For many people around the world and particularly in the US, last weeks election raised significant concerns. While I said this article was not going to be about politics, I meant it. But instead we need to talk about education.
How’s does education play a role in this discussion? The other day I had a young boy who is considering applying to boarding school in two years. He asked some very good questions about the political process in the US such as how this will affect education in the US and several other poignant questions that were impressive for a Chinese 8th grade student.
Recently a University president talked about the role of education to be able to raise, address, and confront difficult questions. That a college education’s purpose is for students to be uncomfortable while learning about and perhaps changing the dialogue that makes these very same students uncomfortable.
This morning I met with a very good friend visiting Beijing on business. He took his son to Colorado to work on a political campaign, walking door to door to encourage people to vote. Most of the people were of Hispanic background. For many of them, they did not understand the election process or why it was meaningful to them. Mostly because in their countries, the elections work in a different way and so to be asked to go vote was quite foreign for them.
Around the US, people are protesting and dealing with the challenges that confront the American citizenry and the culture. What it has inspired is an amazing learning process; a learning process that has reverberated from the UK over Brexit to the current election in the US.
My student could not understand why some groups of people don’t like other people. The answer to this is hard and explores a plethora of biases that exist in the US. I have been having him read some books like The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay and To Kill A Mockingbird by Lee Harper. It is apparent that he has learned a lot from his readings.
At the end of our conversation my student told me that, “we are all human, we eat, have families, and think many of the same things, so why do people hate others?” I suppose there are a number of reasons but one conclusion we discussed is that education is at the heart of each part of what is happening.
Education, for the most part won’t change in the US. The democratic process will undergo scrutiny and comment. Life in America will continue. There are a lot of questions that lie ahead but rather than fear the answer, as a forgone conclusion, people need to learn. Learn from the mistakes of the past. They need to confront their fears and ask good questions. Be open minded to un-cloud preconceived ideas and judgments. Education, not just in the classroom, but everywhere one may go, will help. Sadly, there will always be some inkling of prejudice, but the more we learn, experience and question, not only others, but ourselves as well, may we have a chance to live in Peace and human-hood. Reactionary fear solves nothing. Looking to create change requires an education, action, and compassion.