For this post I was initially going to discuss women’s rights issues in the United States, but my friend and classmate Meredith beat me to it. While I am definitely able to talk about another facet of this very important issue, I am going to refrain from bombarding this blog’s readers from too much feminist content (if that is even possible).
Instead I am going to share my love for learning. Yes, I realize that is a great cliché, but I am going to ask you to deal with it for the time being. Like my classmates, I love feeling the rush of curiosity, and oftentimes confusion, that comes from trying to learn something new. Thankfully, my parents have recognized that education is incredibly important and are fortunate enough to send me to a very nice private school where the teachers, like Mike Gwaltney, are passionate, supportive, and very smart. Unfortunately, not all students have the same educational opportunities that I have. The American education system is falling behind. Even though the U.S. ranks fifth in spending for each student, it only ranks 17th in developed world for education (The Atlantic). The U.S. system is deepening the achievement gap and failing its young citizens.
Though America’s failing education system is an important political and social topic, I don’t want to concentrate on the negative for this blog post. Instead, I want to share what I believe is, and will further become, a necessary tool in education: the Internet. Although fancy computers and high-speed Wi-Fi can be expensive and therefore unavailable to some, the amount of engaging educational content accessible for free these days is astonishing. The readers of this blog are obviously well aware of the many benefits incorporating social media and digital content into the classroom has on students, but I wanted to use this time and space to appreciate this modern phenomenon.
I’ve benefited greatly from the empire that Salman Khan has created through his non-profit organization Khan Academy, through simple videos about redox reactions and prehistoric art.
This summer I took a six-weeklong online course in Social Psychology through Wesleyan University for free through Coursera.org. It was fantastic. I was able to access famous psychological studies, documentaries, and TED talks as well as interact with thousands of students of many different backgrounds, from over the world, on my to path new to knowledge.
Even the enormous social media platform of YouTube has its own brand of educators. My favorite being the fraternal duo of Hank and John Green (the author of the ever so popular The Fault in Our Stars), who have created a collection of channels dedicated to education through witty and engaging videos. Their content ranges from scientific news and concepts, to literature, world history, healthcare policy, explanations for current issues, and even to sexual education.
I have named a minute fraction of the many free educational resources available on the Internet, but I wanted to share with this audience these fantastic resources that are dedicated to sharing knowledge in a fun and accessible way. I will be excited and optimistic about the future of education in the modern world, if our system can adapt to include some of the passion the founders of these resources have. This subject may not seem relevant to issues regarding Government, Politics, or Citizenship. However, I believe that the solution to any problem is through knowledge, and so I see these online resources as being crucial for governmental, political, and social change.