Philosophy of Teaching: Postulate #13

13. Teaching and learning are subversive in both their motives and their effects. The fundamental purpose of education is to change the status quo.

Status Quo Cartoon

Changing the status quo does not necessarily mean taking action in the streets in protest of government policy , nor does it necessarily mean overturning particular aspects of the legal or social order. It might sometimes  take those forms, but the biggest change in the status quo at the university will take place within the learner him or herself, and not directly in society at large. Education will change you. The most significant way it will do this is to make you aware of alternatives to what you have already known. The knowledge of alternatives will not necessarily compel you to adopt them, but you will find many of them attractive and compelling. Education can enlarge your mind, your heart, and your soul.

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As wonderful as all that sounds, there is good cause to take it all in with caution and deliberation. It will almost  certainly be the case that not all of your old friends and family members have had or will have the same mind-heart-and-soul expanding experience. If you are not careful, your education can build walls between you, your friends, and your loved ones. We professors act as if we have offered you the gift of the gods themselves, usually without caring about your relationships with others not sharing your same educational experience. But it is a matter that you must handle with great care and tact. Though we have lectured to you, don’t lecture to your friends and loved ones. Though you may no longer find racial or sexist jokes funny, find some way of being tolerant of loved ones who still do. If you go about it carefully, you will not antagonize them or play the know-it-all, but you can act as a positive force for good and change–one person at a time.