EDUCATION is simultaneously a great and terrifying word. It has been used across many decades and centuries to explore all kinds of theory and forms of enlightenment. Being an educator, as I know many fellow bloggers are, is a great gift and a great responsibility. Every day I try to be the best educator I can and every day I am not quite sure I've pulled it off. This week the kind education being talked about in the papers here in Britain is sex education. The morning after pill is now being advertised on British TV in a cartoon format and I am thankful to say this has been met with some debate (that is something at least). When I read the comments page on the tube home last night however, I found there wasn't much room for 'debate'. All the comments bar one were radically in favour of the ad. Whichever way you look at it this it is not exactly uplifting - I doubt its proportional representation on the other hand if it is not then it is a media attempt to manipulate us into believing it is proportional representation and that is not much better.
Comments read 'Give our children the best possible education'
'It is important for them to know how to protect themselves'
I have no doubt that these people were sincere in what they had to say and that brings me back to my original statement. EDUCATION - a simple and innocent enough looking word but one that can alter who we are and what we become.
In the last ten years I have seen a tidal change in the sexual 'education' of children. At the beginning of this decade I was a teenager myself, still at school . I saw the markers of this change approaching in my own education. In my last year at school a woman with a mousy voice and cropped hair appeared with small clean little cards and handed them out to us following an innocuous talk that skirted round her point. The cards read 'Off The Record' followed by 'confidential advisory service and drop in centre'. Our parents had been given no notification of this woman coming into the school. Ten years on and those 'advisory' services are now often within the school grounds . They have taken 'options' out of parents hands completely so that an abortion can be arranged for a 14 year old girl without the knowledge of her parents. It has happened slowly - so slowly we barely felt it but now it is here it is difficult to get back to where we started from. Why?
Girls who become pregnant are told that the selfish, irresponsible thing to do would be to carry their pregnancy to term.
They are told that they were not wrong to engage in a mature relationship too fast but that they were wrong not to use any contraceptive they could lay there hands on before they did so.
It has become expected that children will engage in sexual relationships and their education has been that this is acceptable and even necessary.
What is irresponsible is to have a baby.
Miseducation. Parents themselves are educated to believe that throwing contraceptives at teenage kids is protecting them - you can't expect anything better of them.
When that fails you throw abortion at them as the RESPONSIBLE thing to do - you can't expect anything better.
I have stood outside abortion clinics and watched parents troop in and troop out with their teenage children -their heads held high - believing they are doing the RESPONSIBLE thing.
In an era where we take pride in how well we protect and nurture our children we belittle them and take their sense of personal RESPONSIBILITY away from them. We believe them to be incapable of behaving with forethought, strength and decency. And an EDUCATION based on this belief must be fundamentally flawed.
An EDUCATION which ignores RESPONSIBILITY, life, potential, possibility and the unexpected gifts which make life what it is- this is fundamentally flawed
Life, language - these have become the greatest irony and for those with their eyes open this is an EDUCATION in itself.
With all our EDUCATION we find ourselves with the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe. Yet no one will speak because they are too afraid that the spell might be broken. Someone might see through the semantic field of pleasant language that is a cover for horror and indoctrination.
For those of us who can see through this language our RESPONSIBILITY is greater than it has ever been. We must teach that our duty in this world is not to avoid consequences and RESPONSIBILITY but to embrace these things- for nothing EDUCATES better than the outcome of our actions. We all screw up - but what if something beautiful can come from that? What if we ignore that beauty?
What if we seek to destroy it?
What if we EDUCATE a generation to believe that destruction is not only valid but right?
What if that generation has to live with a silent guilt and shame?
What if they never achieve the potential they had because we didn't believe them capable?
As a young man called Karol Wojtyla once said 'my principle task would be to preserve, to protect, to defend, to augment, to deepen this desire for the good, the true, and the beautiful.'