IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Standards for Human Survival
By Viggo Pete Hansen
Humankind’s most important function is to prepare its offspring for their and subsequent generations’ survival. The only known solution for this is education. This profession is challenging, at times rewarding, often ridiculed and disparaged. Current acceleration in the acquisition of new knowledge, communication options, and behavior modifications make teachers’ and administrators’ chores labor-intensive, eh? To help our youth learn, understand, and assimilate these issues of survival is the responsibility of those of who are currently (have been or will be) in the educational trenches. We must be philosophers, moralists, logical reasoners, and above all, humble visionaries to promote survival of the species.
Universities can and do an excellent job in matters of content preparation, but education is not only the transmission of content, but more importantly how to evaluate its implications for the future. Content is relatively simple to teach. Behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and respect are far more difficult. There exist many sets of codified standards (norms) that we do not all agree on: e.g., evolution, sharing of resources, protecting our planet, etc. However, telling the truth should be on top, regardless of “correctness.” Truth is always correct. That is why I liked geometry—proofs.
Too often political/philosophical/religious issues may have little or no logical bases, serving only personal whims. Today everyone is at liberty—even encouraged—to follow their own or agreed-upon leaders’ wishes, i.e. “Do it my way.” Fragmentation, isolation, and hostility result, supported by incredible weaponry if you don’t do it my way. As witnessed in recent American politics, the sanctity of truth, logic, and social needs are easily and enthusiastically ignored and often bolstered by lies.
Five years as a nuclear weapons officer with “Q” and top secret clearances, I became terrified by how easily our species can erase itself; less by accident and more by overactive egos, whose decisions may not be motivated by concern for our collective survival, but rather by personal convictions.
This problem is now intensified in the preparation and ongoing support of educators. After military service I got into the math/science teacher ed biz and have through six decades witnessed the frustrations of teacher training institutions. They largely ignore human survival “hot button” topics in preparing classroom educators. To add to the conundrum, how does society, through its various public and private agencies, support schools on these issues? Keep in mind it is our species’ survival that is up for grabs.
This brings up accreditation—like who is accrediting the accreditors? Accreditation should reflect the all-encompassing role of education, not simply ABCs. So who accredits survival standards? We have yet to witness any accrediting agency seriously taking on this task.
International schools are the most “in touch” bunch of folks on the planet by virtue of students, educators, and locations to be the leaders in this “lifesaving” endeavor to create Standards for Survival.
I would encourage AAIE, TIE, PTC, etc. take a leadership role in addressing these topics. Most universities are by mission primarily theoretical. As the premier international educational organization, AAIE could, because of its global clientele, staff, and multi-political environments, begin a broad-based dialogue tackling these critical survival topics. All nations to be invited in sharing their perspectives.
Bottom Line: Let us hope societies will collectively decide that harmonious survival is desirable. If they don’t, then educators must lead in what and how we should help our kids get along for the long haul. This is a chicken and egg dilemma. As educators, let us show the way—we know the others probably won’t. Hippies of old used to say “Make love, not war,” remember? They helped stop a war. Let educators proclaim: “We will survive.”
I welcome pro and con comments—but will ignore con.
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