Goodbye 2018 – a year of highs and lows like most. But if I might make an observation, after all this is my letter, things seem to be in general getting worse. Sometimes scarily so. Now a large part of that is just the daily diet of doom and terror peddled to us by lazy media in order to sell papers, true. Yet even when I have a good long think about just what the problem is, I still come to the same conclusion; things are not getting better.
Our society, the proud western civilization that has given us our knowledge and freedoms is sick. Across the world, information is dismissed as “fake news” if it is not pleasing to the recipient. Political parties and ideologies previously considered fringe and extreme are increasingly creeping into the mainstream, pandering to base needs and making promises they can never hope to cash. Closer to home in Britain, the Brexit saga shambles on making an embarrassment of a country once famed for being sensible.
And what’s the common thread that links all this you may ask? Simple – we, as a society have proudly cultivated a culture of ignorance, where one person's feelings in relation to a subject are given the same value as another person's thouroughly researched facts. This has profound problems because reality really doesn’t care what we would like to be true; gravity isn’t going to stop working just because you believed hard enough.
Of course, as an Educator my solution is simple and obvious – education! But humour me for a moment when I explain why. Ours is a crisis born of an overall lack of respect for knowledge and teaching as a profession. Our government is not investing enough in education. How much great potential, I wonder, is snuffed out in the schools and colleges of this country as the young, in whom the future of our entire civilization rests, give up on learning? It is well known that teaching in our country is not a well regarded vocation. It isn’t like this elsewhere in the world. Indeed in many countries the title teacher is one of implicit respect and the culture strongly emphasizes the importance of learning. The students too understand the importance of an education and the doors that it opens for them. All too often, excelling at school is the only hope many young people may have to build a life for themselves and families make huge sacrifices to see they get that chance.
So lets do our part to redeem the good name of education in our society. Lets advocate for reason and argument backed up by proper facts and civil discussion with those we disagree with. Lets do what we can to rehabilitate the good name of teachers and bring respect for education back to the forefront of our society. All of the great problems we face, growing inequality, climate change, environmental devestation, pollution, all of them will require educated people to observe, test and observe again until a viable solution is reached. So where do we start?
It starts with a little Critical Thinking. It starts with us being able to sift through the mire of information we have access to and establishing what is true and what is not.
Let's start 2019 with the aim to educate ourselves, in whatever capacity that may be.
Until next time,