Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A New Beginning

I have long believed that each of us has the potential to make living better for others, to make this world a better place.  With that belief I have also held a belief that what is right is apparent and true.  In other words, I struggle with accepting that some people put their own needs, or more precisely their own wants before the needs of others.  But it holds true that some people want the world to be a better place for them, regardless of the expense to others.  It is the self-centered view of life that so many seem to hold that prevents the world from becoming a better place for all of us.  In this respect, I still hold that what is right is true, but I recognize that what is right is not immediately apparent.

I suppose that is of the highest calling to remove desire from one's heart and mind so that one may give more readily to those in need.  In this time of Christmas when every Christian speaks nobly of giving, it seems a bit ironic that the giving has also created a zeal for receiving that borders on avarice, which is one of the seven deadly sins.  Even in the act of giving, the self withholds much.  I walk out of the grocery store to hear the bell ringing and I see the red bucket that asks for any amount I would be willing to give.  Perhaps out of shame, I cannot walk past the bucket without putting something inside it.  But I find myself limiting my donation to a dollar.  In my mind I justify my meager donation: I will pass by several buckets this season.  If I give a dollar each time, I will have given several dollars to charity.  But I wonder if I am not also thinking, I will give a dollar so that those who see me will think of me as charitable, but I cannot give more than that for I need the rest of the dollars that I have.  My donation is marred by my desire to be seen as noble and by my desire to keep what wealth I have to myself.

As educators, we must know the value of an education.  When a student learns, the student becomes hopeful.  That which he or she learns speaks of the potential of a better tomorrow.  A girl becomes the first in her family to graduate from high school.  She wonders how far she might go.  A boy learns to enjoy reading for the first time, and he wonders what he might learn all his life.  When we offer a person an education, we offer that person hope, we nurture goodness and potential.

But too many educators have not made this their goal.  I am not sure what it is they have set as their goal.  Dr. Tony Bennett, the lame duck superintendent of Indiana schools, has prided himself on school reform.  He points to numbers stating that test scores have improved.  But does he ever ask himself whether those test scores prove that students have the ability to learn on their own.  Students regurgitate what they have been taught to regurgitate, but can they think on their own.

When we allow our self-image to be of more importance than the education of a child, we fail not only the child and a generation.  When we join bandwagons for popular ideas that have no merit we make ourselves feel better, but we fail our society. 

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