Salon Discussion #1
In 2021, I raised a question asking what does it mean to be an “educated American”? More specifically, what should our students have acquired (purpose of education) after successfully participating in the American educational indoctrination system? To be completely transparent, I frankly did not know where to start to approach this profound existential topic yet in order to discuss, evaluate and CHANGE our current educational indoctrination system one must be wiling dissect the question and think outside the norm potentially exposing your own crazy to see if anything resonates. So, get ready to think, debate and reconsider who WE might hope to BE post our formal education.
Educators, sociologists, anthropologists and regular folks alike have all contemplated the topic of “being educated” in a world community, throughout history and in these modern times, with theorists making global pronouncements about strategies to indoctrinate people accordingly. One of my favorite YouTube educators and agent provocateur states that “indoctrination refers to the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically (means with a lack of criticism or consideration without defining whether something is right or wrong.)” The world-wide pandemic has only reignited a new found interest in tackling the subject of indoctrination as we seem to be in the mist of a seaCHANGE resulting from the current uncertainty exposing our highest ideals as well as our most deepest and shameful secret thinking patterns, beliefs and behaviors about “US”, our country and the global community.
Every 80 years – in 2021, 1941, 1861, and 1781 – America has faced a crisis. Each crisis changed our economy and our society in deep and long-lasting ways, that forever afterwards split our memories of the past into “before” and “after” the crisis.
These crises come along every 80 years, “once in a lifetime”, for a reason. It takes a lifetime for America to change, for our compromises, contradictions, and conflicts to come to a head.Marc Cenedella – Founder of Ladders & Author
There can be no doubt that WE are in the mist of something potentially revolutionary, a once in a lifetime set of circumstances, as it relates to our educational indoctrination system (what should be taught and how best to administer it universally).Yet, the field of education cannot be taken out of context from our overall culture and the politics of this country. They are as natural and intertwined as some children’s favorite and potentially dangerous snack for others (only if peanut allergies of course) – – the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The field of Education is directly connected to our collective politics and societal beliefs, norms and mores and cannot be inextricably made separate. For the sake of discussion, however, I hope to offer a few benchmarks determining the standards for defining an “educated American” based upon my own thoughts as well as musing proposed by some other renowned thinkers. Research has shown that it still remains a rare conversation to contemplate, craft and design our educational indoctrination system (schools and curriculum) around this question at the local, state, or federal levels.
In 2012, a group of panelists at Harvard University defined “educated” to mean that “students should leave school with a deep understanding of themselves and how they fit into the world, and have learned what some call “soft skills” — complex problem-solving, creativity, entrepreneurship, the ability to manage themselves, and the ability to be lifelong learners.” This general description resonated for me as well since the current teaching strategies focus on creating lessons that foster higher levels of thinking. Education must go beyond good test scores, memorization, competition and winning at all costs. Schools environments must also stimulate an inherent curiosity, humility and cooperation from students since they need to coexist together in a world where one can never trUly know everything, perform at the highest level or always be the best in every circumstance.
So based upon these parameters, here is my summary of what the “educated American” could embody after going through our educational indoctrination system. Students would:
- BE compassionate, empathetic, caring, loving individuals understanding that we are ALL contributors and a part of this American family in a global world that is both intertwined and interconnected.
- BE able to think analytically, critically and independently in order to make personal decisions and choices for the betterment for themselves and the broader collective society.
- BE encouraged to pursue, explore and master their dominate multiple intelligences (Verbal-linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Visual-spatial, Musical, Naturalistic, Bodily-kinesthetic, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal intelligences) as defined by educator Harold Gardner throughout their educational experience.
- BE curious, lifelong learners encouraged to grow, expand and CHANGE reflecting our cultural identity, the country’s workforce needs and societal norms.
- BE able to embody the core principles and highest values of our diverse and evolving democratic society founded upon factual and trUthful information, discussions, evaluations and criticism.
The ideas presented above represent the most idealistic views for humankind, not just Americans. I do not harbor secret misanthopic sentiments but embrace a lucid vision (I have a dream …. as Dr. Martin Luther King would say ) for what we, as individuals and as a collective, might be able to accomplish together. It is simply clear to me that WE might need to take a harder look at our educational indoctrination system to see if it currently encourages students to embody our highest ideals and to become the grandest versions of what they could BE. Our educators have done a gallant job but as I look around the globe, there are other countries that have seemingly taken even more action systemically to CHANGE resulting in a better job for its citizenry. It should also be noted that these counties accomplished these results not without adversity. They also may have not had the same exact challenges we’ve tackled in attempting to unify our diverse melting pot of humanity. My only goal now is to potentially define the notion of the “educated American” from a more global perspective building off a trUthful historical narrative.
There is indeed a lot to ponder and debate in this arena and in no way do I think we’ve fully captured all there is to say about the subject. But just like any good teacher, one hopes this discussion (Salon #1) will encourage YOU to use your own intellect and prowess to confirm, refute and expand upon these musings. Perhaps this is just a lucid dream for “US“ but at least YOU now have the floor to envision a Nu American educational indoctrination system post 2021.