The Value of an Education That Never Ends

Jeb Bush details importance of education

Sep. 14—MIDLAND — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush stressed the importance of education to a crowd of about 150 community and business leaders, elected officials and educators during a dinner Wednesday in Midland.

Bush, who was born in Midland, has a commitment to education in his DNA. From his mother, the late former First Lady Barbara Bush, the love of reading was instilled in him and in the country during her husband, George H.W. Bush’s presidency.

Jeb Bush now lives in Miami and heads the Excellence in Education foundation, which is a nonprofit working to transform education and to create opportunity and lifelong success for children.

The Permian Strategic Partnership sponsored the event and former Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, also PSP’s chief, led the fireside chat with Bush.

He championed literacy telling the crowd that it is critical children know how to read by the end of third grade and said as a country “we are way behind…it is the great social challenge of our time.”

He said people must be able to think critically and understand math and reading. He said parents should be marching in the streets about the state of education in this country while also stressing the many strides made across the country.

“So many are not getting a good education and no one is marching in the streets about this. Typically those being left behind are low income…the drain on our society is tragic beyond belief. It happens quickly and we excuse it away but we shouldn’t.”

He added a purposeful life for all should be our mission as a country but that policy should be implemented at the state and local level.

He praised the many leaders in oil and gas industry in attendance for both their work in the industry and for their philanthropic efforts to help education in the area.

The essential importance of education to our country

To take advantage of this, we must start to understand that education takes many forms.

Of course, there is still a place for the classroom with the teacher at the front, informing students and asking questions.

After all, this is the format that has endured for hundreds of years, and I don’t think that the concept will be going anywhere anytime soon.

Primary and secondary schools will remain the bedrocks of our national educational system.

But after school, education has to take on a slightly different form. When we leave school we start to ask important questions such as – what is it I want to achieve for the rest of my life? And what areas do I think I can make a positive contribution in?

I am pleased that these days there are options beyond a university course – with college, apprenticeships, and on-the-job qualifications all supported routes to gain credentials.

This diversity of routes is important, as everybody has different ways of learning – and some things that need to be taught are better done in different environments.

Theoretical topics and concepts are often best discussed in a lecture or seminar, but the learning of physical techniques and processes requires hands-on experience.

This includes in advanced studies such as engineering and medicine.

The development of a nation is tied to the development of education. This makes sense if you think about it. Education means that tasks can be completed more efficiently, that knowledge can be transferred more effectively, and that creativity can be explored more successfully.

For more than 15 years I have presided over my university’s Arrival Day, the time when families drop off their sons and daughters about to start their college career. Every year some parents will take me aside to say they wish they were starting college, and that they’d get a lot more out of the experience now because they’ve become better learners.

One mother laughingly called herself a “perpetual student.” She meant she pursued learning for the sheer joy of inquiry. But the term is usually one of gentle derision: someone who keeps taking more courses as a way to avoid holding down a job. In other words, a slacker, or a loser. I think that’s wrong. We should begin to see this sort of lifelong learning as a way for individuals to gain not just knowledge, but liberation. In its ideal form, being a perpetual student is not an act of avoidance but rather a path to perpetual self-determination and freedom.

The ideas of “freedom” and “student” were not always linked together. In pre-modern Europe, schools were few and far between, but there was learning nonetheless — learning that aimed at economic independence and integration with a community. Universities were founded in the medieval period, and as literacy became more culturally and economically advantageous, especially after the Protestant Reformation, basic schooling became more common.

For the 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant, the student in pursuit of enlightenment was someone in the process of leaving behind “self-imposed immaturity” and learning to think for oneself. Some people, however, were said to exist outside the realm of learning altogether — at least the kind of learning meant to allow one to stand on one’s own feet. With intellectual contortions fueled by racism and economic self-interest, many supposedly enlightened Enlightenment thinkers and writers argued that enslaved people could not be students, that they did not have the potential to be free. States passed laws forbidding the education of enslaved people. Learning became an act of resistance.

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