Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Half the Sky" - A Study in the Value of Education

Here I am.  A lifelong teacher and again I have to learn the lesson I’ve known forever.  Legislation doesn’t work.  Force doesn’t work.  Fear doesn’t work.  What works is education.  “Give a man a fish and you feed him for for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  An adage that’s so true.   
In the sixth grade we saw a film on drug addiction and saw a picture of an addict who they said was an old addict.  They said he was in his twenties.  I don’t know what his drug of choice was, but he looked like so many miles of bad road, that I never wanted to run the risk of ever looking like him.  Drugs never had an appeal for me.  Other things did, but not drugs.  I had learned in sixth grade.
I remember when AIDS, full-blown AIDS was killing so many young men.   Then there was a huge program embarked upon that taught about unprotected gay sex in fliers, in billboards, in radio public-service announcements, and particularly in areas where gay men congregated and lived,  such as San Francisco, and other large metro areas.  Many people thought it was hilarious and worthless.  But a miracle took place.  The death rate due to AIDS dropped radically and never reached the proportions that had been predicted.  
The same thing has been found to be true with methamphetamene use.  Meth is so bad, yet education has been found to be a deterrent to its use.  Children whose parents talk to them about it are half as likely to use than those whose parents don’t speak to them about it at all.  (

And then I learn in “Half the Sky” -- remember my blog from a few days ago? -- that the single greatest thing to help the women in third world countries and in repressed situations is again, education.  The women who are abused, hurt, those in the sex trades, those who have genital mutilations, those who have terrible fistulas from rapes and poor maternal care.  
There are those who have given up their lives to provide such education.  There are those who have started programs to fund such educations and there are those who have merely sent funds to help with these educational endeavors and they are working.  Miracles are happening throughout the world.  
It doesn’t take much more than a little look online to see what has happened as a result of this book and what things are taking place, what people have been helped and what groups have been mobilized.  
Embroidery, crop and animal raising and other enterprises have been developed among women and the respect for women by their husbands has grown such amazing ways.  Family decision making, equality, physical decency have all grown between spouses because of this education.  It has been remarkable.
This book is life-changing, I think, for everyone.  I learned about it on Oprah, and laugh if you will, her crusade on behalf of the women of the world has changed me.  I hope mine at least encourages you to read this book.  Or at least listen when it is spoken about.  It matters.  

No comments: