Reforming education has been a hot topic for some time now. The term relates to the effects of budget cuts for public schools, to recent college graduates not being able to find adequate work to pay off their debts from student loans, to not enough skills within a specific field for companies to hire for the expertise they require. Education reform refers to reducing drop out rates and, at large, allowing society to maintain itself economically and be self-reliant on its resources while maintaining awareness of proper use of its resources.
What is being well educated? Is it about having endless knowledge? Is it about maintaining creativity? Is it about reciting things we memorize? It can be all this, but as a society we ultimately seek education to increase our relative quality of life. We seek an education that allows us to learn how to live, as well as make a living. An education should show us how to stay out of debt, how to collaborate with others, how to develop mastery in a field but enough diversity to be able to transfer our mastery into other fields or trades. Education should show us how to communicate effectively, and filter between a wise decision and a futile decision, not just for ourselves but also for those that could be affected by our decisions. We live in an information age, but are so overwhelmed with information that we spend most of our time just filtering through and minimally learning how to specifically use it based on the task at hand. Our brains become as scattered in thought as the plethora of information that we are constantly bombarded and have to keep up with and then blame the lack of focus on some disorder; ADHD perhaps?
On a large-scale, much of the world’s problems come from a lack of an equal access and exposure to useful knowledge and critical skills training. Not just useful in the sense being able to balance a business’s finances but in the sense of making decisions and solving problems in pressured situations, or merely when there is a call to action. It comes from a lack of intrinsic motivations that drive humanitarian benefits versus greed by prioritizing extrinsic motives for performance. Simply put, a society that is inspired to work, think, and produce will work optimally rather than a society driven to produce by manipulation and special privileges, whether monetary or otherwise, placed on them by some third-party for specific performance. In this way people can understand each other, and diplomatically solve each other’s problems instead of competing for possession and pride.
These variations of motives take place regularly in society, and are regularly portrayed in the media. In fact, society places considerable dependence on media for their knowledge. We are exposed to the biases of politics and therefore choose our sides based on the amount of exposure we specifically have to a bias. It is okay to take sides, and have competition, but the sides we take must be made on decisions that are rationalized by means of weighing in a truthful source not just a series of subjective opinions. Subjective opinions that often come from media are sources of fuel; emotional instigators that we must learn to use as a catalyst to further our research on what specifically sparked our attention. Yet people so often take sides blindly, with little explicit knowledge of why they chose a specific argument and simply discredited the other.
Using religion as an example, how many people who have read the Bible, have also read the Quran, or vice versa? Myself included, no doubt. We are born into a religion, and unless something happens in our lives that make us question what we are born into, we accept it as truth. Yet, most of history’s religious feuds have come from political intervention and radical assumptions versus a devote understanding of the intrinsic values of the “counter-religion”. Many religions preach about forgiveness and love. How about we take it a step further from forgiveness and teach them what they do? At least so that their successors won’t make the same mistake.
A movement for educational empowerment should be a governmental bylaw. As we have a democratic system where the people can voice their opinion freely, [where the people are] created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as the U.S Constitution so eloquently states it. However, this democratic system is seriously flawed if the people have no common denominator for useful access to information and the ability to effectively communicate what they learn. John F. Kennedy is known for stating:
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country… My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.