Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Birthday

Every year I treasure March 14th for it being Pi day, and for it being Einstein's birthday. Einstein is one of my personal heroes for his skill in all realms (political, physical, philosophical) but there is one place I am always disappointed that he did not, or could not, spend more time: education reform. As a High School drop-out and a Graduate student he had a good view of the entire educational system, and he found it quite lacking:

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."

Yet he remained entirely optimistic about the possibilities of education throughout his life:

1931: "Science has therefore been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death."

1949: "I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals."

1951: "I believe, indeed, that overemphasis on the purely intellectual attitude, often directed solely to the practical and factual, in our education, has led directly to the impairment of ethical values."

I think the balance of cynicism and optimism he held education in is necessary for education to become valid for all people and to move forward with its possibilities and goals. Education is fucked up right now. It is not education, it is jumping through hoops like dolphins.

I hope that the next generation or the one after that has an educational system that looks back to the example set by Einstein, by Kant, and by Picasso, rather than being forced to go through the same educational system we have today.

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