On Education: Reaching for the Stars
Stepping Stones Museum, Norwalk, Connecticut
Reaching for the Stars
Perhaps the noblest goal for anyone to pursue is simply to attain an education.
Few may argue with that simple statement, but, perhaps, few would see the goal in the same light.
My dictionary refers to "the knowledge and development resulting from an educational process" and stresses training and formal instruction.
But, in my view, education is merely the acquisition of knowledge that enables one to think efficaciously.
While the mysteries of life continue to elude the mind of man it is that very mind that separates man from the other creatures on Earth. Man achieves his greatness in his ability to conceive ideas and to contemplate what lies not only within but without.
Pursuit of a Goal
Among men it is the pursuit of a goal that elicits the deepest and most cherished meaning; It is the day-to-day struggle of life -- trying to do one's best on the job, getting along with others and attempting to trim one's golf score -- that makes pursuit of happiness a worthwhile adventure.
Often, in fact, achievement of a long-sought-after goal results, somewhat surprisingly, in a let-down rather than jubilation.
Exercising the Mind
I find nothing more thrilling than observing an intelligent person using his God-given brain power the way I think it was designed to be used; a person who is good at what he does, who stretches the limits of his ability by persistence, hard work and the exercise of the mind.
All of us are constrained by mere physical and financial necessity to achieve some salable level of training that will provide food, lodging and employment. But, beyond that, the restraints are removed; we can reach for the stars.
Achieving Intellectual Freedom
Too many of us, I think, are permitting the brilliant potential of man's mind to be dimmed by the demands of today's competitive marketplace. We fight hard to achieve financial independence, to have the things we need to fulfill our creature comforts, but, it seems, we make little effort toward achieving intellectual freedom.
Our society does little to encourage original thinking; it puts a premium on following not on leading; on job training, not on education; on actions that do not make waves, not on boldly striking out toward new achievement that could benefit all.
Changing Society's Direction
But, as thinking people, we can change the direction our society has embarked upon. We can insist that new generations be instilled with an appreciation of learning beyond the sophomoric. We can insist that we be allowed to be all we can be. All of us.
Why not visit a library, or museum, today?
Or, perhaps, examine the stars.
I wrote this column as an "Editor's Notebook" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Sept. 19,1987.