Putting Your Thinking Cap On

A good education can change the world

We ARE the new generation of philosophers, discoverers, and inventors. Don’t believe me? Well, weren’t the Greeks, say, Aristotle or Plato, just the same human beings as we are? All they did was think and analyze things critically to change the world. Who says we can’t do that either? We have all the resources of the world, and even MORE than what the ancient, acclaimed Greeks and writers of classics had. Why not use all these resources?

I read a lecture taught by Dr. Mortimer J. Adler, the Chairman of the Board of Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica, addressed to the Harvard Extension School in 1990. His lecture, “The Great Books, the Great Ideas, and a Lifetime of Learning,” focuses on three concepts: the importance of schooling, the idea that education is timeless, and the principles of a Paideia (education) reform. He says that “The three main objectives of schooling are: preparation for earning a living; preparation for intelligent fulfillment of one’s civic duty; and preparation for fulfilling one’s moral obligation to lead a morally good life, enriched by the continuation of learning.” As for the principles of an education reform, Dr. Adler states that it is important for “genuine equality of educational opportunity–not just the same quantity of schooling, but the same quality for all.”

This idea of a liberal arts education for the general public is very needed these days. Dr. Mortimer Adler expresses strongly in his book, “How to Read a Book,” that education is not just a matter about knowing, but understanding. Thomas More even admiringly perceives in his book, Utopia, that people “have a particular sagacity, founded upon much observation, […] but as to the philosophy of these things, […] they dispute of them partly as our ancient philosophers have done.” More understands and pushes the importance of education, because he trusts that humans are all born with an innate sense of wisdom. I find it super intriguing that we should have the same mindsets and facilities as the philosophers of the past. By educating ourselves, and reaching out to everyone, including those who don’t usually have access to great classics or a liberal arts education, we can nurture and create a more understanding society.

Even if “Utopia” means “no place,” it is portrayed as a “good place,” which I think gives hope for a morally stable society. Let’s say, the key to survival today in this competitive society is to be influenced with good, and fed daily with morality. In order for advancement in an individual’s education, there must be a community aspect and effort, and as Dr. Adler urges in his multiple books, educational reform must be of a national scale. Utopia also strongly encourages that a reform in the social institutions that essentially, cookie-cut individuals and place them in the bold hands of society, must be reformed to see any changes. In the textbook we’ve been reading for class, A History of Western Society, the editor, McKay, admits worriedly, “Today this view is so much taken for granted that it is difficult to appreciate how radical More’s approach was in the sixteenth century.” In essence, I think we must all take advantage of the educational resources we have to change the world.

Works Cited

Adler, Mortimer J., “The Great Books, the Great Ideas, and a Lifetime of Learning.” Lowell Lecture Series. Harvard Extension School. 11 April 1990. Lecture. http://www.dce.harvard.edu/pubs/lowell/madler.html

Adler, Mortimer, and Charles Van Doren. How to read a book. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1940. 431-iv. eBook. http://books.google.com/books?id=Z5PpkQadm5EC&printsec=frontcover&dq=mortimeradler&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZDcwT_reDaKciQL50bySAw&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAQ

McKay, John P. , et al. A History of Western Society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008. Print.

More, Thomas. “Utopia/Chapter 6.” Wikisource, The Free Library. 5 Sep 2011, 11:52 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 13 Feb 2012 http://en.wikisource.org/w/index.php?title=Utopia/Chapter_6&oldid=3364119

Picture source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_CEF5vCsfm4E/TUJwtZAekJI/AAAAAAAAAaQ/81YGV5i-GNE/s320/change-the-world.jpg

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8 comments

  1. brianthemathematician

    Great post; I think there are some nice ideas here. I don’t really get why the current people don’t have the right idea of a liberal arts education. I may have been reading too much into this, but if this is what you mean, could you please explain it a bit to me?

    • kristin888

      Hi Brian,
      Thank you so much for reading my post!
      I think what I’m trying to say is that currently, there might be a decline in providing a balanced liberal arts education to everyone. We have so many resources, but not using them can deprive society of really advancing. It’s not that the current people don’t have the right idea of a liberal arts education, I just think that this kind of education should be accessible to all people, and not just the certain few who may have more social advantage than others.
      I hope this helps!

      Best,

      Kristin

  2. katiereindeer

    How does education create a more understanding society?

    • kristin888

      Hi Katie!
      To answer your question: A liberal arts education can help build strong relationships, and ultimately, lead to a mutually understanding society. We deal with many issues today, whether globally or locally, and I think it’s important for everyone to understand the significance of these problems before trying to tackle them. A liberal arts education creates open-mindedness and intellectual creativity, which I think is essential to finding solutions to our society’s problems.

      Best,
      Kristin

  3. amandagowithit

    I like your points you made that education do really seem to the root to success, or the base. I’m still not quite sure about the ending paragraph, and that during this competitive society “goodness” is the only thing that can save it? I find its great if you treat it well, but even with all the bad things like the society we have today, all you can do it learn to live with it…

    • kristin888

      Hi Amanda,
      Thanks for your thought-provoking comment! I think that the question of good vs. evil in this society is very open-ended. I feel that education can help establish good morals for people. I have to agree, it is quite hard to juggle maintaining “goodness” or morality when surrounded with all sorts of bad influences in society, but on the larger scope, a good liberal arts education can be an added value to the society we are living.
      Hope this answers your question!

      Best,
      Kristin

  4. mralexacademic2014

    Very interesting information presented, but what do YOU think about education? I agree with most of your points, how liberal arts educations are important, but who is it important to you?

    • kristin888

      Hi Alex,
      Thank you for your questions!
      I believe that education is the most important element in life because it extends people’s potentials to the maximum. I have always valued education, and I think that a strong liberal arts education opens people’s minds and allows critical thinking and social skills to be applied to life. Like I said in my post, a good education comes with good morals. Having good morals can be the beginning to changing the world. In addition, I think that there will never be a time when one will stop learning. Education is lifelong, and therefore there should always be opportunities for everyone to receive the same quality of a good education.

      Best,
      Kristin

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