Sparked by the 2014-15 All-School Read, I am Malala, the opening of school Chapel, and various on-campus speakers, the Middlesex community has been wrestling this year with questions around the value of an education. What does it mean to be educated? What would we sacrifice for an education? What is the availability of education worldwide, and what is our role in promoting it?
Middlesex Director of Spiritual and Ethical Education, Cabell King, invited students to submit a creative representation - essay, poem, artwork, etc - of what they consider to be the value of an education. Two finalists emerged from the competition: Ericka Ekhator '16, receiving honorable mention, and the project's winner, Hannah Beerman '16.
Ericka shared about her father’s emigration from Nigeria, about the education available in his home, and about his hopes for his family. She shared about her own experience of Middlesex and of independence, specifically the independence one experiences when one pursues education as an expression of one’s own interests and passions, as distinct from education pursued for the sake of achieving that which is simply required or expected. And she reminds us of the unique privilege it is to share in a community like Middlesex, rich with resources and surrounded by ambitious, empowered peers.
Hannah submitted an impressive photo essay documenting vast exposure to education in international communities. She explored the variety of experiences that can be called education and remarked at the potential hubris of thinking an education is strictly the kind of thing we are doing here. She spoke of the unique role of religious education among the Nepalese; she shared a story of a one-room schoolhouse in Oman; she told us about the five-mile walk that a group of Tanzanian children took to school each morning. She concluded, “A valuable education means a variety of different things to different cultures and people. An education is a chance for someone to decide his or her own future, instead of blindly becoming what is expected. An education is a chance for someone to be exposed to something bigger than his or her own village, or town, or city. Having access to education is being granted the opportunity to succeed.”