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Evolving a culture of learning

The biggest challenge EducationF1rst faces is one of momentum: America is not, and never has been, an intellectual culture. We do not, however much we might protest, live in a nation that treasures teaching and learning. On the list of things that we care about, education falls well to the south of things like entertainment and sports. Worse, in Instant GratificatioNation there is little tolerance for long-term solutions. We want it, we want it now, and if you don’t give it to us you will pay.

On the learning front, America is an object at rest, and objects at rest tend to remain that way until acted on by some force. The good news is that if we’re able to set our society in motion, that momentum then becomes something we can leverage in our long drive toward a sustainable culture of education.

While EdF1rst will generate results within the scope of my first term, the full impact of our efforts won’t be seen for perhaps a generation. Does this doom the project? Are Americans incapable of voting for the future of their children? Maybe, but the stakes are too high for us not to try. We must be willing to play to the historians, not the pundits.

Over time, we must transform America into a genuine culture of learning. Families must believe, as mine did, that education is their best hope for a sustainable future, and they must be willing to act forcefully and meaningfully on this conviction. Children must grow up in homes where commitment to education is an assumption that’s embedded in the very DNA of family and community life. In neighborhoods where teachers are revered. In classrooms that are safe and nurturing. In a nation that values you for what you know, what you can do, how you can contribute.

In order for this to happen, we need a multi-pronged strategy that address both reality and perception.

We must never lose sight of the fact that as society evolves, so also must our educational programs. We will never stop revising, growing and improving, and we will never stop asking our citizens to help us understand how this might best be accomplished.



1. jeff - April 6, 2007

Good post.



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4. zhou - October 14, 2007

Agree very much with you on the need to evovle a culure of learning. As you point out that this is a cultural change as well as a social change. People must change their attitudes and society must value learning collectively which is not the case at all now. Learning is treated as a way to make a living rather than a fundamental part of living and being human.

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