Education is long-term benefit, not short-term solution

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Nick Butler
  • 95th Mission Support Group
I grew up in the Reagan Era -- when "Transformers" was a cartoon and striped socks were in fashion. Sure, I'm still relatively young compared to most of the Air Force, but I think that's exactly why I can offer a different perspective on education.

Quite simply, we're no longer in a world where isolationism is an option economically or politically -- both of which are concepts derived from education either at home or in the classroom. Few problems remain local. From diseases and stock prices to "civil" wars and natural disasters, we are living in the pubescent years of a globally-conscious society. We are a generation mired in terrorism, global warming, cancer, HIV/AIDS and overpopulation just to name a few of our problems. Yet, we are also interconnected in unprecedented ways. We have all of the tools to effectively communicate and solve problems, but seemingly none of the motivation or patience necessary to incite change.

Sound familiar? As a generation, we're analogous to a bunch of lazy teenagers. I'll be the first to admit it. We've been educated on algebraic equations, state capitals and the proper spelling of pterodactyl, but we've rarely been challenged to critically solve problems and adapt to situations in our classrooms and homes. There are always exceptions, but for the majority of today's youth, allowances are given, classes are attended, grades are assigned, and life starts punching you in the face before you even realize you're in the ring. Our education system has placed the future of our society in the hands of people who follow checklists and adhere to procedures. We're only prepared to answer the expected -- not to anticipate or adapt to the harshness of reality.

Consequently, we're forced to constantly react, forgetting that the greatest inventions and discoveries were born in the minds of the curious and not the needy -- someone flying a kite with a key attached in a thunderstorm or puzzling over why an apple falls to earth. Our challenge in solving the world's problems lays not in confronting them head-on, but in educating those who follow on how to apply what we've learned instead of repeating it. Education is not a short-term solution; it's a long-term benefit.