Last week marked the 200th anniversary of the birthdays of Darwin and Lincoln, who were born on the same day. These two individuals have had a significant impact on all of us. Both had profoundly different educational backgrounds yet each knew that education was the fundamental underpinning of life. As our local school children study these two famous persons there are certain characteristics to emphasize.
While Lincoln had no formal education he educated himself throughout his life. He taught himself Euclidean geometry, read Shakespeare and viewed education as the most important activity for everyone. Lincoln stressed the value of a free education for all children.
Contrast this to Darwin’s early experience. Before embarking on his career, Darwin was well educated and did his final studies at Edinborough University, studying scientific information, medicine and theology that lead him to his interests in natural selection. Without his academic background he would not have been able to make his incredible discovery of and contributions to evolution; that is, the changing environment and competition for survival leads to continual evolutionary changes.
Where would we be today without these men? We should celebrate their achievements and realize how important it is that we have a community of literate and creative constituents. We have the Emerging Technologies Center and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Are we preparing our children to work in these first class centers? We are still having trouble educating our children though we talk about quality schooling for all. We must never forget how vital good schooling is for all youngsters and for the future of this city.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Susan Uchitelle is a consultant for the Voluntary Interdistrict Coordinating Council.