BEGINNING OF THE SCHOOL YEAR 2016
THE EDUCATIONAL CHALLENGE
By Mgtr. Ariadne Iglesias de Domínguez
Democratic intellect. Every citizen has the right to accumulate intellectual capital.
I would like to analyze, as a healthy mental exercise, the possible answer to the following question: What is education for?
Faithfully, I think that education is good as long as it is kept in its most innocent and elementary state -education as the cornerstone of a civilised society- and as means to make societies ensure that their knowledge will be distilled and only the best will be handled to future generations.
Education, personally, more than simple teachings in classrooms is a liberal and emancipatory value. It is the means by which individuals, regardless of gender, race, or creed, have access to cultural, social and economic assets. I faithfully believe that education is what allows individuals become true authors, not just actors, of the story of their lives.
Because of experience, I know that the opportunities that I have enjoyed are in their core, a direct consequence of the education I received. Maybe I value education so much, because it has given me so much – but it gave me the most, and I value the most, is that it gave me the opportunity of shaping my own destiny. For many people, living is a matter of dealing with the decisions of others, living according to patterns imposed by others. In my case, and of all those who received the gift of knowledge by the hand of amazing teachers, we’ve been given the precious and priceless freedom to follow our own paths.
This freedom is directly related to the second value of education – a driver of real social justice. The best way to help maximize the potential of individuals, create equal opportunities, is to ensure the best possible education for as many as possible.
Education, properly understood, also has a value that I consider less appreciated by all. This value was expressed by Michael Oakeshott when he mentioned that all human beings are born heir to an inheritance, “an inheritance of human achievements; a legacy of thoughts, beliefs, ideas, understandings, intellectual and practical prowess, languages, works of art and so on…” Education makes us masters and lords of this inheritance. Every child should have the opportunity to know the best that has been thought and written. Denying such opportunity to spread knowledge and appreciation, enjoyment, and familiarization with the best of our civilization is perpetuating a very tragic and specific deprivation.
Schools are places where the horizons are extended and eyes are opened. The greatest artists and thinkers are great precisely because their legacies have the ability to be mobilized and influence us all. Therefore, we cannot deny its influence to any child based on preconceptions that are born from cultures of mental lazyness, ignorance or fear.
We are a few days away from starting a new academic year, a period that if we defined as ‘attending to school’ we would be disregarding entirely, because during these months, many young people will live amazing experiences, forme eternal bonds of friendship, mold their personalities and will have access to intellectual freedom, social justice and to the intellectual inheritance that they own because of the simple fact of being. Let us all be part of this wonderful process, let us value the efforts of our children and let us value education because that is what education is for.