Germs, atoms, the shape of the world and geocentrism — while these topics seem to lack a common element, they have an enormous connection that applies to the American education system today.
At one point in history, man’s understanding of each of these was thought to be fact, later to be proven wrong. In Europe in the 1500’s, disease was thought to be spread through divine intervention or supernatural occurrences, the atom was at one point thought to be the smallest particle of matter, the earth was thought to be flat instead of spherical and the universe was thought to revolve around the earth.
All of these theories were more than the mere ideas of a few; they were absolute and irrevocably factual. It wasn’t until people began to question the existing system of learning that our species was able to progress to a new level of understanding. To look behind the curtain and see the wizard for what he truly was.
In today’s society, we have furthered our understanding of the world, the universe and its content, but there simply is no way to ever know everything.
Therefore, as we enter a new school year, I challenge people to question what we are being taught. Just as those before us were taught the earth was flat, or that the universe revolved around us, could we not also be wrong about many of the things we are being taught at this or any other institution?
No matter who is teaching you, the information presented — and perhaps more importantly the information that is not being presented — changes the tone of any lecture to the will of the one who teaches. This may be intentional or unintentional, but either way it creates a bias that needs to be noted before taking the statement simply at face value.
The concept of history being written by the victor can show us the dangers of accepting bias. For example, victory for Germany in World War II would most likely have been seen as good triumphing over evil, just as most people see the results of the war as they already exist. By taking this into account, we will be able to begin to understand other cultures, and perhaps our own in a better way. It is not until we begin to question what we are learning that we can begin our new stage in understanding.
Until the present, those being taught were expected to respect the tutelage of the elder generation. They were expected to continue on in the footsteps of their fathers and mothers before them.
However, we stand at the event horizon of change for the future of everyone. We are able to stand up for what we believe in and stop history from repeating itself. By standing up for our beliefs and opinions, we have the opportunity to fix problems that those before us are causing, will cause, or have already been caused.
This writer is by no means saying to throw away what you are being taught, there is validity in learning what the generations that came before us know. What is intended is that we, as students and heirs of this planet, should build upon that knowledge and recognize the bias and misinterpretations that come with any teaching.
By being open to change and the possibility of misinformation, we are able to better learn what can be used to change the path we are headed down.
As I have previously stated, we are at a crossroads. This generation has two paths that it can follow, either follow the path of the older generation, a road that will lead to more of the same way of thinking or we can forge a new path and set an example of true passion of truth, learning and forward thinking.
Following the current path leads to misrepresentation of the populous through corrupt government run by large corporations, figure headed by bureaucrats, and pockmarked by wars based on misunderstanding of other cultures. The alternative is to take a step in the right direction and strive towards new understanding and a new way of learning.
This author truly believes we can be the generation that creates true change in the world. By using the past as reference on what to avoid in the future and allowing the mistakes of the past to be used as a guide to a better future for the generations that come after our own.
Isaac Morley is a sophomore Business Administration and English Education double major. He enjoys long walks on the beach and contemplating universal truth. He can be followed on Twitter @Isaac_Morley — Letters and Feedback can be sent to email@example.com