TB and the real story (and teaching our kids to think?)

I listened to a story on (oh, here it comes) NPR this morning about drug resistant tuberculosis.

This particular story struck my interest after reading Mountains Beyond Mountains : The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder. This book blew me away and opened my eyes to the story behind the story about the multiple drug resistant tuberculosis problem around the world. It turns out that, according to Farmer (who has dedicated his entire life to not only changing policy, but working one-on-one with those in need), the problem is caused by sloppy treatment and overpriced drugs that are very cheap to produce. Farmer goes so far as to reverse the impact of MDR TB in a community in Haiti, demonstrating to the World Health Organization how it really can be done right.

You may be wondering where I am going with this (or you may already know ;) ). If you listen to the NPR story and then compare what you hear to what Paul Farmer tells you, it is a very different perspective. NPR’s report tells us that it looks bleak, that there is not much known about why this is happening or how to fix the larger problem. Farmer says otherwise. This was a good reminder for me that, while I love NPR, it too has many limitations. It is always important to listen/read/think with an open mind and open ears.

I guess this is a theme in my life. I firmly believe that this is a higher level thinking skill that we should focus on when teaching our students. Youth of today will be faced with problems and challenges that we can not even imagine. This is nothing new - the world is in a constant state of change, and while we do not know where that change will specifically take us, I do believe that approaching global change with an understanding of different perspectives is imperative to a better quality of life on this planet.

That is where the left lane ends for me - where the path gets exciting and we all start to think.

2 Responses to “TB and the real story (and teaching our kids to think?)”

  1. Arn Froese Says:

    Check the NPR story again. I don’t know the details, but they discuss XDR–extremely drug resistant– TB. The story talks about a small percent of drug-resistant TB cases that are XDR. The disconnect between what Farmer says and the NPR story may not be there.

  2. jfroese Says:

    Thank you, father, for pointing that out! ;) (Dr. Froese is a professor of Psychology at Sterling College in KS. He turned me on to Farmers work and the book ‘Mountains Beyond Mountains.) Per out phone discussion, I’ll follow up with a secondary post to better explain why I feel that NPR has some problems with the depth of their reporting. As you mentioned, I don’t make the connection between XDR and MDR, but I believe that the connection is there, and that there is more to the story than what NPR reported.

    Enjoyed the chat!

Leave a Reply