It sometimes doesn’t take much to fascinate me. With the release of the 1998 Academy Award winning film, Titanic, being released in 3-D this week, I came across a lighthearted–yet telling–story about the power of education.
According to The Huffington Post, director James Cameron got pestered by renowned astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson about a glaring mistake in the film. Tyson criticized Cameron for the positioning of the stars in the night sky as the ship makes its journey to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Now, Cameron is known for being a perfectionist, and decided to ask Tyson for the exact alignment of the stars on April 15, 1912.
And, thanks to a famous astronomer, Cameron can proudly boast that his film is even more factually correct than when it was first released 15 years ago. So now, as we watch over a thousand people perish in the film’s final 45 minutes, at least we have the calming reassurance that they’re dying under the proper star field. Just warms the heart, doesn’t it?
This little story confirmed my core belief as to what leads to a more informed and vibrant society: Education
One of my favorite quotes of mankind is this one by Thomas Jefferson:
“If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was & never will be.”
I look at how this nation progressed since its inception and have always credited education as the main reason as to how and why we have become that “bright shining city on a hill.”
Certainly, we can all agree that one of the proudest moments in this country’s history was the passage of the G.I. Bill. That bill, passed in 1944, provided returning World War II servicemembers with all kinds of well-deserved benefits, including: low-cost mortgages, business loans, and, most importantly, loans to pursue a higher education or vocational trade.
Back then it was called patriotic. Why do I get the feeling TODAY it would be called a handout.
Something happened through the years, though, that have alarmed me when it comes to education. We used to pride ourselves on being an educated society, but now, it’s laughed at and discouraged.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here’s a brief sample of what I mean:
That was Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigning this past week in Pennsylvania. He was actually criticizing President Obama for being a Harvard graduate? Who does that? What possesses one to do that?
And what’s even more astonishing is that Romney is also a Harvard graduate. In fact, Romney received TWO degrees from Harvard, and spent one more year at that fine institution than Obama did!!! And there’s Romney jabbing Obama for spending too much time at Harvard?
He had to know that fact, right? Right?
Then, we can’t forget Romney’s main opponent, Rick Santorum, calling Mr. Obama “a snob” because he wants as many kids as possible to attend college.
So, college is now the equivalent to snobbery. Huh.
When did we begin or decide to become fearful or suspicious of education? It’s a proven fact that college graduates are more likely to earn more than those without a college degree. College also teaches people how to deal with deadlines and people from all sectors of life. Those are a couple of life lessons that employers are looking for from prospective employees.
I hear people attacking teachers, professors, and scientists on a daily basis. People who are dedicated to research and furthering the development of this country are being attacked on a daily basis. I hear it everyday by politicians and talking heads in the media.
It has led several state legislatures to severely cut their budgets to education, and especially higher education. On the national level, we just found out that Congressman Paul Ryan–Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget–has plans to drastically CUT early childhood education, Pell Grants for some college graduates, and other cuts.
On top of that, there’s a strong possibility Congress could allow for a doubling of student loan interest rates at a time when student debt is an average of $25, 000!!!
So, I don’t know about you, but it appears to me that the ELITES in this country are doing their best to discourage the rest of the rabble to pursue a higher education. Unless, of course, education can be used in a profit sense with charter schools and for-profit colleges.
If we really want to bring this country back to being the best it has been and can be, doesn’t it make sense that we should put education on the top of the list? Shouldn’t spending in the education sector increase exponentially to ensure we best maximize our efforts in creating a country that is free and civilized, in Jefferson’s words?
Do we really want to walk down that lonesome road of ignorance? That’s not America. That’s not the America I read about in school. We despise ignorance. We champion enlightenment and knowledge. Don’t travel down the lonesome road ignorance. We’ll be better if we return to our roots.
It’ll benefit us in the end. I promise.