In the last chapter of his book, City of Rhetoric David Fleming, challenges the reader to think about how he/she can be now humbled by the understand of the built world and the built environment hat surrounds us. Fleming points out that we need to understand that the level to which we flourish and survive directly relates to the design of our built environment and in turn how this matters to us as individuals and as a whole population. He refers to the greeks in the way in which they have combined “modesty” and “hopefulness” in the success of their architectural design, something we in turn should learn from. In this chapter, the city as a place and people are described as being together in a oneness as Fleming is to make the point of this symbiotic relationship the environment has with the people in and the people are a direct reflection of their environment. We as citizens are dependent on our cities, its where we live and where we grow and survive, in turn, our cities are dependent on us and only as the good as the resources and structure we as citizen provide it.
In this final chapter, Fleming addresses the linguistic obstacles that prevent us from improving our cities from what they are now, he presents three reason: debates and discussions about our communities, political position being routinely associated with self-interest, and the lack language that provides us ways to address conflict and resolutions to conflict that do not include assimilating or separating. Fleming uses these reasons to describe to the reader the necessity to put meaning, harmony, resolution and depth of understanding over our own self-interest, personal politics, and publicity in order to improve our environments that we have built and are struggling to survive in; he states that this can only be done through linguistics and the effective use of language.
Fleming says that the success and progress of our built environment and surrounding is dependent on the improvement of teaching our young people in society the importance of linguistic and teaching young people a language that is not directed by privilege or how to win a debate but how to understand and then reason with others alike and different from ourselves that allows us to render the most successful outcome for all of us. He notes that teaching our young people in society this requires more listening than talking, more inquiring rather than debating, more understanding rather than ignoring. The advancement of education and promise of improvement in our cities is upon our young people being taught through a rhetoric oriented in schools that is community based, inclusive, and reasonable rather than exclusive and argumentative. Once the rhetorical bases and linguistics in our education systems change we will see our people change and with that our environment will start to change in a way that serves the public discourse, responds and reasons with the people that inhabit it rather than excludes and marginalizes groups that fall outside of whomever isn’t served by the public discourse.
Overall, Fleming proposes 4 components of civic education that believes will grant students with the power and knowledge necessary to fulfill the tasks of what society needs from their cities and their built environment in which they live. The first component being memory, Fleming talks about the need for students to acknowledge the past history of ones environment, learning what problems currently present themselves isn’t enough when we don’t know where those problems came from, how they were created and whom they did and still do effect. Memorializing the successes as well as failure of an environment and relationship these memories and moments in time have with the current status of the environment is crucial. He encourages young people to listen to the stories of the elders in the community and “uncover” history and conflicts seemingly forgotten about from he community. Secondly, Fleming states that mapping is another component that will lead to a students success in fulfill their civic duties as well as improving their environment. Fleming claims that students today often dive into subjects and write, speak and present about things that they know very little about and he stresses the importance of mapping in order to produce our own understanding of public discourse. Students such be doing genuine research by traveling into communities and cities, seeing, experiencing and thinking then developing our own hypotheses rather than the sterile, less humanistic version of “research” that is pushed by the majority of our educational system currently. The third component Fleming suggest is judgement, how student form the opinions they do, on what basis do we develop our own thoughts and ideas to assess conflicts and situations. Fleming explains that society wants to constantly put young people in decision-making groups and situation without providing students with the education to function in such situations competently. He points out that students should be collaboratively working together in school to study “real” cases and learn how to render a functional and reasonable, developed opinion and decision. Lastly, Fleming says that design is the final component that is going to empower our students and provide them with the knowledge and skills to fulfill civic duties and serve our environment. Fleming elaborates on what he feels in need for students to learn how to construct, invent and design solutions to all of the problems that they face and situational conflicts they incur. Fleming suggest that students in school are presented with current political and cultural conflicts and issues present in their city and work collaboratively in trying to design a plan that would lead to a resolution or invent some sort of amendment that relives a pressing issue. This teaches students to acknowledge, address, and combat problems they share with others in their environments and the type of progress that happens through working with others that we not only share commonalities with but also differences.
The things we know about our cities and about our environments are the things we know about each other and ourselves, some of what we know is amazing and astounding but some of it is disappointing, disheartening, and maybe even destructive. When we take these latter parts of what we know and reinvent them in a way that betters our children, improves our education and alters the origin of our rhetoric then we’ve already made progress. This progress will contribute to the equality, improvement, success, advancement and security of our cities and the environment in which our children’s children will live, grow and survive in; making us better and thus making our city better, perhaps better than we could have ever imagined.