When I was young, I had no choice but to prematurely end my own schooling at age 11 because my family did not have the money needed to pay for my further education. I nearly had the opportunity to go on to college, but instead went to work in my father’s business, making candles and soap. That work was pure drudgery, so I ultimately left and went to work for my brother’s newspaper. All the while, of course, I found ways to continue my education by reading every book I could get my hands on.
Today, it seems, reading is either totally out of vogue, or it’s been transformed into a totally new mode of digital data gathering, depending on one’s point of view. I’m told there are people, such as the current occupant of the White House, who are not able to read beyond the level of third or fourth grade. Others are content to do all their reading on this newfangled invention you folks call the “internet,” scrolling through pages of trivia, fake news, celebrity gossip, half-truths, and pure propaganda on their smart phones, tablets, and computers. (Happily, I can also report that there is a third category of book lovers, who frequent places like the Bedlam Book Cafe in Worcester, MA, to further their learning in the same manner as I did).
Getting back to the issue of modern internet readers, however.... In my humble opinion, if you really had “smart phones,” I would think that you’d be smart enough to tell the difference between true, helpful, and valuable messages and those that are quite obviously dishonest, deceptive, misleading and nefarious misinformation.
But I digress. At a ripe old age of 300+ years, I suppose I have the right to meander a bit in my conversation. The point I was mightily endeavoring to make was that somehow education has become an evil, undesirable thing in the 21st century.
When did it become fashionable to malign and besmirch those who possess even a small degree of proper education – or, worse yet, to deny the privilege of receiving a good schooling to those considered “inferior,” lower-class, differently-abled, of foreign birth, the wrong gender, etc?
It would seem that a few more genuinely and honestly well-read individuals in our leadership ranks could help turn around the current situation of deplorable division and degradation that presently afflicts our nation. But that’s simply one Founding Father’s belief – as you future folks are fond of saying, “take it or leave it.”
I would like to remind you however, dear reader, that in my day I did attempt to address the problem of educational inequity. Not only did I establish institutions of higher learning (one of which later became the University of Pennsylvania), I also wrote into my will the provision that a large amount of money be put into a trust fund and left untouched for 200 years, after which it would become available for educational purposes, particularly academic scholarships for disadvantaged youth!
It might be nice for some of today’s well-heeled business owners, government leaders, and other philanthropic organizations to follow in my footsteps and do likewise, today.
Your humble servant,
Photo credit: Background image - Bedlam Book Cafe, Worcester MA / Discover Central MA
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