Discovering the Relevance of Words
Education to me is one of the most important foundations of a functional, progressive society. Thomas Gray coined the phrase “ignorance is bliss” meaning that those who are without knowledge essentially live a life filled with happiness and void of care. When Thomas coined this phrase it was widely misinterpreted as Thomas promoting ignorance, on the contrary he was speaking of a time when it was acceptable to be ignorant, childhood. It is as children that society allows ignorance; only for a short amount of time. We begin educating our little ones as soon as they can walk and form basic sentences around ages 3-5. We do not end our required education until the ripe old age of 18. It is at this age that we may no longer be considered “ignorant,” since our ignorance is gone our bliss must also have left us. It is when we have become educated that we realize that the world is not a heavenly place, but rather a place that needs to be taken care of. If ignorance is bliss than knowledge is misery. It is education that shatters the fairy-tale land we grew to know and love as children. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not, being educated opens one up to the reality of the world. Education allows us to care and take action and improve everything around us so that we may one day relive those feelings of nostalgia and blissfulness.
It is education that separates us as a species from our ape ancestors. Education teaches us valuable skills not only academically but socially. While classes such as math and science can teach us a great deal about how the world works they cannot help us understand how we are supposed to work in the world. This is where the educators come in, yes they are supposed to give us lectures and lessons on the subjects they are certified in, they must also do so much more. From the very beginning of our quest towards becoming functional, contributing members of society we have one single rule put into our brain that everyone is supposed to follow and that is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Meaning, basically treat others as you wish to be treated. This rule was taught to every student in my class on the first day of pre-school and again in kindergarten and every class I had in elementary school. We have this one rule drilled into our psyches’ literally from day one by our teachers; this rule is the key to showing and receiving respect in any civil situation. I believe it is this rule that promotes respectful behavior and demotes disrespectful or unacceptable behaviors amongst youth. This single rule is probably the most valuable lesson that anyone can be taught; it is this rule that allows progress and prevents conflicts.
My sophomore English teacher has a saying that he would tell his students every day after each class and that was “Sponges for knowledge,” now at the time I didn’t fully understand what he meant when he said this. But then I realized that it is a simile for the human mind, our mind is the sponge and when we are young it is shriveled and dry (ignorant) and just like a sponge our minds must soak up water (knowledge). I am a sponge for knowledge now and I will be until I die, being a sponge for knowledge does not mean that you only learn what you are taught in school or by your parents, it is more than that. Being a sponge for knowledge means seeking out all types of new information, and in the age that we live in where everything is so connected the flow of information is constant, since the information is constantly flowing than so is my pursuit of knowledge.
One of my favorite phrases is “Carpe Diem” which is Latin for “Seize the Day,” I like this quote because of what it means to me which is to live life to the fullest, approach each day as if it would be your last. While this quote is nice and inspirational, it does not really apply to education in my opinion. So I Googled the Latin word for mind and found that it is Mentem, and I created a phrase more applicable to education and that is “Carpe Mentem,” or “Seize the Mind,” to me this means the opportunity for great knowledge and understanding is ours for the taking and we must take this opportunity and run with it. A mind is a terrible thing to waste and we must take advantage of it while we can. We live in a society where education is a fundamental part of life, our society regards education with the utmost importance which it should. Those who are without education are regarded as second class citizens, their lack of education does not allow for them to be fully functioning members of society. Those with an absence of education are not able to get the same opportunities as someone with a college or even a high school degree. To be uneducated is to be socially awkward.
Statistically speaking the average high school dropout is estimated to make $20,241 that is $10,386 less than the average high school graduate, and a whopping $36,424 less than someone with a bachelor’s degree. That is if they can even find a job; while the national unemployment rate stood at 8.1% last August joblessness among dropouts was 12% and 4.1% among college grads. It gets even worse with the young dropouts; those between the ages of 18-24 are twice as likely as college graduates to live in poverty. At a rate of 30.8% while those with at least a bachelor’s degree only 13.5% were living in poverty. The incarceration rates among dropouts age 16-24 is a staggering 63 times higher than that of a college graduate, although there is not a direct link between jail and the decision to leave school early. But rather those dropouts are exposed to many of the influences that are a gateway to crime.
Education is what teaches us to think critically, and to reason and make decisions. I believe it is education that makes us more docile. Those who are educated are less inclined to resort to violence to solve problems, I’m not saying that education makes us pacifist but rather it allows us to better pick our fights. An educated person is more open-minded and more inclined to suggestion and seeing things from more than one point of view. Homo sapiens were able to evolve above other sub-species of humans and other animals because of our ability to use tools and reason. It is this ability to reason that has allowed for us to be able to tolerate each other and come together to learn and improve our society and in turn bettering our country, our world, and most importantly ourselves.