The Triple Agent

I just started listening to a digital recording of The Triple Agent, which is a book about a Jordanian man who killed seven CIA operatives in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan in 2009.  This man was an agent for the U.S., Jordan, and the Taliban.  In one portion of the book the author, Warrick, explains how the CIA has changed over the last 3 decades.  In the past Warrick explains that many of the recruited employees were able to move up in the ranks through field work and very specific skills/knowledge.  Warrick explains that the game has changed in the CIA now because wars are based so much on technology and the ability to sort through information to gain useful intelligence.  Warrick asserts that the CIA now prizes workers who can adapt quickly and who can look at the big picture (a dearth of useless and useful information intertwined in a complex web) and create a story or make some sense of it.  These are the same skills that should be used to teach content in all classrooms, according to proponents of higher order thinking skills.  I thought back to our first day in the classroom when we agreed through conversation and through readings that employers want employees who can think and process like this, and who understand that there is not one right answer in a complex world.  It seems like the workplace now favors the people who are able to comfortably be able to sit with uncertainty and make some use of it.  Anyway, it does seem like education should not only prepare us to become citizens, but it should prepare us for 21st century work.  A counterargument to that might be: well, not everybody is going to be a CIA employee, so not everybody needs to know these skills.  That is what I used to think, and what made me think that a technical education for some students may be a better high school track.  On the other hand, it cannot hurt to have teachers using strategies that elicit critical and creative thinking in all students.  I think this is incredibly important for all students because we are all a part of the same democracy, which is given the task of sifting through vast amounts of information everyday.  We are faced with numerous small and large choices on a daily or weekly basis, and I think as a population we could gain from thinking more critically and creatively no matter what our occupation.  For instance, people might be more well-informed politically if they were able to think through the information they read, as opposed to taking every piece of information at face value.


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