Thursday, February 18, 2010

Greg Mortenson

Last week I listened to Greg Mortenson speak at Bend High School along with a thousand or so other people from Bend. Mortenson won me over with his humble countenance. He surprised me with his relationship with the US military and thereby his insight of military realities in the Middle East shared with a crowd largely cool to the military culture. Of course I was impressed with Mortenson's fearless pursuit to bring schools to Afghanistan and Pakistan, a story I am familiar with, having read Three Cups of Tea. Mortenson's emphasis on education as the answer to the Middle East and the world's difficulties raises a question for me: What kind of education? Are we talking about a liberal arts education? A technological education? Education is indeed necessary and no doubt is a noble pursuit - but what kind of education changes people and the world for the better? There have been plenty of educated civilizations and nation-states that have perpetuated grave crimes against humanity. The information and direction of the education matters. Smarter people do not change the world for the better, kind people change the world for the better. Does education make people more kind? Not unless teaching of kindness, modeling of kindness is an inseparable piece of the curriculum and educators.

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