Education is the fuel for future changes

Monday, November 10, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CST

I don't know at what point we Americans began to believe that being dumb was a good thing and that people who are smart are not like the rest of us. Actually, I know at lot of smart people that act pretty much like other people except that they don't make stupid remarks, and they think before they speak.

But now, apparently many of us are the kind of people who are willing to believe anything our political leaders tell us, no matter how ridiculous it is. We don't feel inclined to do our own research. The way I see it, that puts us dangerously close to becoming a dictatorship. It was actually scary listening to some people on their way to the polls. The only way they could defend the candidate of their choice was by using the same "speaking points" we've heard over and over again by a political candidate.

The only thing I guess we can hope for at this time is that somebody will be struck with a new vision as to how we can make education a cultural value in America again. With adults demonstrating such a reverence for stupidity, it's hard to know where to go from here. I'm always amazed when I hear young people in college say that they want to become teachers. Frankly, I can't imagine why. I'm completely bewildered as to the expectations parents have for their children. It seems to me that unless you are the kind of person willing to coddle other people's children, the teaching profession is one you should avoid. I know that some individuals think that I am exaggerating when I discuss parents and their behavior toward their children, but I have many friends and readers who have retired from this field, because they no longer felt they could make a difference.

On the few occasions when I encounter a parent who is sincerely struggling to raise their children to be productive citizens, I never fail to congratulate them. The worship of children by their parents and grandparents will undoubtedly be the hallmark of this generation. If Kahlil Gibran attempted to recite the words of his poem "Your children are not your children" to these people, he would be lucky to get away without being beheaded. These folks act as if they are the only people in human history that have been capable of producing babies.

Fortunately, many of the kids brought up by these over-indulgent parents have learned, on their own, the sense of fulfillment that comes with "paying your dues" and have chosen to contribute to society. And so it was the one refreshing aspect of this election that saw so many young people getting involved in the democratic process. They seem to have realized, even if many of their parents and grandparents did not, that our society cannot continue to function on this roller coaster ride of spending more than we earn and of acting without suffering consequences.

The problem is, how much change can we expect as long as we have these individuals with dead ideas in charge? Even the language they use is part of dead philosophies. It's not that I don't value experience, it's just that I don't mistake it for maturity. I know a lot of experienced individuals who never matured. Maturity, it seems to me, understands why a 50-year old person would never be drafted to a sports team as a rookie and why a rookie would not be chosen as a coach. Nevertheless, being well-educated in either case, will increase the possibilities for providing alternative scenarios for their ability to function as a team. Being smart is a good thing.

Only people not intellectually gifted would fail to understand that farmers who worked their land with a tractor would not view the world through the eyes of a farmer who used a horse and plow. The process is called evolution, it's the growth and development of the species. Personally, I can understand people who can only relate to individuals who are stuck in square one. These are people who are fearful and want to feel safe. I could have gone along with them for a short distance if they had not tried to stifle change by trying to strangle education.

They could not realize that the way to overcome fear is through learning how to deal with it. Although I was an adult before I took my first plane trip, my son took his as an infant. I always use that experience as a way of gauging the width of the gap between our generations. I am a member of the railroad generation and he is a member of the outer space generation. It would be a shortsighted for either of us to remain glued in those positions as the world moved on.

A friend often told people that his mother was a cruel woman because she made him get an education. He said that he was an adult before he realized that her actions were based on love.

Better late than never.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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