Historically, public education has been the foundation for the development of our children and cultivation of our society. In many cases, the American Dream is given birth in classrooms every day for students.
Children’s imagination and enthusiasm to seek knowledge, investigate ideas, and embrace personal development are the intangible gifts that come from a quality education and the relationship between teacher and student. The resulting motivation not only provides satisfaction to the individual, but over time is the seed that produces creative and energizing ideas and solutions to problems and issues.
Quality education is important to all of us. Unfortunately, we reduce the purpose of education to simply getting into a college or gaining employment. But it is more than that, and too often we have failed to define what it means to be well educated. An education for today will be obsolete tomorrow if we only emphasize jobs and technical skills.
What the future holds is uncertain, but change is inevitable, and children will need to confront a future requiring more than the recall and recitation of facts. Education must be dynamic and ongoing, emphasizing the principles and values that form the foundation of our democracy and society.
As a nation, individuals are encouraged to follow their bliss and aspirations. Public schools are vital resources to enable each individual to have the ability and perspective to engage in that pursuit.
Happiness and meaning require an education that extends beyond content mastery to ethical understanding, divergent thinking, and cultivating wisdom. In actuality, the real search is for an individual to discover who they are—their talents, passion, and path in life.
In this process of self-discovery, they will unlock their uniqueness and understand their connections to the world, society, and family. A good education helps children recognize what wants to emerge from within them and possibilities for the future.
Children and adults need to open their minds with a fresh perspective and to perceive what is unfolding in the world. They must be mindful and aware of the integration of issues and ideas and what is evolving. An open mind and heart involve the intersection of understanding obligations to others and themselves, and in order to do that, empathy, honesty, and compassion are important.
Education must move beyond standardization and rigidity to creative environments and teaching. In an unfolding world, creativity and the continuous intellectual curiosity to respond and shape the future are required. However, the current straitjacket of overregulation and mandates inhibits creativity and intellectual curiosity in schools. Mandated educational policies like high-stakes testing and false metrical standards guarantee that teachers will not be able to establish an environment that allows children to experience and explore deeper levels of awareness, creativity, and comprehension.
Change is the consequence of inspiration, conflict, and innovation. Intellectual skills are more than literacy and numeracy. They involve: attaining information and organizing it, defining the values that undergird arguments, articulating ideas clearly, formulating new viewpoints, and questioning assumptions and theories. Being able to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate issues, concepts, and information is vital.
Problem solving involves a broad perspective across content and a deep understanding of principles and moral expectations. Comprehension of cultural values and their philosophical foundations is required for ethical decision-making and moral conduct to create and maintain a civil society.
Understanding obligations in a democratic society and gaining a sense of historical perspective about duty to family, community, and country are cornerstones to a successful way of life in our society.