The Purpose of Education for #FeministFriday

Hello, and welcome to another Feminist Friday post! After 6 weeks of conversations, which you can find information about here, we realized that we had both barely scratched the surface of Feminism – and that we needed a good starting place, an area to spend more time on. What has been decided on first for focus is Education.

I had volunteered to host a post for Feminist Friday this month, and with the topic of Education, I volunteered to get us started. We’re considering talking about Education through age ranges, from early childhood – before schools even – through childhood, adolescence, and into secondary education – and on into adult education. But before hitting any of that, I felt that the place to start is with the purpose of Education.

While this might especially mean the purpose of formal education systems, I think that the question also applies to early childhood, lifelong learning, home schooling, and any number of other ways you might consider Education. Or at the very least, I would like us thinking about these things as we consider the purpose of Education.

I don’t want to present myself as having the answer to this, either. This is a conversation starter. I have some sources I want to point out, and I’ve done some thinking and reading. I’d also like to present a bit of my personal experience with Education. However, at the end, I will have two polls – about what we think the current purpose of Education is, and what we think the purpose of Education should be. And the comments board is open – please join in the conversation! Holly and I will both be giving that a look today.

Why Education and Feminism?

I figure if I am starting a conversation about both Feminism and Education, we have to start with this question. Where is the connection? Is it simply educating people about the existence of Feminism?

Happily, I have an answer to the question, one that we have mentioned on the blog before. The documentary Girl Rising, about girls, education, and the developing world. A deep international look at the power of educating girls. I can’t tell you everything from the documentary, and in many ways, I shouldn’t try to. On their website, they keep track of screenings and help you set up your own in your area – if this documentary intrigues you, check it out and see if you can get some people together and watch it. We got a group of over 100 together to watch it a few months back. Very positive responses.

I think the element that I can most easily share with you are the statistics from the film. Here is a link where they are gathered together, along with their sources. Now, imagine Liam Neeson reading the statistics. You’re halfway there.

Girl Rising Statistics

They move on from the statistics like this to tell a very human story, by telling stories written by the girls themselves, with help from someone local to their country, at least. It’s not just a Western-constructed film about making us feel bad – it’s full of hope. And it talks about the power of education, the things that it can change in the places where it’s not universal. 

Because it’s harder to tell the effects of education where it’s universal.

This documentary shows very clearly why Education is important as an aspect of Feminism. Educating girls has a phenomenal impact not only on those girls, but on their children, on their society as a whole. The movie somewhat concludes that if we did a better job, globally, of educating girls, we would have a substantially, measurably better world.

My Educational Experiences

In thinking about this topic, besides thinking about Girl Rising, I am thinking about my own experiences. I have been in basic American public school. I have been in a school-within-a-school – including International Baccalaureate. I have a Bachelor’s in a field which does not directly equate to a job – History – and then a Master’s in a professional field – Library Science. My most recent experience with education was this last semester, helping as a TA for a Master’s of Education course on Digital Citizenship.

All this is to say, I have seen many of the aspects of Education. 

So I have experienced Education being unrelated to employment and job success. I have experienced Education being focused on testing. I have experienced Education where the point seems to be to get you to the end and out. I have experienced Education that seemed mainly to be a gateway to going to college. 

I have also experienced Education that was focused on learning how to learn – an admirable life skill, but not a specific one that can go on a resume. Also, if you have to be in a special program for that to be the focus – then apparently that is not the goal of the rest of the Education system? 

Out of all of these experiences, what was the benefit? What did I get out of going through an Education system? And how can I tell, surrounded by a country full of people who have also gone through an Education system?

The Value of Education

I got a lot of perspective on this actually by watching Girl Rising. The first level of observation is just in watching these girls – in societies that do not necessarily value them, or else do not value education, or else both. And you watch them fighting for Education, fighting to be in a classroom. And you see their families fighting with them – or fighting against them. I walked away the first time with this feeling of, “Hey, they clearly see some value in Education. What am I missing?.”

In watching it the second time, however, I got deeper into it – to a level I have mentioned briefly before. The idea that, in these societies where there are very traditional roles, maybe especially for girls and women – that Education exposes them to something else. To the other possibilities in the world. To the other ways that people live in the world. It shows that there is another way, that things do not have to always and forever be the way they have been.

This is the power in literacy, in reading. I argue that a book gives you the knowledge that you are not alone in the universe – that there is someone else out there, thinking things you have never thought before. Sometimes we read someone with a similar life or experience to us, to let us know we are not alone. Sometimes we read something entirely different from what we have experienced, to fill us with wonder. 

