What Should Education Do?
Posted on February 16, 2015

I never said good-bye to my high school seniors without giving them my little speech on lifelong education and their responsibility to go on learning as long as they would live. Some bits from the news world have reminded me that not everyone shares that sentiment.

We seem to be rewriting the metrics for education, its purposes and its contents. I get upset when the governor of Wisconsin is giving serious thought to changing the mission statement of the state university from the “search for truth” to a “concern for the state’s work force needs”. Are we back to that age old argument about the dollar sign on the value of education?

Given the soaring costs of education, I can understand that one would like a “return” on the investment, but I hope we never lose sight of the intangibles that education gives any who invest in it. As citizens we need to keep an eye on what courses our colleges and universities are offering. When such basics as composition fly out the window (“with the aid of a computer anyone can write”) my English teacher’s soul shudders. Have you looked carefully at some of the suggestions your computer offers when it disagrees with your sentence structure or vocabulary?

This brings me to my other bit about education. Someone gave me a handout with a quotation from Martin Luther that I love. He said, “”If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” Well, he did, didn’t he, when he posted his theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church? In that day and age, he was asking for a discussion of his grievances. Had he been taken up on that, church history might have taken a different turn and we splintered Christians might still be one.

We cannot rewrite history, but we can look for the place of reflective writing and thinking in our own lives. Everything we learn will not and cannot be practical. Everything will not yield financial rewards, but that can never become the prime purpose of education. Have you thought about it?


Runita Jones on February 19, 2015

Sister Carol, Thanks for this post. It distresses me when my students ask why they must learn the things that I teach. As eighth graders many do not understand about intangibles, but I pray they will in time and I pray that they will reject the rush for a completely practical education.

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