Contemplating Commencement

Maybe you’ve noticed that those who have been exposed to the collective genius at work in some of our institutions of higher learning sometimes do things that make us wonder. Let me illustrate with a couple of representative examples. First, you’ll be relieved to know that there has been a scientific breakthrough regarding an enigma we’ve all struggled with; i.e., what, exactly, is the connection that exists between tornado wind speed and chicken feathers? The University of New York at Albany reported on a study that may hold the answer. It was titled, “Chicken Plucking as Measure of Tornado Wind Speed.”

No doubt I speak for all of us when I say, thank God we’re finally able to figure out how fast the wind was really going when that tornado sucked the roof off the barn and deposited farmer Jones’ cow right in the middle of Henrietta’s chrysanthemums over in the next county.

Another Groundbreaking Study ~
And if that first scientific wonder didn’t kick your academic praise service into high gear, how about this one . . . The International Journal of Neuroscience published a report titled, “The Effects of Unilateral Forced Nostril Breathing on Cognition.”  In case you’re wondering what that was about, their objective was to determine whether or not breathing through only one nostril makes you smarter. Now in the interest of full disclosure, how many of us, upon seeing a guy standing around with a finger up one side of his nose, have not wondered how smart he was?

America’s education system comes into view in a personal way for many of us this time of year, thanks to the graduation announcements that pop up in our mailboxes from relatives we may hardly remember. But whether we feel connected to the graduates or not, graduations are good things, so we celebrate with those who pass that milestone. They emerge from their quest for higher learning with evidence in hand that they have successfully completed a process ostensibly designed to make them smarter, and we Americans love smart people. We’re all concerned with “homeland security” these days, and having an abundance of smart people makes us feel more secure. Small wonder, then, that education is so near and dear to our hearts.

An Underlying Source ~
The process of teaching and learning has a pragmatic value that can hardly be overstated, given the fact that we come into the world knowing basically nothing — but an inordinate trust in the academic process can get us into trouble. We have been culturally indoctrinated to believe that the children we surrender to our education system will eventually become the highly intelligent people who will provide answers to our most complicated questions and develop solutions to our most challenging problems. It’s really not the high-tech gadgetry invading our lives everywhere that we depend upon for security, or our nation’s military might, or the layers of government bureaucracy wrapped around us, or the strength of our economic systems. Our hope lies in the belief that out there somewhere, there are really smart people in charge of it all.

Of course, having academically astute people in charge of things is not a bad idea. After all, we wouldn’t want our financial agency to introduce our new broker by telling us that while he’s a total idiot when it comes to mathematics, he has an incredible love for messing around with colorful graphs and pie charts, so he’s been put in charge of your portfolio. Nobody wants that.

Having smart people around is comforting. They represent the fulfillment of our desire for security, so we want a system in place that will produce an abundance of them, but overconfidence in the “system” can be perilous. If the system itself becomes the focus of our attention, and we become more concerned with the process than the product, then our objectives are altered and the whole purpose becomes skewed. Exalted academic programs in colleges don’t make the decisions that shape our culture and affect our lives. The people trained by them do. To the degree that we ignore the quality of the product of our education systems, in favor of protecting the cherished process, we sabotage the outcome and pervert the purpose.

Missing the Point ~
If I seem a little sarcastic, then maybe I’m slipping. Actually, I’m more than a little sarcastic. In this “upside down world” we live in and that I so often write about, we commit an incredible level of trust and vast reservoirs of money and energy to a system of education that cannot produce the security our hearts desperately long for. The real conflict confronting us is not between intellectual agility vs. cognitive sluggishness. The inescapable warfare raging around us and awaiting every graduate our institutions produce is between good and evil. The real dangers we face will not result from an inability to process and regurgitate information, they will emerge from an inability to distinguish truth from lies. A system of education that does not prepare for that war, and that does not focus on those foundational objectives cannot produce a product that contributes to the kind of security we all long to have.

The Apostle Paul warned of times like these, and after listing a disturbing array of characteristics descriptive of moral corruption that is all too familiar in our own culture, he points out one that has powerful relevance in the light of our educational system. He described a people who were always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:7 (NKJV)

The reality is that the acquisition of knowledge alone does not equip us to face the most significant challenges confronting us. Jesus Christ committed that preparatory work to His Church, not our school systems.

Graduation ceremonies and gatherings are wonderful times of celebration, and deservedly so. Acknowledging our intellectual achievers with speeches, music, pomp and ceremony is exciting. We dress them in strange, semi-religious looking attire, the likes of which will never be seen roaming the aisles at Walmart, and display them in parades. But if we fail to impart spiritual discernment vital to the kind of future we all seek, we may have only prepared them for plucking chickens and chasing tornadoes.

“TWEETABLES” ~ Share a Pull Quote with the NEW FEATURE Below . . .

  • To the degree that we ignore the quality of the product of our education systems, in favor of protecting the cherished process, we sabotage the outcome and pervert the purpose – via @GallaghersPen (Click to Tweet)
  • The inescapable warfare raging around us and awaiting every graduate our institutions produce is between #GoodAndEvil – via @GallaghersPen (Click to Tweet)
  • Those who have been exposed to the collective genius at work in some of our institutions of higher learning sometimes do things that make us wonder – via @GallaghersPen (Click to Tweet)
  • How many of us, upon seeing a guy standing around with a finger up one side of his nose, have not wondered how smart he was? via @GallaghersPen (Click to Tweet)
  • The real dangers we face will not result from an inability to process and regurgitate information, they will emerge from an inability to #DistinguishTruthFromLies – via @GallaghersPen (Click to Tweet)

Ron’s new book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth” is available now!

Click HERE for details … 


© 2018 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S.  All rights reserved.

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About Ron Gallagher, Ed.S

Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher, Humorist, Satirist, Blogger ... "Right Side Up Thinking ~ In an Upside Down World." For Ron's full bio, go to GallaghersPen.com/about/
This entry was posted in Faith and Politics, Faith, Family, and Culture, Graduations, Insights, Right Side Up and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Contemplating Commencement

  1. Sadly, many of our institutions of so-called higher learning are more interested in indoctrinating students, not teaching them to be critical thinkers with minds of their own. And don’t get me started on how these colleges and universities trample on Christian and conservative beliefs . . . It’s a wonder anyone with a diploma can even function in the real world these days, unless, of course, they cultivate a strong, unwavering faith.
    Blessings, Ron!

    Like

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