At its most basic, I think that Education gives us the skills to be more than we were. Okay, but this is to vague and simple that you can’t quite build systems for Education around this. So this leads us back to our question, now with some of my thinking behind us, and with some statistics and thoughts to lean on.

Now for your thoughts.

The Purpose of Education

I don’t know that there is one answer or an easy answer. I think it will be different depending on region, on country, and probably on our age. Then you factor in personal experience.

So I know, it’s Wikipedia, but I looked through the page on the History of Education in the United States. Combined with my experiences, my thoughts on the topic, thoughts from Girl Rising… I have compiled a list of possible answers to the question, “what is the purpose of Education?” Go with this question however you want to: local, personal, Education systems or outside of schools. 

There are two polls: the first is, What do you think the purpose of Education is? The second then is, What do you think the purpose of Education should be? I have left it open for multiple answers, as well. And the comments are open for even more of an answer. Do you have an issue with one of the things I put? Did you add something to the list and want to explain it? Personal stories? Let us know in the comments below!

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75 responses to “The Purpose of Education for #FeministFriday

  1. Reblogged this on Sourcerer and commented:
    The Feminist Friday discussion post is up! I have a little work to do this morning, but will chime in later today.

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  2. Thank you very much for hosting this discussion! Talking about what education is and should be is a very good idea before we embark on discussing its different stages.

    I think that one of the biggest things about education is literacy and expanding one’s horizons to become an active citizen. With all the countries where education isn’t a given, especially for girls, I find it sad when in countries like the US or France, where education is of much easier and generalized access, it is seen as something not that useful or a necessary evil. Education could benefit from some evolution depending on the settings and pedagogy, but to me seeing education as granted is like seeing the right to vote (in the countries where we have it) the same way: it is ignoring that on a global scale it still is a privilege that people fought for to obtain.

    Thanks to education we are able to do better in the present and be able to build a better future not only for one’s own life, but for the people around them.

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    • I think so too: regardless of what it’s purpose should be, in countries with universal education, what it is and what it should be are going to be different – because we’ve forgotten why education matters! Just like voting numbers are down, because people don’t care enough to vote.

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  3. I think this discussion lends itself to intersectionality issues. Clearly education has a role in oppressed groups undermining the control exerted by whatever or whoever is oppressing them (those girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram for taking a physics exam being the most recent obvious example). In such cases, I think the purpose of education is to teach its citizens to push the boundaries of the status quo out and improve their community, whether locally or nationally or globally (William Kamkwamba, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”, and Arunachalam Muruganantham, the guy who made the tampon machines in India are both great examples and both self-educated).

    I mean that probably applies domestically too, but I think we’d be doing ourselves (and feminism) a disservice if we failed to look at education more broadly. We tend to assume that ideally, education feeds into a meritocracy, but that assumption only works if the educational system is truly equal and universal to begin with. When schools in the US are divided along socioeconomic lines – and if you’ve been following Ta-Nehisi Coates’ piece on reparations, that also means racial lines – it becomes more obvious how awful our educational system is at providing every student with the same opportunities to thrive. Then in turn it’s easy to see why girls are still being discriminated against. So right now, it sure seems like the purpose of education is to solidify the structural and systemic constraints keeping the privileged privileged and the unprivileged unprivileged. This probably seems like a very bleak outlook, but I also feel like we are more aware of it now, and I really hope being aware of it helps affect change.

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  4. Aaaand I forgot to close that tag. Sorry 🙂

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  5. Just checking in before work… Seeing some nice activity already! Will keep paying attention to the conversation throughout the day, and want to give some thoughtful responses so, I’ll be back!

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  6. One of the things I think about in all of this is literacy. If a person is illiterate, then wherever they are, it is easier to take advantage of them, easier to keep them complacent, easier to do a lot of things that don’t benefit them.

    Directions on medication; nutrition information; road signs; contracts—those are all things rendered impossible or infinitely more difficult when one cannot read. Then there are the benefits that are missed by not being able to read for pleasure—the information about new places and people, the awakening of imagination, etc.

    Education is such a big field that I almost don’t know where to start. Literacy skills, though, and critical thinking, are probably where I would start if I had to. An illiterate person is easier to “manage” than a person who is literate.

