“Is education important to your own sense of freedom?”

That was the question I was asked when I visited the Brooklyn Historical Society to check out the exhibit, Brooklyn Abolitionists/In Pursuit of Freedom, which is on display through Winter 2018.  It’s a small, but good, exhibit.  Check it out.

“Yes!”

One theme of the abolition movement of old is former slaves doing whatever they could to get an education for themselves.  The need for education is just as strong now.  Today, people all over the world are at-risk of being trafficked due to illiteracy, poor education and poverty, and they become victims through force, fraud and coercion.  People who work in education and workforce development are on the protection side of the anti-trafficking/abolition movement.

(http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/overview) I’m proud to be an educator.

Education is a pathway to the higher rungs of the job market, where people have an opportunity to find stable employment at living wage.  Yet, education is not just about getting a job.  Education is important because it helps us solve problems, it is fun, and it helps us to be fully participating citizens.

Education helps us solve problems.  Back in my social service days, my ability to read “official” letters was just an important as my social work skills.  For example, clients would bring in letters from the Human Resources Administration indicating that their benefits were about to be cut off, and not be able to understand the fine print explaining the appeals process.

Education is fun!  Education helps us understand some types of humor, like satire.  It also helps us enjoy activities like the crossword puzzle, Scrabble and Jeopardy.  (Remember Gloria (Rosie Perez) from the movie White Men Can’t Jump?  She studied furiously while waiting for her chance to get on the show.  Hilarious!)

Education undergirds meaningful citizenship.  We might be able to hear a campaign speech from Hillary or Bernie or Donald, and we can watch them debate; but meaningful participation comes down to critical thinking skills, which are honed through education.

Let education (and freedom) ring!

Rhonda Harrison is currently studying at CUNY SPS to earn her post-graduate certificate in Adult Learning & Program Design. She is a social worker with a background in workforce development and currently works as an Advisor at a community college.

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