This I believe: I believe in the power of education. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 26 states, “Everyone has the right to education.” What is behind this universal right that gives it significance? Is it having the right to know that 2 + 2 = 4 or that Texas is located next to Oklahoma on a map? Perhaps, but I believe it is much deeper than that. Education has the power to transform a person. Education teaches a person how to think and how to approach differences. Learning is fundamentally intertwined with and a catalyst for action. I believe that every human mind has a desire for knowledge, and it’s time we start making education a priority in the United States.
What kind of message is sent out when public education no longer receives sufficient funds? What kind of message is sent out when teachers receive low income? What kind of message is sent out when American youth endure poor learning facilities and out-dated education? The answer: We don’t care. American youth hear this message and see it as a reflection of their own worth. There is a correlation between low educational standards and students limiting their full potential to learn.
In the absence of education, there is ignorance. Ignorance is the foundation from which fear is created. We are fearful of the unknown and from this stems prejudice, oppression, and hatred. In high school, I saw first-hand the damaging nature of hatred. It was a morning like any other. My brother and I arrived at school only to find that the night before our school had been broken into and damaged. Our school had a large Jewish student population and on this day, they became the victims of a hate crime. Windows were shattered. Walls were hidden under swastikas and derogatory terms. How does one react to this hate? The pervasive nature of education is the only solution powerful enough to eliminate ignorance. Education generates tolerance, awareness, and confidence in approaching differences. Although I never found out who attacked our school that day, I knew they were found wanting. Their actions towards the Jewish population can translate over into their actions towards anything different from themselves. Educational philosopher, Robert Maynard once said, “a liberal education…frees a person from the prison-house of his class, race, time, place, background, family, and even his nation.” Education has the power to surpass boundaries and once you gain it, it can never be taken away. We must begin to recognize that education makes you a self-analytical person who values difference. In order to see change within our culture, we must begin to value education. It is the key to eliminating the negative label that is placed on diversity.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.