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    • Agreed – and there are lots of people who can “read,” as in they can read street signs, names, probably basic instructions, so they get by in day-to-day life, but they can’t comprehend more than a few basic sentences at a time. They can’t actually read and understand an essay or a book or a blog post. I see this a lot in the library and at school, especially when I was in the community college. It makes it really difficult to do well in school or to get a good job, not to mention the information about new places and people, imagination, etc., general benefit to the person, as you mention.

      I feel like when I say this, people think I mean we should make it so students don’t have to read a lot of text in school, or that places of employment should hire people who can’t read as information workers. It’s like they don’t even realize we could actually TEACH people to read, that literacy is a secondary characteristic that can be changed.

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      • Yes, I agree. There seems to be this prevailing attitude that if you don’t know something, it’s because you don’t want to know it. And that just isn’t always the case, even here in the U.S. I think it goes back to something that Gene’O mentioned in another comment—class. We don’t like to talk about class and how it affects huge parts of American culture, and yet it does. We fancy that we all have the same opportunities, but that doesn’t hold true.

        But I think that literacy is a step to combating that— particular reading/writing, but also technological literacy, which is increasingly important. The skills that come with those things are immeasurable.

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        • As a librarian, I know there are several buzz words humming around these forms of literacy – terms like Information Literacy, Media Literacy, and Digital Citizenship. These all take on important thoughts like usability, searching, cyber bullying, access and accessibility, critical thinking and understanding bias.

          In the Digital Citizenship class I was helping moderate, the discussion was pretty bleak. All these young teachers who completely got it, the need for their students to understand the Internet and technology – talking about their school districts where there was no money for it, or worse no support from their administrators or districts.

          If we hit 100% on traditional literacy literacy, and don’t teach anything about technology… our students will still not be prepared for the future.

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          • I agree, digital literacy is something we need to get a handle on. It’s important because submitting an online portfolio for a 101 course requires a certain level of digital literacy. People who get to college without the basic skills needed to do tasks like that – the types of tasks that people who are well-versed in technology view as simple – are at a real disadvantage.

            And class is definitely an issue. Computer labs cost money, so teaching this stuff is more difficult for poorer districts. Diana and I have been circling around class for months. We haven’t figured out how to deal with it yet, because it’s kind of a hot button issue and we don’t want to just start a big ol’ fight. But at some point, I’m going to have to talk about it in one of these posts.

            Just trying to catch up. This turned into an epic thread.

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    • This is a huge factor–and one I missed in mine since you can’t fight ignorance fully without literacy.

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      • It seems like one of the key places to start, but there are also ideologies at work that have to be fought, too. We’re way ahead of where we once were, at least in some ways, but we still have a ways to go.

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        • I guess some of the question is, does an education system have to teach us about conflicting ideologies? Maybe it should. But a student who knows how to find differing thoughts – who has access to this information – and who knows how to grapple with it… this is a student who is doing pretty well.

          Maybe then the question is outside of the education system – for self-educating, for lifelong learning… engaging with ideas that are new, different, and challenging. That this is the process of lifelong learning.

          However, there are dangers and pitfalls for that future as well, such as in this Ted Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles We might potentially end up with online filters keeping us from finding new ideas, for finding challenging thoughts or different opinions. Information Literacy!

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        • If you’ll think back, one of the reasons I wanted to start these is because I was wondering if we we’re still making progress. And agreed about the ideologies – that’s a big part of this equation, and it’s certainly related to education, but it can also turn into a whole other quagmire. One of the reasons I’m having such a hard time figuring out how to approach early childhood (before school) education.

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  7. Reblogged this on Part Time Monster and commented:
    This week, the feminist Friday discussion is hosted on Comparative Geeks, and they’ve done a nice job of writing out a prompt that considers ideas of girls’ and women’s education. Please join us and lend your voice to the discussion…It’s a conversation worth having.

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  8. Perhaps more later: the purpose of education is often (and should be) to undo problematic social education. I’m not sure if George Lucas really understood how truthy Yoda’s statement is: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

    Fear of others who are different leads to considering them to be the Other in the Lacanian sense. The Other is not human, and therefore creating institutions that actively and passively seek to harm “the Other,” killing “the Other” in wars and on the streets, building empires on the backs of “the Other,” ignoring the needs of the Other–not just for self-actualization, but for specific medical help, let’s say–is fine, right?–because the Other isn’t human. Fear and ignorance are why even today a white man can get away with shooting a car full of Black teens; why systematic gatekeeping in STEM has messed up years of research and why women are left out of medical testing ; why girls are shot or kidnapped for trying to get an education; why people can flip out without consequences when queer folks exist.

