Education was presented last week as the redemptive function of prison. It is most effective in a nurturing environment. Will implementing that upgrade make people on the outside jealous? Not if their own needs are being met. We readily share what we have, making the whole society better off. The plea for uplifting education applies universally.
American free public education aimed at employability and socialization. Citizens learned necessary life skills. Aristotle taught “All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.” Abraham Lincoln observed “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”
Of course, genuine education is not limited to classrooms. Learning is also provided in the family, trade schools, job training, apprenticeship, self-education and other settings. We must not ignore or neglect any of those resources. Our tools encompass everything uplifting.
As life becomes more complex, the education path becomes longer on both ends, preschool and graduate education. Traditional systems are challenged to reach today’s goals. Democracy requires that an enlightened electorate must not be limited to those born to privilege. Fairness cries for equal access in realizing (that is meeting and fulfilling) all students’ needs and aptitudes.
When a beehive needs a new queen, the workers produce one or more queens by selective feeding of larvae. If society needs more doctors, it produces more by selecting and educating the candidates who will perform well. It is a benefit to society at large and therefore an obligation of society at large. The principle works best when the selection is by aptitude and not by wealth.
The above goal can be approached in two ways: (a) all education is free; (b) all candidates have equal wealth. Closer examination reveals that these are two expressions of the same principle. They differ in the labels we put on the components. Label (a), free education, can be implemented by the next election. Label (b), wealth equality, will probably occupy the rest of my life teaching. Stay tuned!