March 22, 2017 – The Sign of True Education

“What is it then to be properly educated? It is learning to apply our natural preconceptions to the right things according to Nature, and beyond that to separate the things that lie within our power from those that don’t.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 1.22.9-10a

My friend Brian Niece recently invited me to be a guest on his podcast called Reimagining. The subject of the podcast was friendship. Brian and I met while he was co-pastor at the church my wife attended, and have since become very close. We share a love for critical thinking, and in spite of our differing positions on the existence of, or access to, a deity, we have more in common than not. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Humanities while I pursue my masters in philosophy.

I share this brief bit of history to put in context how much we both value education but with a rub. As we discussed how thinkers like Aristotle and Confucius defined friendship the conversation settled into how relationships can be lost because of differing opinions and beliefs. How we cease to see the other as someone who holds convictions as passionately as we do. At times the arrogance of being educated, or well read, deceives one into thinking that is the pinnacle of being educated. It’s not. The pinnacle of being educated centers around the knowledge, but also knowing how to use it so you don’t lose friends in the process.

Approaching this meditation from the position that humans are social animals, that relationships are the foundation of how we come to know the world and ourselves, it is inconsistent to call one’s self “properly educated” if the education does not entail an acceptance that it’s only as good as how it can be shared. We must be aware or relationships afford us access to others so that we can share what we know, and in turn learn from what they know.

Our power is in having the right perspective. We must be aware that the other also has that power. It is equally true that as we learn, so do they. We cannot force it on someone, but we can ensure, through friendship, a consistent access.

Do Not Waste the Opportunity: Boxtops

Boxtops4Education is an easy way to help your local schools. This effort serves to allow schools to obtain resources through basic consumer purchases. It may not be a component of your decision as you go to and from the local grocer or other establishment but if deciding between two items why not purchase the one that can give beyond the purchase itself?

And what if you are already buying items with boxtops: why would you throw them away?

I would like to offer my services to you. If you live in the Jacksonville area I will pick them up. Simply cut them off the product package and store them in a convenient place. Monthly or bi-monthly I will swing buy and take them off your hands.

Live out of state? Mail them to me once a month and I will refund your postage?

It might require a small behavioral change being that packages will need to be inspected prior to tossing them (and they are going in the recycle bin if appropriate, right?) but once you become accustomed to it  you will do it without thinking.

Contact me with any questions and pass along this offer. It is such an easy way to improve the life of children and hopefully play a role in building a better educational system.