Fighting Ignorance With Education: The First Step To A Better World
Rushing from Math to Physics to Chemistry, I listen to the chatter among the other students and wonder: Are these classes really making us better people? Will learning about the periodic table reduce any of the inherent, unbridled prejudices in this town? In the 90% Caucasian population of my rural high school, most of the conversation is riddled with racial slurs and hasty conclusions bred from lack of knowledge about other cultures. Especially after the recent American terrorism concerning people of the Islamic faith, any mention of that religion or even that skin color becomes a breeding ground for words of prejudice, anger and hate. Yet most of these students don’t have any basis for their claims. They learn what they know from biased news stations or from equally intolerant parents and friends. What our school really needs is a mandatory class that will rid these fresh young minds of the ignorance that is so readily bestowed on them by parents, friends and media. A clas! s such as Culture Studies, supplementary to the History or Social Studies classes already in the curriculum, would open up their nave eyes to the fact that North America is not the center of the universe by showing them the richness of cultural experience that is available all over the world. They need to know that Iraq is more than just terrorists, China is more than just cheap labour, and Africa is more than just AIDS. Our school system needs to introduce the human side of news, decreasing the cultural intolerance that runs rampant through high schools and creating a graduating class filled with global citizens. World Religions would also be an extremely beneficial class, even as part of a Culture Studies class, to enlighten teenagers about the huge diversity that exists in religion outside of their traditional Christian beliefs. Teaching students about the generally peaceful nature of most Muslims could cause an ebb in the flow of contemptuous conversation, and Religiou! s Studies in general would increase religious tolerance and he! lp to re duce the bullying towards these minorities in our schools. Ignorance breeds contempt, and the best way to fight it is through education. By making Culture Studies and World Religions classes mandatory for all high school students, we would be making the world a more peaceful and cooperative place as we introduce more tolerant, educated individuals into the world community.