Is There a Link Between Education and Democracy?

Over the years, the people of the United States have been chasing democracy. In fact, the entire country was established under the principles of democracy. Nonetheless, even over the course of two hundred forty-three years, and that is how old the USA currently is, the people are still not satisfied and continue relentlessly chasing it. My life experience has proven so far that nothing ever comes to us easily, so with that being said, we are on the right track. However, there is a very important thing to highlight. In order to fight for something, it has to be clearly defined and taking into account our meeting, it is not always easy. The fact that democracy nowadays is a very broad term itself, with a countless amount of facets to look at, not to mention that every person has a unique perspective about it depending on what it is important to them, I think the word democracy should be replaced by another, more precise word, or at least, have clear parts to it.

With respect to the purpose of this fellowship, which is democracy in higher education, I will take this specific perspective. One of the questions we addressed at the meeting is whether or not democracy leads to liberation for all. I truly believe that is actually the opposite. It is the liberation (of thought) that will lead to democracy for all. I am using the term liberation with regard to thought because it is my understanding that as human beings, we first need to utilize our full intellectual capacity before we can really move on to something global like democracy. One of the issues that arose during the meeting, is that people are unwilling/unable to participate in actions that are made for the greater good. One of our fellows, Stephanie brought up an interesting point, that apparently, it is so much more interesting to follow Kardashians, than to take serious actions to create democracy. The importance of raising children highly intellectually capable is tremendous. Apparently, reading books and educate ourselves is hard. With that being said, I think the government should really increase the amount of funding dedicated to education at all levels, but that is a completely separate issue.

As I said before, the liberation of thought seems to be an extremely crucial point for me. It seems very obvious, that people should not hate each other due to their differences in thoughts or opinions, but frankly speaking, not all people realize that. On top of the hatred, we create based on that, we are sometimes unable to provide a rational of our thoughts or opinions. At this point, I am slowly getting into my idea of democracy, if the word should still be used. It is a place where people are educated. All people. Regardless of race, economic status or cultural background. In my opinion, good education is key to such important life skills as emotional intelligence, interpersonal awareness, and effective communication. Humans are social animals, we survive in groups, which means that we need to be in touch with each other constantly. Only then we are able to achieve a truly democratic society. It all will come with educating one another.

~Viktor Babak

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  1. Viktor! OK, so remember when Dr. Williams said that she prefers Undergraduates or Graduates? This piece highlights that optimism she discussed with this sentence: “My life experience has proven so far that nothing ever comes to us easily, so with that being said, we are on the right track.” Moreover, you’re realistic that there is more to the story that we need to invest in.

    This fellowship is not limited to democracy in higher education, but democracy as a whole in he United States and the various ways it affects our lives. I appreciate your perspective of liberation preceding democracy as it highlights emancipatory practices….Taking up democratic practices requires labor and depending on positionality, it may weigh more for some than for others, so yeah I get why social media stars are easier to follow. For some, educating children in a world that dehumanizes them based on race, gender or SES is not an easy task. These children are constantly told that they are a deficit and “at-risk” whether by their teacher, the news or social media. They are bombarded with images that tell them that they are “other.” If the parents/guardians of the child are not equipped to teach them otherwise and the schools are telling them that they are “other” or they should be in “special education.” This is a (but not the only) reason why just saying educate yourself falls flat because there is more to education than education (ie policies and practices [including funding] that deter self-actualization, positive learning environments…). Mike Rifino was told that he was at a deficit (ADHD to be specific) for years, but he believed in himself and had people to guide him along the way. Not everyone is like Mike.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and being so critical about the term and what it means to you, even though you’re still defining it. 🙂

    1. I do not think you got my point as clear as I expected. Probably, because I did not put as many details. I really do wish and expect every person to educate themselves throughout their lives. However, I fully understand that in order to plant such seed of desire for knowledge into an individual, certain skills have to be taught and developed. And this is where, I think, it is the job of the government to provide services that will provide the highest quality education for all.
      Surely, the example of Mike Rifino is valuable here, and moreover, he is not the only one who overcame the prejudice and incorrect prognoses about him. There is such person as Temple Grandin, the American Professor with Autism. There are now a bunch of deaf activists and influencers such as Marlee Matlin . I am sure all those people were told the things that Mike Rifino was told. What they had is emotional and cognitive stamina, which can be developed through education. I myself have been told by teachers I was stupid my entire childhood. That was what I meant. I cannot expect any person to keep educating themselves if they were not taught the skill for it. Also, it is my belief that every person came to this world for something. For example, one of the symptoms of Autism is an increasingly high level of concentration. It is so high, that it is hard for them to even refocus on something else. The army of Israel exploit it, people with Autism there land the plain, because it actually requires a very high level of concentration. That was my point about “educating oneself and others”. It is about helping people find their path.

      This will certainly benefit the society for the better. I am not sure if it is about democracy, but as I said before, I think we should really think about this word and decide whether it is something we actually want to achieve, If we do decide to chase democracy, then democratic society is the society where everyone has a place for self-actualization. And my point about education is handy here.

      The reason why I am being critical about it, is that I have noticed that people like to complain about the things that are not right, and not do anything about it. I get it, sometimes it’s hard to stand up to your beliefs if you do not have people that share same thoughts. However, the fire starts with a sparkle.

      Thank you for your excessive response and I hope my response was clearer.

  2. Viktor, OK, I got it! Thanks for the clarification.

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