Be Safe: Be Educated

No one lives in a one-dimensional world, so how can you only investigate one dimension of the world around you?


In other words, why is it not obvious that a well-rounded education is essential?  It even hits me when I think of the debates we have about the border wall—how limited so many people are in their knowledge of our history with Mexico, of NAFTA and how it affects Mexico’s farmers. Do you know why there are more and more families coming from Central America (see links below). Where is the critical thinking and the research? Opinion and maintaining a personal comfort level is not a replacement for intellectual engagement and decision.

I keep returning to the continued debate over safe spaces and how far student-directed learning should go (I value active participation and feedback but how can you direct if you are still learning?). We still need to address the bottom line of what an effective and “valuable” college education should be. It seems that a higher education really isn’t about education at all anymore, but (inefficient) business training. Is it at all about learning for learning’s sake and being able to understand history, literature, philosophy, art, science, math, psychology, etc. as entities that create a well-rounded person able to approach multiple tasks and scenarios with agility and a critical perspective?

If you only know one thing, you have no reserves of knowledge from which to draw to assist you in working out intellectual, social, financial, artistic, business, tactical, or strategic conundrums. Lack of challenge to your knowledge base and comfort levels (yes, social, psychological, philosophical, and ideological) makes for an individual ill-prepared for any and all complicated events that will inevitably occur in the future. Can you really tell a major corporation or internal department that they should employ you, but they cannot run their business model as it is because it triggers a reaction to something in your past?

I’m not talking about real harassment, bullying, or a hostile work environment so much as the ability to identify the difference between your inability to deal with discomfort or handle particular content at the moment and real injustice or conflict. If you have a well-rounded education, you may well have read about (history, sociology, psychology, literature) or encountered people (fellow students, professors, study groups, in case studies and field research) who have dealt with the same or worse experiences. You might then have the ability to offer or create a solution rather than live as a complainant with a dilemma that someone else has the power to solve or ignore.

Really, with the amount of fighting and struggle—and trauma—that women had to go through to get the right to access higher education, how can any now want to push back and reject access to so much of this content instead of figuring out how and when it would be best for them to take advantage of this access? For all of the LBGTQIA people who literally fought and suffered for their safety, dignity, and rights, you can’t sit in the controlled space of a classroom and debate someone you could have the chance to enlighten?

If the answer is no, I have compassion. I suggest the continued pursuit of healing then and, if you are able, educating others—not controlling the intellectual  environment. Coming from someone who has been the victim of trauma and who could not quite get it together in my younger years to be able to focus on or appreciate the rigors of college, I had to wait until I was older to return. I had to wait until I was ready to engage with the content.

Never demand that the classroom become limited. Limit yourself if you really must–and only temporarily–but no one else.


For 2003-2004  studies on  NAFTA and Mexico’s farmers see the following links.

These might be older studies, but the long-term impacts are what we are seeing now.;jsessionid=B1F89440BAE6D99BAE2BA6178671A6D2?doi=

For a information on causes of and policies that have influenced this current crisis:

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Heron Moon Press

I am an adjunct assistant professor of English at Pace University in NY, adjunct faculty in English at Raritan Valley Community College in NJ, an online member of the adjunct faculty at SNHU College of Online and Continuing Education, as well as a freelance editor and writer. For many years, I've taught, guided, and tutored many individuals from those as young as kindergarten age to Grad-school students. I've worked on fiction, nonfiction, and memoirs. What has given me the greatest pleasure, is when I have students get together in a group, and create a story together. I offer the theme (e.g., Create a version of Red Riding Hood) and they run with it. I hope to offer this community collaboration to many more people. The goal is to prove that you don't have to be alone to write, you don't have to offer yourself up alone to the group, you can collaborate and offer the world (yes, the world is the community) a chance to create a narrative together. The results have been amazing.

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