Based on Martin Luther King, Jr., education and learning plays a number of critical roles within our society, including:
To save man from the morass associated with propaganda… Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, in order to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction…; [and]
to teach one to think intensively and to think vitally. But education which stops along with efficiency may prove the greatest nuisance to society.
It seems appropriate, then, as we method the 50th anniversary of Dr . King’ s “ I Have a Dream… ” speech to take a look at the way we are stacking up when it comes to their notions of education.
To Save Man from the Morass of Propaganda
In this, the mature stages from the Information Age, we are individually and societally overwhelmed by propaganda, which usually Merriam-Webster (online) defines as “ the particular spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or hurting an institution, a cause, or a person”. Through social media, 24-hour television and radio, the Internet and even blogs like here, we are pounded by bias and opinions that are trying to persuade us to act or think in one way or another — usually to click on or buy something. It can be awfully difficult to “ sift and weigh” the information that we are presented with and to “ discern the true from the false”.
On the other hand, I think we have been much better at it than we were 20, or probably even ten, years ago, because we have become much more adept at gleaning what is accurate, or at least useful, from the all the flash, splashy, over-the-top crap we have to sort through each day of the electronic era. One area in which Americans have displayed such skepticism is in the value of higher education in light of its soaring costs.
A 2010 report released by Public Agenda on behalf of the particular National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education indicated that we are fulfilling King’ s notion associated with what eduction should be: we are sifting through the propaganda that colleges and universities are feeding us about the skyrocketing expense of attending college. Public Agenda reported that we are “ progressively more frustrated with higher education and more suspicious that colleges and universities are cost-effective and doing all they can to keep tuition affordable. ”
When King spoke of education, maybe he wasn’ t speaking of it in a sense of the more formal, institutionalized learning experience that we think of whenever we consider education. The more formal idea of education has become a commodity. Americans believe “ that higher education is… more necessary” than ever in order to find gainful employment. Colleges seem to be taking advantage of this reality by hiking costs. They warrant tuition increases with arguments concerning the quality of education: they need to charge more in order to maintain educational specifications.
Education Which usually Stops with Efficiency May Show the Greatest Menace to Society
King would be proud of our ability to discern “ the reality from the fiction” when it comes to education. Most of respondents surveyed for the 2010 Open public Agenda report were skeptical regarding institutional claims regarding educational high quality. According to the report, 60% of respondents feel that colleges are more like company that care more about their bottom line than the educational experiences of their students. Nearly 70% believe that people are being denied access to higher education because the price of attendance is simply too expensive. As one respondent said, “ ‘[W]e are getting a better idea of what [schools] really care about, and yes it isn’ t the educational experience of [their] students. ’ ”
At the same time, Dr . King would be disappointed in the way the higher education system has placed this kind of emphasis on economic efficiency, to the great detriment of education education alone. On the other hand, King may argue that many of today’ s educational institutions are not in the industry of truly educating people.
In his work, The Purpose of Education , King says that the “ goal of accurate education” is to instill “ cleverness plus character” in individuals. In case you look at the advertisements and propaganda that will institutions today use to lure within students, particularly for-profit, online schools but also the more traditional public and private schools, it is clear which they approach students with an economic information. They say that their students get jobs. They say that their students are more successful. Meanwhile, their students are, in reality, simply just poorer, strapped with debt that they cant afford because the promised job hasn’ big t materialized.
So , when hardship leads to character, maybe today’ s colleges are, in fact , fulfilling King’ s hopes for true education and learning. But their leaders are not displaying much character in doing so.