Education and America

We as Americans should pay heed to the perspectives presented in this documentary. Instead, our society should be encouraged to focus on unity. In order to accomplish this goal, we need to properly educate the future generations.

By Briana H. from Columbus High School in Montana

Education has always been an important ideal in America. Even in the early years of our country, elementary education was compulsory, which means it was required by law. Today education remains important; however, that doesn’t mean that our education has stayed the same. In fact the education system has changed quite drastically over the years. We went from one room school houses to having AAAA schools all over the country. On top of that, the education system became very individualistic. In other words, our system pushes people to view the the world in a selfish way.

Perhaps this ideology wouldn’t be a problem if our society wasn’t so diverse. However, America has always been a diverse nation. From the very beginning people came from all over the world looking for the freedom that America professed to provide. This fact should be celebrated because our rich diversity is just one beautiful piece that makes America so special. Instead, racism, discrimination, and even physical violence occur because of these differences. It’s time for America to acknowledge our differences, racial or ideological, as something beautiful. As something that you can put aside in order to unite as a nation. The documentary film American Creed is a model of Americans putting aside their differences and uniting under a common cause. A prime example of this was when David M. Kennedy and Condoleezza Rice sat down with a diverse group of Stanford University students. We as Americans should pay heed to the perspectives presented in this documentary, due to our society's unfortunate tendency to dwell on its differences in a negative fashion. Instead, our society should be encouraged to focus on unity. In order to accomplish this goal, we need to properly educate the future generations. This is because, how can we expect people to develop this important social skill, unless we start instilling it in them at a young age. After all, those who control the past control the future.

Joan Blades, a political activist and founder of Moveon.org, introduced the idea of living room conversations. During the documentary American Creed, Blades states, “They’re just really asking people to listen to each other and see if there’s any common ground.” In other words, she is saying that when people listen to others opinions and acknowledge their humanity a common ground can be found, even in a country as politically fraught as our own. The idea of living room conversations just may be the gateway America needs in order to unite firmly under a common ground. Condoleezza Rice, an esteemed member of the Stanford University staff, values education and its importance to achieving our potential as a nation. During her speech at The Foundation For Excellence in Education, Rice stated, “There is no more important issue before us as a country than the education of each and every child to the level of his or her potential.” She is acknowledging that education is vastly more important than our nation makes it seem, that without proper education one cannot reach their full potential. It safe to say that without being properly educated one cannot hope to fully and objectively understand the views of a person from the opposing party.

Other believe that the education system doesn’t need to improve. Some would even go as far to say that people don’t need to be educated in order to be a productive citizen of our society. They believe that they can learn everything through their own experiences in life. Perhaps it’s because of their lack there of value for our education that produces the following perspective as far as finding common ground. Some people examine our personal differences and conclude that they are too pertinent to just “set aside.” These differences could be as black and white as Democrat and Republican, or they could be as diverse as ethnicity. Bottom line is that they would rather debate our differences than focus on our similarities and unite under these points.

No one can deny the importance our country has put on education since its very beginning. It can also not be denied that our education system is imperfect. Since we do not live in an Utopian society, one cannot expect perfection. However, it is logical to strive to educate our children to objectively acknowledge the other side of the argument. In other words, we should be teaching the future generates not to disregard a person’s humanity due to a difference in opinion. America needs to teach its children how to put aside these differences and unite as a nation. For if it does not, the only enemies that we will have to face is ourselves. If America falls, it will not be from outside forces, but from inside itself. So therefore we must learn to unite as a whole nation if we wish to have a chance against the outside forces.

Columbus High School

American Creed - Continuing the Conversation

This group consists of student responses to the American Creed documentary from PBS and Citizen Film.

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Writing Our Future: American Creed is part of the National Writing Project’s family of youth publishing projects, all gathered under the Writing Our Future initiative.

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