The Man from Wales

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“Women will be no longer made the slaves of, or dependent upon men…They will be equal in education, rights, privileges and personal liberty.”

Robert Owen, (1771-1858) Book of the New Moral World: Sixth Part, 1841

Scotland

Robert Owen was a change agent, by words and actions.  Born in Newtown, a small market town in Montgomeryshire, Wales, he became a social reformer and one of the founders of utopian socialism and the cooperative movement. He believed that when people cared about each other it would generate extraordinary outcomes for society.

At the young age of 29, Robert was part-owner of a Manchester cotton mill.  Soon he took over cotton mills in New Lanark in Scotland.  His priority was the workers whose livelihoods depended upon employment within his mills.  He enhanced their housing and sanitation, provided medical supervision, and set up a cooperative shop that sold provisions near cost.  His greatest dream was to educate children.  He established the first infant school in Great Britain based on his deeply held belief that improved circumstances would act as a beacon of hope.

Robert’s ideas remain remarkably relevant for us today.  In his words, “To train and educate the rising generation will at all times be the first object of society, to which every other will be subordinate”. (The Social System, 1826)

Robert’s life was dedicated to building a fairer society where all could live without fear of hunger or want, secure in the knowledge that their children would be educated and that their efforts would be valued.  Both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels paid tribute to Robert, as the man who gave them the basis for their theories.

“Eight hours’ daily labour is enough for any human being, and under proper arrangements sufficient to afford an ample supply of food, raiment and shelter, or the necessaries and comforts of life, and for the remainder of his time, every person is entitled to education, recreation and sleep”.

From the Foundation Axioms of Owen’s “Society for Promoting National Regeneration”

 

The Chefs at Work

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Kitchen Table

When I think that my life is crazy-busy, I watch the chefs on the food channels and realize my life is tranquil compared to the bedlam that occurs in a professional kitchen.   Professional chefs wear multiple “hats” and display interdisciplinary talents. They are artists, entrepreneurs, performers, communication experts, instructors and risk-takers.  Here is what they have to say…

William Todd English, based in Boston Massachusetts said, “I liked the energy of cooking, the action, the camaraderie. I often compare the kitchen to sports and compare the chef to a coach. There are a lot of similarities to it.”

On the other side of the continent in Yountville, California, Thomas Keller, founded of the award-winning French Laundry restaurant speaks to the moment he chose his life-work: “I wanted to learn everything I could about what it takes to be a great chef.  It was a turning point for me.”

Italian American chef and television personality, Giada De Laurentiis, was clear in her career choice.  To be successful, she said: “It helps to immerse yourself in what you potentially want to do.  Being involved, learning firsthand and observing the crafts and absorbing all you can, make it easier to define what you want.  It will also ultimately make you a better Chef. ”

The Barefoot Countess, Ina Garten, left a well-paying, prestigious position to follow her dream. “I worked for the Office of Management and Budget in the White House, on nuclear energy policy.  But I decided it would be much more fun to have a specialty food store, so I left Washington D.C. and moved to the Hamptons.  And how glad I am that I did!”

Kitchens, whether professional or in our homes, are the center of family life.  Vincent Andrew Schiavelli, the well-known stage, screen and television actor, once recalled: “My grandfather was a chef for a Baron in Sicily before he came to America. I grew up with him.  I used to do my homework at one end of the kitchen table while he cooked at the other end.”

The Legacy

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Education’s legacy is hope…

freedom…

and the power to change the world.

May we bequeath this inheritance to our children…

 

“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”

Victor Hugo

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”

George Washington Carver

“Education is the most power weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Nelson Mandela

“Education is the transmission of civilization.”

Will Durant

The Experience Journey

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I knew a great deal at 18 and even more when I was 21.  By the time I reached 25, I was not quite as certain.  That was the age when I realized experience was the mechanism for integrating knowledge.  And that was when the journey began…

“I think everyone should go to college and get a degree and then spend six months as a bartender and six months as a cabdriver.  Then they would really be educated.”

Al McGuire – Coach/Basketball Hall of Fame 1992

“The great difficult in education is to get experience out of ideas.”

George Santayana – Philosopher

Education – Are we still learning?

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“Why should society feel responsible only for the education of children, and not for the education of all adults of every age?”

Erich Fromm

Schools and universities have a mandate to educate.  To that end, they have created measurements systems and standardized tests to quantify whether or not learning has occurred.

As adults, how do we know we are still learning?

Education & Learning – Are they the same?

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“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”

Albert Einstein

We have sold ourselves into a fast food model of education, and it’s impoverishing our spirit and our energies as much as fast food is depleting our physical bodies.” 

Sir Ken Robinson

The age old debate of whether education and learning are the same is gaining momentum. Never before has education been so valuable and yet, whether learning has occurred is now being questioned.  We have the technology that allows us to communicate and transfer knowledge across the globe in a matter of seconds; the possibilities for advancement are virtually limitless.  Yet, in our dangerously divided world, this potential can only be realized when our learning institutions raise the hopes and spirits of humanity.  Only then can we, as a global community, learn to seek peaceful solutions, embrace diversity and experience a renaissance.