    The purpose of an education–not necessarily a state-mandated one, because it’s not like primary or secondary schools in the US care at all about teaching boys not to rape or supporting queer staff and students or stopping the sexualization of female bodies with dress codes (all in the news and all personal experiences)–is to, in some ways, undo the ignorance, both in the sense of the ignorance of a child but also with the ignorance we are raised in in our institutions and communities. History education can teach us about life in the past but it must go beyond “well, we fixed it and it’s better now” when we haven’t. Science education can teach us how to improve the lives of others with medicine and to learn about our universe, but it has to go beyond fear of teaching things like evolution (see also my high school and bless my bio teacher forever for dealing with my classmates). Social studies education can teach us to treat others with respect while recognizing their different lived experiences, but it has to go beyond the shrill shrieking of the mass media writing about “wacky postwar Japan” and has to value the narratives of those who have not been able to speak because they were shut out by institutions. Health education can teach us how to care for ourselves but has to go beyond fear of sexual agency and sexual difference.

    I think Jenny M said it more concisely, but eradicating the fear and ignorance that literally kills people as well as teaching people life skills (to be able to self-actualize and make decisions but also to work for a better society) should be the purpose.

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  9. Thanks for this thought provoking piece.

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  10. Reblogged this on Natacha Guyot and commented:
    This week’s Feminist Friday Discussion is hosted by Comp Geeks. Topic is the purpose of education. It lays great ground work and conversation for future discussions about specific stages and types of education.

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  11. I agree with Natacha and Diana. I have a hard time identifying a singular purpose for education. It can and should (and sometimes does) encompass most of the choices in your poll. The biggest things I see are basic literacy and having an education that gives a person options and empowers them to make choices for themselves rather than an education that serves the a set of objectives defined by a governing body (but obviously a public education system has to have defined goals as well, so there needs to be a way to meet these while allowing for individual needs. I know, pie in the sky.)

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    • I had to really narrow down how I talked about the topic – because really, it could have gone on forever. In many ways, the polls are my continuing thoughts, each of the terms something that we see in education, maybe thought provoking or annoying that it’s true but it’s there.

      And maybe that’s the problem: right now, our education system is kind of built to do all of these things, or at least is trying to do all of these things. But in the end, that’s so much, and so much to measure! We’re stuck boiling it all down to standardized tests, or just the simple fact of graduation.

      I left the poll open for multiple choices precisely because picking only one of these would be almost impossible!

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      • You could be right–but that raises so many other questions about picking which ones matter most, and who gets to pick, etc. I’ve only been able to come up with partial solutions in fictional worlds. I don’t know about the real one.

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        • Who gets to pick will definitely get you different answers. I suppose for the moment the answer is a bunch of bloggers 😉

          Approaching important questions with fiction, though! That’s my sort of approach!

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  12. This encompasses learning how to learn, learning basic skills, citizenship, etc., but I feel like the purpose of education should be to make advancement possible. To create benefit for oneself and one’s community. That’s a reason for the government to provide it — we need educated workers and citizens — and also a reason for it to not be too regimented. Variation and individual customization is really necessary to get benefit from it, otherwise we end up with a more “get people through the system” approach that does most people a disservice.

    I feel like there should be a mix, with some “everyone needs to know this basic math” and “everyone needs to know how a person buys an apartment” or whatever, combined with a lot of individualized learning at the higher levels so that it actually gains some significance and interest and people can actually develop skills. There’s definitely a feeling among young people that they’re busting their buts for 22+ years just to get a piece of paper that lets them get a job, that all that work has no real-life application or relation to the end goal, and that the effort it takes is not commensurate with the reward (especially since a college degree isn’t a guarantee of a job anymore, if it ever was).

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    • I think your point about variability is important – because that’s something that we maybe don’t do so well. The European system, with different tracks, allows for some variability – but in other ways is strict and regimented. The American system, with things like schools-within-a-school, can create some problems even as it solves some. And often, these sorts of programs are championed and led by specific people – and if that group of teachers falls apart, then the program ends. This happened with the project-based-learning program Holly was in in high school.

      The disconnect of education from the workforce, from actually connecting to your future – this is a problem. Not that we should build the education solely to get people jobs, but… Like I said, I graduated from IB. I would like to think that would help me get a job. Not in the slightest – employers don’t care. Well, okay, it helped me get into college. Theoretically. So that should help me then, right? Say something about me? Oh wait, it was a history degree. That doesn’t directly relate to any jobs – it’s basically for teachers, who need more school.

