Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Joy of Information (plus Davidson Fellows announcement)

Plenty of folks are going back to school this week and next and the week after Labor Day. In my home, both my boys are starting new preschools this fall. My almost 2-year-old will be going two days a week. This will be quite an adventure for all of us.

It's also, if you think about it, an amazing privilege. We have so much access to education and information here in the United States. Right here on my computer I can read all kinds of books in the public domain. For a few bucks, I can download most others to my Kindle and start reading them in a minute. I can watch Khan Academy videos or listen to amazing classical works on Pandora. Kids can go to free public schools, and even if they're not wonderful, they exist, up to the high school level, for every kid in the country. That's more than many nations can say.

Can you imagine not having any of this? Can you imagine that, if you wanted to know Abraham Lincoln's birthday (to take one absolutely random example), you wouldn't just be able to figure it out? You'd have to ask around, and people might or might not know. Imagine having to walk a whole day to the next town to make a phone call to someone who might know the answer to a town engineering problem. It's funny that we make such a big deal about back to school sales, and what the kids will be wearing, and seldom stop to think about how amazing it is that we can tap in, so quickly, to much of human knowledge. It's something to be grateful for, even as we try to change our schools to best serve our kids.

On another note: The Davidson Institute has just announced this year's Davidson Fellows! These $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000 awards go to young people who've done groundbreaking work in math, science, literature, the arts, and other categories. For profiles of this year's winners, read the announcement here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this. It really is amazing to live at a time and in a place with so much information available. From kids eager to learn to the elderly who want to stay connected to the world. Also love reading about the Davidson Fellows. Thanks for the link.