/Winning the biggest race

Winning the biggest race

By Jim Poling Sr.
G. Wells, the English author of The War of the Worlds, once wrote that
human history “becomes more and more a race between education and
In today’s unsettled times it appears that catastrophe is winning.
literacy rates increasing, the world seems less civil, less tolerant
and less well-ordered. Those three characteristics all are products of
good education. Education, and the human qualities it allows us to
develop, is our best defence against catastrophes.
worth thinking about as millions of children return to schools where
they will receive classroom teaching in mathematics, reading and
writing, science and other traditional subjects. If they are lucky, they
might get some lessons on how to become better human beings.
that last sentence that has me wondering whether our education systems
need a rebalancing in terms of what and how they teach. Are they
teaching too much of the stuff that helps us to acquire high-paying,
high-influence work, and not enough about how to be thoughtful, caring,
ethical individuals?
Certainly there is ample evidence that our society needs a heavy dose of education on how to behave.
for instance, has become a major issue in our schools. On our streets
and highways, road rage is costing us much in money, injuries and
deaths. On social media and other internet sites we see people who toss
aside thoughtfulness and tolerance the moment their fingers touch a
politics we see purposeful dialogue abandoned in favour of boisterous
intolerance, totally lacking civility. Many politicians forget, or
simply ignore, the fact that there is a critical link between civility
and ethics.
for others is a cornerstone of ethics, which teaches us to treat people
with empathy and not simply for our own personal advantage.
school systems should put more emphasis on, and more resources into,
teaching character building. They could take a page – in fact a few
pages – from what I consider to be the very best of educations; the
Jesuit school system.
Jesuit education is faith based, part of the Roman Catholic Church
which has its own problems. But look beyond the religious connection to
see how the Jesuit system teaches the best of human values. It is a
system that promotes intellectual competence, a commitment to justice
and openness to growth. 
aims to train leaders in fields ranging from politics, to entertainment
and sports. Anyone who looks up a list of Jesuit alumni might be
surprised to see the number of names in leadership positions.
all Jesuit educated persons follow the lessons of commitment to justice
and ethical values. A recent example is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
who argued last week that jobs are more important than ethics. 
basically was his response to the Ethics Commissioner’s report that he
violated the Conflict of Interest Act when he tried to have then-justice
minister Jody Wilson-Raybould let Quebec-based engineering firm
SNC-Lavalin off the hook on criminal charges.
is not that the prime minister did not know that what he was doing was
ethically wrong. His early education was at College Jean-de-Brebeuf, the
Jesuit school also attended by his father Pierre, Canada’s 15th prime
that’s a discussion for another time, in another place and by other
people. The point here is that the Jesuit education system, as well as
some others, offers  examples of what is needed in our public school
public schools need more emphasis on teaching students how to take
responsibility for themselves, as well as how to advocate intelligently
for themselves and their beliefs and principles. They need to teach
students the need to gather and analyse facts before making judgments.
potential catastrophes exist in our world. Wars, climate change, mass
migrations of people, drug epidemics, gun violence are just a few that
threaten our existence. However, all potential catastrophic problems can
be solved, or at least alleviated.
keys to our continued existence are better educated populations, which
can be built by making education our most important priority. 
Ours has become a world of thoughtless social media, too much junk TV and “populist” leaders who talk and think like gangsters.

We can do better with better education, and win the race against catastrophe.