I love teaching and have for over two decades. In fact, while I was still in college, Louie Palmer, a professor of mine, hired me as a teaching assistant during my senior year. That single event was the most transformative happening during my college years. I will never quit teaching whether it is to college students or my two young grandsons, Jack and Owen, who are 6 and 4.
At the beginning of each semester, I tell my classes that there are two grades that they will get due to taking the class. The first grade is the one that I will send to the registrar. That grade will have almost no affect upon them next semester or during their entire lives. None.
The other grade that my students will get is one that society will give them based upon their learning how to think. None of my students even considered another grade for taking the class. Regardless, that grade is absolutely essential if they want to be successful in life.
In addition, my classes watch either Finding Forrester or The Empire's Club. Then they are required to write an essay about their personal observations of the film that they watched. I intentionally make that assignment opened-ended. They have to decide what is important for them personally as it relates to either film. The range of issues that both films cover is racism, sexism, poverty, plagiarism, etc.
Additionally, both movies address education. After the classes submit their essays, I tell them that, if they are a minority, a female, or both, they you are at bat with at least one or more strikes against them. If they are a minority female, they are, in the game of life, with two strikes against them before even the first pitch is thrown. Then I give them a suggestion of how to become equal with men. Women and/or minorities will achieve equality with men by being better educated than white males in the game of life.
I know of no other way to achieve equality with males other than through education. Get your degree, but don't stop. Continue. That advice is from a white male who is more liberal on social issues than any person they know. Equality isn't given out to females or minorities. They must demand it. They must prove themselves to be better than white males. Hey, it ain't fair, but it's the way that the game of life has been played for over 200,000 years.
Aside from equality, education enables all student to learn. There is a big difference being able to learn and not merely repeating material told to them by someone in the past. Recently, in one of my classes, we were discussing Jainism, which is a religion that developed in India dating back more than 2500 years. Jainism developed as a response to theological questions that they had with Hinduism.
One of the central beliefs of Jains is ahimsa, which is the theological prohibition of harming anything. Therefore, Jains, especially the monks, will wear masks to avoid harming even a gnat. At one level, that is quite a high degree of dedication to a religious belief.
However, I raised the issue of sexism as it relates to Jainism and ahimsa. Women can't be monks and are not held with any respect among the monks. If monks don't want to hurt a gnat, what about their treatment of women?
If Jain women in particular and women in general want equality with men, all women must stand up to sexism. Sexism goes back 2.5 millennia to the beginning of humans. Now, the issue of Jains and sexism is a presenting problem. Jain monks have repeated ahimsa for over two millennia, which doesn't make it correct as it affects women. Unless they think rather than merely repeating things told to them, they will continue sexism.
The illustration of Jainism is merely a presenting problem. Education is vital to all forms of equality. We must get beyond merely repeating something; we need to think. Therefore, education is critical.
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