Thursday, October 02, 2008

On Education

I am currently engaged in the ordeal of acquiring a teaching credential.
It's a strange sort of thing, doing this program. There's so much nonsense mixed with so much valuable information that it's hard to know which is which.

To quote Areopagitica (because, hey, why not?): "Good and evil we know in the field of this world grow up together almost inseparably; and the knowledge of good is so involved and interwoven with the knowledge of evil, and in so many cunning resemblances hardly to be discerned, that those confused seeds which were imposed upon Psyche as an incessant labour to cull out and sort asunder, were not more intermixed. It was from out the rind of one apple tasted that the knowledge of good and evil, as two twins cleaving together, leaped forth into the world. And perhaps this is that doom which Adam fell into of knowing good and evil, that is to say of knowing good by evil."

And of knowing sense by nonsense.

In any case, I'll press on, do my work, turn in my assignments, and with any luck, I'll get my credential and secure a job for myself. Life is funny. I never in a million years would have thought that I would have wound up a teacher. Stranger things have happened, but always to other people.

If the credentialing process is anything to go by, teaching is a strange, strange profession. Education is a religion of sorts in this country. We dispense knowledge in the faith that education will raise the quality of life for all who receive it. It's our sacred cow in budgetary matters (think about how angry people get when they thing someone is cutting money from education), our chosen instrument of social reform, and simultaneously both the greatest resource of and the greatest threat to the continuation of our democracy: a well-educated populace is necessary for a functional democracy; a well-educated populace is clear-sighted enough to rise up in Revolution against an oppressive and corrupt government. But well-educated by whose standards? In public education? The government's. Catch 22. But I'll press on. No matter how much it creeps me out to think that the government is educating its own populace, no matter how horrifying the potential for abuse is in that arrangement, I'll press on.

Even idealists need to eat.

So here's to you, my future students, whoever you are. May you become the kind of educated people our country needs. May you be able to think rationally and (though the word is overused almost to the point of nonmeaning) critically about the world around you. May you mount up with the wings of eagles and help to create the sort of world you would want to live in. You won't have an easy time of it, I'm afraid. The idolatrous hopes of the United States of America rest in you, the student population. It is you who will be worshiped as soldiers, the idols of our hearts, condemned and stripped of your rights as criminals, condescended to as the middle class, ignored as the poor, embraced as the rich and the unexpectedly successful, lied to, manipulated, and ultimately may well be destroyed by a society in which the mass is still simple and the seers are no longer attended to. As C.S. Lewis wrote, "On or back we must go; to stay here is death." It is you who will decide this. Again, it will not be easy. But only very rarely are things which are worth doing things which are easy to do. The work of the transformation of our world for the better lies before us all.

Let's get to it.

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