The creation of an Educated Citizen

This came up on my Facebook stream. Of course, I remembered the speech from a long time ago, I read it rather than watched it. Watching it reminds me, that sometimes, historical speeches need to be listened to. As a history and political junky, I do at times search YouTube for speeches from political figures that hold an understanding of the world that they live in. This speech today somehow moved me as it linked to a discussion I have been having in the world of academics and with those who care for Higher Education.

JFK’s speech, showing up in my feed, caught my interest because it was about education. As I listened to it. I realized that this is the same argument we are having today about the very nature and need for education. Even more so with the Trump’s administration attempt to rob education, and thereby robbing the future of democracy in which a citizen can fully participate not as a spectator but as a participant.

He states in his speech, “…only an educated and informed people will be a free people; that the ignorance of one vote in a democracy impairs the security of all…” Isn’t that’s what happening today? It’s clear that because we live in a 24-hour news cycle, fake news serving red meat along side of biased news, we push of critical thinking skills away because it’s on the internet..

We rush out and we grab on what makes us “feel” something, rage, anger, hate, and passion. What happens when the news cycle changes? We don’t get to take the time we need to be informed citizens. I don’t think that JFK is saying that everyone needs to be college educated or even “formally” educated, I believe what he is saying is that we need to be diligent, use our ability to think and inform ourselves about our world.

We as good citizens should pursue activities that will allow ourselves to learn about the world we live in, add to our knowledge base and to be able to look at all points of view in order to make an informed decision which is best for our government and our world.

As educators, we need to really understand this. We are not just educating learners on a particular subject, we are creating educated citizens, who can contribute to democracy, not just our niche.  Education should include things like Critical Thinking, independent exploration of ideas and thoughts, and a good understanding how our political system works. This doesn’t have to be party or ideology specific, good critical thinking skills should be used no matter what the ideology is.

Yes, it’s hard and sometimes difficult to create assignments in your field that can help challenge, create discussion, and provoke thought, but doing so will help and encourage participation. JFK in the speech talks about service to our country, what better service can an educator have than to provide tools to all citizen learners so they can make informed and educated choices to make our country strong.

“…the educated citizen has a special obligation to encourage the pursuit of learning, to promote exploration of the unknown, to preserve the freedom of inquiry and to assist at every level of government…”

Isn’t that what an educators mission is? Just asking….

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