      Then I get into jobs, and the things I have learned how to do matter, and I excel. But there’s no way for an employer to know that. So here I am, with a master’s, doing a part-time, non-professional job hoping that a job will someday consider it the work experience they want me to have – the catch-22 of needing work experience to get the job to get the experience.

      I feel like I was not adequately prepared for the workforce at all in school, or maybe better that NO ONE was – that it was wholly disconnected. And if it is, then education needs to serve some OTHER purpose that matters in my life right now, right?

      So, can I answer the question as to what that is? Because all my geeky loves came not from anywhere within the education system – it’s from my parents.

      Sorry, whoa, rant. I’m a little annoyed with the whole job thing in general right now – comes with being under-employed.

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      • Well, I’m getting a history degree right now, soooo yeah, I feel your pain.

        Specialized education can certainly have positives and negatives. It would be very problematic if a student had to declare a specialization at say the beginning of high school, because then they’re locked in. If they change their minds after three years, they either can’t do something else or will have to spend an extra three years in school from the beginning of another track. I’m thinking if the purpose is to learn how to learn, there would be a lot more free reign in terms of topic choice. So, there’s variation without being locked in to a program.

        One of my college advisers has really emphasized learning skill sets rather than completing curricula in subjects, and tries to help his students do that purposefully and leverage those skill sets on resumes, etc. I like that approach. For instance, my history degree – super awesome for research, writing reports, checking materials for publication, data entry, locating digital information, assessing reliability…

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        • All good skills for a librarian, actually… yet another field where more education is needed, though. But that’s where I’ve gotten to 🙂

          I was originally planning on a PhD. However, I could never narrow down on a single focus, to figure out who to study with/where to study. Librarian fits far better.

          I suppose that lack of focus might show a bit on the blog! That, or history of things geek would be my area of study…

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          • I’m graduating in December and then headed for a degree in public history/museum studies, which I chose because I wanted to, but since then I’ve been told it’s a better/more open career prospect than teaching, so yaysies.

            Ohhh yes, my blog is a big glorious geekohistorical mess as well. 🙂

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          • (Also I’ve worked in libraries since I was 13, so, yanno. Libraries are super awesome.)

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  13. Just getting in, perused the thread lightly, and trying to figure out where to start. Seems like we mentioned the whole purpose issue on an earlier thread but not in this kind of detail. I think it was a good idea to talk about “is” .vs “should be.” I’ve been trying to figure out where to start with education for a couple of weeks, and honestly, it’s a conceptual quagmire to me. But it is the next thing to talk about. Every time we’ve discussed an issue so far, we’ve run into education the minute the conversation turns to positive solutions.

    I like that discussion up-thread about education reinforcing privilege. That’s very important. I’ll have some responses once I read the thread more closely and think about it a bit.

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    • I think maybe we could break it down by thinking about purposes at different levels. Literacy in early years, and basic skills everyone should have. Then in later years, preparing people for the world. I know that in previous discussion we’ve talked a lot about issues like sex education, personal finances, things like that which will matter and apply to everyone’s life.

      You hear about things like colleges having to teach more and more remedial classes, to catch people up to where they can take freshman classes. In some ways, I guess it’s impressive that people are getting into college with needs like that. However, it’s a painful indictment of the education system.

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      • I think part of that problem is that we’ve adopted this attitude that everyone should just borrow that asinine amount of money and go to college. Vocational education has really atropied over the last 20 years, and really. No need to go to college if you’re happy being a welder or something like that. You can make good money welding, and if you like it, why go through the stress of the first two years of college. This is something else that isn’t being talked about enough, I think. It’s hard to get at without sounding elitist.

        I think you’re right about different purposes at different levels. But before we even get to that we have to find a way to talk about the fact that formal education is building on a foundation that starts at birth. Not all parents are responsible enough, or capable of, providing the foundation, and there are real differences of values at play there. How to talk about that without just being incendiary is my problem at the moment.

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        • There was an article recently that listed schools where attendance meant making less money than a person in the same state who didn’t attend college at all, and my school was one of the ones on the list. It was presented as “what a bad investment!” but the reason is that you can make crazy good money as a welder or whatever in Alabama, and everyone at my school is studying humanities and theater and stuff.

