorrect for different departments) and we were being audited against stupid little things that made no difference. Luckily, after numerous protests, the processes are being simplified to give people room to do what they used to and cut corners where it is okay to cut them. A very expensive mistake for the company.
There is a knack to writing procedures that give an accurate set of instructions on what to do, but without telling you what to have for breakfast along the way. Precise, but at the same time, vague. Consistent and yet flexible. I quite enjoy it.
yellowroom is offline  
Old Apr 24th 2013, 6:38 pm
  #29  
Lt (R)
 
Pulaski's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2001
Location: Dixie, ex UK
Posts: 49,410
Pulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond reputePulaski has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Originally Posted by Anian View Post
....... and it was a knightmare. .....
Did it involve men in suits of armour riding around on horseback, skewering people with lances?

Last edited by Pulaski; Apr 24th 2013 at 6:47 pm.
Pulaski is offline  
Old Apr 24th 2013, 6:44 pm
  #30  
BE Forum Addict
 
Anian's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2011
Location: WA state
Posts: 2,814
Anian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond reputeAnian has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Critical Thinking and Debate in the US

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
Did it involve men in suits of armour riding around on horseback, skewering people with lances?
No, one guy in a helmet who can't see where he is going, being told what to do by people who don't know what's going on. 80s tv nostalgia.
Anian is offline  

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.