Aug 14, 2005

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste. But, What to Put in It?

Devolution is a possibility too!
In a few weeks I'll be heading back to the classroom, so what's more appropriate than to ponder some questions about education. What is this education thingy? What do we consider "worthwhile learning" and why is it necessary to amass knowledge beyond what's needed for everyday living? Perhaps more importantly, what kind of education should society give its citizens? Education, in my opinion, is not indoctrination, but rather the freeing of the mind: giving it the tools to reason, opening it up to new experiences and understanding. A disciplined mind doesn't necessarily mean a closed one, but one that can apply the tools of reason, knowledge and personal creativity.

Education should be an equalizing force--that is, give the individual the means to upward mobility--in a society, especially in the US where the gap between the classes is growing especially fast under the Bush administration. Actually, the
mobility myth is just that. The rules of the game are being fixed in favor of the established elites, and it's getting harder for Americans to move up the socio-economic ladder. There is another phenomenon today that's creating another gap: between those who have access to information and those who don't. Education and information are empowering, therefore, access to them is imperative especially for those who don't have a panoply of means.

In the face of technological marvels at our disposal a rich country like ours should grasp the chance to move forward by leaps and bounds. However, there is an attempt of dumbing down our society. When other countries have settled on modernity and for a greater equality in the distribution of their national wealth, we are still arguing whether to teach science in our schools! We are not producing enough engineers, scientists, and we don't want to fund programs in the creative arts and sciences. International talent, once drawn to our shores, is now looking elsewhere for more hospitable environment.

The quality of our life, the quality of the education we provide our people, and the quality of our democracy are all closely related. I plan to ask my students about their expectations and aspirations of the future. The future belongs to them. Yet, if they are to improve their chances at success they must be thinking, informed and engaged citizens, and thus be able to change their country for the better.

Editor's note: This is the first of several essays on education.

10 comments:

Anne said...

Yes, education is very important and should be a right in a society that values its people. Unless, the elites don't want informed people...

DB said...

Man, you had to remind me about school......
I mean, don't get me wrong, I like my college (SUNY Purchase), but I want to enjoy some of this summer a little longer...
Damn, it's too hot..perhaps the hottest in the last 150 years!
Time for a cold longneck now...
Cheers

Geeshus said...

I feel lucky I got to go to college, but even so-called public colleges are getting expensive nowadays. I mean, say CUNY or SUNY are good values but you have to consider that the people attending don't come from well-to-do families, so it's not easy. I bet you the majority of these students are first generation (the first in their families to attend college) and they most likely have to work jobs to pay for tuition.
Education and healthcare should be provided to every American. What the hell we have this country for if not for the maximum benefit of its citizens?!!!
It's a matter of priorities and, like you said, informed & active people.

Anonymous said...

on the question of ID... would they accept any myth, or just the biblical version only?...
I mean, every theory is of "equal value''....

LT said...

Are you kidding, they conservatives want stupid people to continue vote against their own interests!

Anonymous said...

you have a solution? more government? more bureaucracy?

Alanis said...

You need gullible people, intellectually lazy, motivated by fear, and made to respond like Pavlov's dog!

Jenn said...

Alanis, you say that like it's a bad thing. I mean, we can't have an informed citizenry! Gosh, what are you doing? Thinking? That's crazy talk!! Mindless drones are the way to go. You get evil things like, oh, I don't know, the Patriot Act, passed in Congress much easier that way. Just hunkers down the dempcratic process if the people were informed and (heaven forbid!!) questioned authority. Silly rabbit...

alanis said...

jenn,
i guess you're right.. what you don't know it can't hurt you (or, can it?)....
andros has a quote by Eleanor Rosevelt up on the main page, and i think it is so true...

thinking is hard work, so it's easy not to....
(know anybody who's intellectually lazy.... mmmmm, i don't know, someone in power?...... hey, maybe we elected someone "just like us"!!!)

Anonymous said...

I miss you, dear heart. And, I hope you are happy.