Could Educating Adults Be Beyond Repair?

A widely spoken quote from Frederick Douglass, that “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,” obviously supports the need for childhood support and development. Some see this quote as a shift of attention toward producing more results from educating children than perhaps re-educating adults.

Yet Douglass had known that the struggles from slavery could lead to the progress of democracy, such that anyone who simply takes the easy task of building children should not discount the broader reward of repairing adults and humanity.

This posting points that education, and those who speak in educational terms, must never reduce it to schools and teachers, but rather expand it to communities and learners; an expansion that includes not only children and adults, but also cities and states, businesses and enterprises, families and generations.

But a word of caution: While we are building and repairing, there will also be conflicting and competing parts. Some of them are the opposites of education, service, and learning, namely mis-education, dis-service, and mal-learning, which truly underscore the hardwork and struggle ahead.

So are adults beyond repair?: Of course not.  The danger, however, is not in our knowledge of what needs to be fixed, but in our ignorance of what should be left unchanged.


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