On Our Failure to Educate

Take every tragedy, every error in judgment, every injustice in the history of humanity and you still would not remotely approach the magnitude of our historical and ongoing failure to educate every single human being to his or her full potential. Entire swathes of the global population are, for a combination of social, economic, or gender-based reasons, simply disenfranchised from this most fundamental human right: the right to know. This is nothing less than a crime against humanity. Many reasons are offered for this failure: a shortage of trained teachers; the challenges inherent in providing a quality education to every sector of the population; or the perennial issue of money. Occasionally it is even whispered that the common folk themselves are to blame, that they are stubborn, lazy, inherently “unteachable.” But none of these justifications are convincing. They serve merely as excuses to salve the sore consciences of a lazy, unjust people. The proof is simply stated: our species daily accomplishes feats of science, imagination, business acumen, and general intellectual and organizational power that are far more difficult than providing enough one-room schoolhouses and minimally competent teachers for all young people. So the reason that hundreds of millions of children go to bed every night knowing no more than they did that morning (a fact that, given the political, socioeconomic and environmental challenges we are now facing, should fill every rational human being with terror) must be sought elsewhere. But one need not look far; the answer lies right in our own hearts. We just don’t care enough.