September 11, 2011

Education: Our True Homeland Security

Sunday 11 September 2011
by: William J. Astore, Truthout | Op-Ed

Today's students see education as a means to an end, the end being a respectable job with decent pay and benefits.

And who can blame them? With the national unemployment rate at 9.1 percent (a percentage that doesn't include part-timers seeking full-time employment and those unemployed who have simply given up looking for jobs), students are understandably worried about career prospects.

Many college students are also worried about paying back their student loans; operating under such financial pressure, a focus on salary and the possibility of pay raises and promotions is hardly surprising.

Combine these personal pressures with a stalled economy and a political realm that increasingly sees public service as wasteful and unnecessary, and it's no wonder that education is being reduced to another for-profit venture: another fungible commodity in a world driven by money and the bottom line.

But education is much more than a commodity. At its best, education is a transformative experience. It opens new horizons to us; it helps us to envision new possibilities even as it serves to sustain our freedoms.

How do we recapture education's idealism in an environment driven by parsimony and focused relentlessly on short-term issues of solvency and relevance?

How about redefining education as our true Homeland Security? A security based not on military power or intrusive surveillance but on creativity and critical thinking and informed citizenship? How about stimulating and facilitating a lifelong pursuit of fresh ideas and innovative solutions to national and global challenges?


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