First of all, let me correct my stance in previous blog about “science, technology and competition leading no where”. As a liberal art student, I admit I do have some of my bias. We do enjoy the benefits of innovation and breath through of science and technology that brought us all the convenience and greater output to the society. My point is if those greater output is wasted in the war or pollution and lead to moral degradation, then they are of no value.
Couple of days ago, I saw a piece of new that State of Washington had just adopted Initiative 1000 – a measure that overturns the state’s 20-year-old, voter-approved ban on affirmative action. However, there is also a large group strongly oppose the measure, request to have a public vote on the initiative. As someone who had benefited from the financial aid in my education, I am all in with the spirit of the progressive move. However, an article from Paul Craig Roberts’ blog, give me a second thought on the issue.
Insights from the Cast-Iron Shore, is a memoir from Francis Oakley, who is a friend and former colleague of Paul. Oakley was dean of the faculty and then president of Williams College 1977-1994. In review of Oakley’s education reform experience, Paul drew some good lesson learned: One way of looking at Oakley’s memoir is that he presided over the period successfully with aplomb. Another way of reading his memoir is as a chronicle of how an idealistic commitment to the underdog and to multiculturalism destroyed American education… The unexamined assumption was that racial, ethnic, and gender diversity was the desirable goal. Comprehensive exams were abandoned…Today we decline under the weight of diversity. Those reforms had turned Williams College’s focus from education to social engineering…bought plague upon American higher education.
Craig’s sentiment resonates with many others’ similar anxiety about the entitlements benefits and huge burden of social security payments American government are giving out, which are among the factors that driving the national debt higher and higher, overwhelmingly tower over our already over-stretch budgets. Thus, it is sensible that when we are making all these reforms and adjustments in our system, we do not want to inadvertently create other forms of prejudice. In our pursuing of American Dream, our goal is to establish a system of fair opportunities rather than warrant entitlements, a society that judge people by their character and talents rather than by gender or skin color.
The article went further to say that “the underdogs of Oakley’s generation who were encouraged and supported with scholarships to rise on their merit did not turn on the society that gave them a chance. In contrast, in America the blacks and women who rose on quotas rather than merit turned fiercely on the society that opened to them. There is no doubt that white males have paid the price for the New Society that is open to all but them.” There is no dispute that we all observed many ironic instances that people drew on the society’s support turned out taking it for granted, they eventually assume their status as elite, looking down upon the society that had helped them onto the fast-track.
How can we cultivate that sense of social responsibility with our future generation? Some how we need to integrate that part of ritual into the education. For example, the teachings of Confucius, to my humble opinion, lends many good insights to this situation. He focused on two interrelated areas: Social Teachings, which deal with the proper behavior of the individual in society and to his fellow men, and Political Teachings, which deal with the art of governance and the proper relationship of the Ruler to the ruled. He viewed education as central to achieving proper conduct both within Society and in Government. I can not speak of the Political teaching part, but I definitely feel the social teaching of achieving proper self-mastery by adherence to correct ritual is key for the students to instill a view of social responsibility. This tradition had severed well in the coherent of the Chinese society throughout the history.
Chinese traditional education had always emphasize the importance of children’s early education One of very famous Chinese historical study professor and Buddhist educator Mr. Nan Huai Jin( 南怀瑾 ), strongly advocate children on recital of Confucius classical text in early education. The recital of those classical text not only provide intellectual stimulation, more important, they plant the seed of wisdom and proper social conduct in the child’s mind.
Once student had solid elementary and secondary education, it paves the way for life long self-education. Student loan is posting more and more burden to society and individuals. How to cut down the higher education is definitely another topic for public discussion. Maybe one of the way to reduce the cost would be integrating some of the on-line learning and self-pace study into curriculum?
Middle way, is a Buddhist philosophy of profound wisdom, in its simplest definition means not goes to extreme. For our situation, maybe we can come up with some moderate balanced approach to apply to our education system reform, or any other changes. Just my two cents for share.