Education of Youth
All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.
I really love the above quote by Aristotle because I believe it contains so much truth. And because it was written over 2,300 years ago, you would think we would have come to truly understand and abide by the wisdom.
Your first reaction might be that the general population is far better educated today than at any time in history. But I would ask that you consider what the term "education of youth" means. Are we educating our youth or simply filling them with information? Has our education system become an information system?
How would you measure a good or adequate education?
All you need to do is look at our societal problems to understand that we are doing a rather poor job of educating our youth. In America, the divorce rate is now about 50% for first marriages, for second and third marriages the rate is even higher. We have the highest per capita incarceration rate of any country in the world.
Daniel Goleman, in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More Than IQ, pointed out that IQ only accounts for 20% of a person's success in life. Social intelligence and emotional intelligence are the major determinants of the level of success we achieve in life. Yet as a society we seem to do a very poor job of providing the youth the emotional and social education they need.
It is not the sole responsibility of our education system to educate our youth. The parents and caregivers of the children have a duty to properly educate our youth. They can and should be good role models for the children under their care. But if they are not properly educated, how can they educate their children?
Which brings me to my point, what is the single most important lesson you can teach our youth? It is simply this. For every action you take or fail to take, there is a consequence. Many actions have delayed consequences. The further and better you can look down the road and understand the consequences, the better choices you will be able to make. And the choices we make determine the quality of our lives.
We often look at the immediate benefit and fail to look at the delayed consequences of our actions. It is easy to see the instant gratification from taking certain actions. We often fail to even consider the possible downside of our actions. We think we are immune to the universal law of cause and effect.
If we could get our youth to understand the high cost of enjoying instant gratification and not being concerned about the delayed consequences, we would be well on our way to educating our youth and thereby strengthening our future.
If we don't, our society will continue building up a huge social debt. We are seeing the cost of this debt every day. If we don't correct the problem, the deficit will only grow and will eventually bankrupt society.
For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.