Tag: Education

Education is about raising awareness

I’m reading a fascinating book — Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover. She just used a word that unpacks the meaning of education — awareness. Education makes us aware of things we did not know before.
“I had started on a path of awareness,” she writes. And this new awareness caused her to “perceive something elemental about my brother, my father, myself.”
Her brother had been calling her the N- word, even though she was white. Previously she had not been fully aware of the truth about slavery and discrimination, but college had begun opening her eyes.
“I had discerned the ways in which we had been sculpted by a tradition given to us by others, a tradition of which we were either willfully or accidentally ignorant.”
Note “ignorant,” not unintelligent. Her family had remained unknowing of certain true things.
“I had begun to understand that we had lent our voices to a discourse whose sole purpose was to dehumanize and brutalize others–because nurturing that discourse was easier, because retaining power always feels like the way forward.” (p.180)
This is why education is so important; it makes us aware of things we do not know. And our ignorance is affecting how we live our lives. Education gets us out of our prejudices, whether they be racial or whatever.

Simple pleasures

Last night, as I was getting ready to go to bed, I heard some very kind words coming from the dining room — “Thank you, Mom.”

The speaker: My youngest son, a seventh grader. He had been toiling over his pre-algebra homework with his mom by his side joining him in the struggle. His words of thanks were not slopped out as if fulfilling some kind of familial requirement of politeness. They were stated with genuine appreciation.

Trese’s help with our son’s homework has reminded me of my own mother’s help with me years ago. I struggled through the fourth grade, and every night Mom would sit with me at the dining room table and struggle with me. I was tired and grumpy near the end of the day and thought the work would never end. Mom’s commitment to me was never more greatly illustrated.

When it came time for me to move to the fifth grade, they put me in what was called the “excelerated” class with all of the smart kids. I did just fine the next three years in that group before we moved on to junior high. I would never have been put in that class if not for my mother and her tireless work.

My son is grumpy about his homework now, but he already appreciates his mom and he will appreciate her even more in the years ahead. I know.

Learning to care

Students at H. Grady Spruce High School in Dallas used to wear a button on their chests. It had an image of the mascot in the center and two simple words – “I Care.”

Those of us who wore those buttons in the early 1970s were trying to tell the world that we knew life was not just about ourselves. I still have one of those buttons sitting on my dresser almost 40 years later. It’s a reminder to me of the kind of person I want to be, of the kind of person I believe God wants me to become.

I’m so thankful my parents, church and school taught me to care and modeled it. We need more such teaching and modeling today. Jesus was the ultimate caring person. He met all kinds of needs – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. He was not a fawning do-gooder; He was a strong-minded and strong-principled man who confronted evil and proclaimed peace, hope and love. He cared so much that He lived strong and died for the weak – us.

A Jesus revival is needed today. Such a revival of spirit will see more people taking on the mantle of Jesus as they walk through this 21st century world. And if we are revived, we will care like He cared – with strength and with a willingness to sacrifice for those who are weak.

Spruce High School also had a motto that was fixed in tile in the main foyer – “Everybody is Somebody.” Only when we know that, will we really care. Everybody. Literally everybody is somebody in God’s eyes. Shame on me when I see the clothes and think I know the man, when I see the house and think I know the family, when I see the smile and think I know the life.

I want to care. God wants me to care. God wants all of us who call ourselves by His Son’s name to care – to care for everybody, because everybody is somebody.

Overwhelming importance

Some things to think about from Alfred North Whitehead, writing in 1925 in the preface to Science and the Modern World:

“This study has been guided by the conviction that the mentality of an epoch springs from the view of the world which is, in fact, dominant in the educated sections of the communities in question.” (p. viii)

Philosophy “builds cathedrals before the workmen have moved a stone, and it destroys them before the elements have worn down their arches. It is the architect of the buildings of the spirit, and it is also their solvent: –and the spiritual precedes the material.” (pp. viii-ix)

“The key to the book is the sense of the overwhelming importance of a prevalent philosophy.” (p. x)

I have at times feared philosophy, but I love it — what little I have dabbled in it. It is about knowing, and knowing can be scary, but it is also rewarding.

I love Whitehead’s line: “the spiritual precedes the material.” I fear we do to little spiritual or philosophical thinking.