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          • Two things:

            1. That’s interesting; and
            2. Some people are meant for the humanities, no doubt, but before they’re allowed to embark on that journey, someone needs to sit them down and explain just how hard it is it break in and make it to the big stage.

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          • Yep. I’ve always been terribly aware how difficult it is and also terribly aware I’d hate/suck at anything else.

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        • Part of it is that the parents need to understand and value education, to put that into use in the early years. So at some point, it has to happen institutionally – to get to the kids whose parents don’t have that value. And then, the kids’ kids might get a good early education.

          I’m realizing, I have seen no mention yet of the Imagination Library. It’s making serious inroads in our state, and there are people trying to focus on 100% coverage for the state. It’s a strong start.

          Oh, and it’s been said other places, and not only by me. LIBRARIES. So important.

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          • I agree about the importance of libraries. They’re the best way make sure people with modest incomes have the opportunity to really read. Libraries have certainly left their mark on my life.

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  14. There’s a reason why slaves in the U.S. were not allowed to learn to read. Learning and reading = empowerment. This is true whether you live in the Western world or in a rural African village. Too many people in certain societies and cultures (including some in the West) are threatened by girls/women learning. There is still a sizable population that thinks women have no place outside the home.

    The disparities in schools, the re-segregation in schools is not only is it a feminist issue, it’s largely a race and class issue. I almost wrote about that this week after a conversation with my son. I experienced this first hand going to an inner city middle and high school that suffered because of the socio-economic status of the neighborhood and the students. (I didn’t write it yet because I didn’t want to step on the toes of this discussion possibly).

    I think this was a wonderful, thoughtful way to start off the education discussion. I haven’t watched Girl Rising yet, I have been wanting to watch it with my two older kids. I think I may have to make that part of our weekend plans. I agree with Diana that the most crucial thing is literacy. Education should offer choices. Knowledge and literacy open up a world of options that would not otherwise be viable. I think the problems are universal in that lack of literacy equals disadvantage and/or oppression. There are cases of that still in the U.S. and obviously more extreme and more frequent cases of that in other parts of the world.

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    • I experienced class first-hand myself recently, and had to check myself to keep myself from rushing home and going off about it on the blog before I had time to think about it and figure out how to talk about it like a mature adult (my grandson was involved). Class, as I see it, is something American culture is in denial about. We don’t want to talk about it openly, but we need to have a conversation about it at some point.

      And you’re right about the literacy and the sizeable population of people who think women belong in the home. One of the problems I’m having wading off into education is that education starts at home, and all these issues come into play when you look at a bad home situation and try to figure out how much the parents are to blame, and how much is caused by social problems that have existed for generations. This is a real problem.

      On the one hand, I don’t want to come across as saying we should just step on peoples’ rights in the service of some idealistic plan. On the other, I don’t want to let the government or the culture off the hook for failing to address problems that affect peoples’ lives before they’re even old enough to understand what’s going on.

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  15. Reblogged this on Confessions of a Geek Queen and commented:
    Geek feminists discuss female literacy worldwide – an excellent topic!

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  16. So one thing I would like to mention now is the poll and where the voting has gone so far. For the question of what the purpose of education is now – we have every option selected. The leading topic is depressing and what I expected: “Moving People Through a System.” It just seems like right now, education has momentum and we just keep doing it. We know it’s too important to let it fail completely, so it’s left to limp along.

    The results are quite a bit more refined on the purpose end. There are several options which have not been selected at all – “Moving People Through a System,” “Learning the Curriculum,” “Learning the ‘Facts,'” and the old historical favorite, “Cultural Assimilation.” And our leaders are pretty good ones: “Learning How to Learn,” “Creating Functioning Members of Society,” and “Literacy.”

    I feel like these have been major topics in the discussions, as well. Good starting places for future discussion, I think. You could write whole posts on each of these, I think. And I might just, at some point.

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  17. My long and link-filled comment is stuck in moderation, but I loved reading all the ideas here!

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  22. Just read an opinion that fits with this conversation…

    Q. What policies can combat inequality?

    A. In the long run, the best policies we have involve investing in our citizenry. … Higher education, and public education, is America’s best idea. Our decision to send our entire public through high school over the first 30 years of the 20th century was probably the single most important factor in U.S. economic predominance for that century. Those investments [include] preschool, good primary and secondary schools, [and] adequate nutrition and health care.

    http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/qa-david-autor-inequality-among-99-percent-0522

    Like

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