by Kenneth Rudich
Famous science fiction writer H.G. Wells once made his own quaint observation about the role of education. “Human history,” he quipped, “becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”
I’ve written before about the soon-to-be widely released documentary “Waiting for Superman,” directed by Davis Guggenheim, who is also known for directing “An Inconvenient Truth.” Some believe this work will raise awareness about the dilapidated state of the U.S. education system in a manner similar to what “An Inconvenient Truth” did for global warming.
At the same time, however, it also offers some cause to hold out hope for a rebound and recovery. And for that reason I don’t mind taking a moment to help market and promote it, of my own free volition.
grave issues abound in all directions
Admittedly, there is no shortage of issues begging for urgent attention in our contemporary world. I think most of us, if not all, truly get that. In fact, it very much seems like this moment in human history, the here and now, is ripe for either untold good or untold bad to happen. It’s like an inflection point, and we’re awkwardly tottering along with barely a sense of what lies ahead.
Still, we can’t lose sight of the central role education plays in all of this. It’s a cornerstone piece. All else is pretty much destined to collapse without it. Consequently, it must continue to remain right up there with every other thing that also beckons our concern.
the marketing of a marathon
H. G. Wells’ metaphor of a race is better served if it is thought about in terms of a marathon rather than a dash. It’s one that spans generations, and the legacy each current generation leaves for the one that follows will be the true measure of its greatness…or not.
So it’s a marathon, but it’s also one that involves the successful handing off of a baton, hopefully.
The race itself is about trying to eliminate the elements that threaten (or inhibit) our social, economic and environmental well-being, and instead replace them with alternatives that lift us to an ever better place: things that make us more successful, healthy, happy, safe, and secure; things that help us transform our businesses and foster improved trade; things that save us time; and things that contribute to our understanding, appreciation, preservation and enjoyment of the world in which we live.
Averting catastrophe is certainly part of the goal, but making our lives better is the ultimate prize.
Now I’m not going to suggest education is a be-all-end-all solution; that it is a guaranteed panacea; or that all other concerns will cease to exist if only we can right the ship.
But I do agree – verily – with the assessment made by Nicholas Negroponte, Co-founder of MIT’s Media Lab. He asserts, “If you take any world problem — any issue on the planet, peace, the environment, poverty — the solution to the problem certainly includes education. And if you have a solution that doesn’t include education, than it’s not a solution at all.”