Education Corner

Commentary

The Key That Unlocks The Door: Education
by Manuel Hernandez


Education is the key that unlocks the door to a new world of opportunities here and anywhere in the world. Without education, humanity merely survives and risks its existence. Yet, the talk is about war and politics these days. With all the kidnappings, bombings, and the presidential campaign, education, the key to the future, has been relegated to the back door of daily conversation.
When you are born, you do not choose where you will start out in life. I had the blessing of being born in a legendary town right across George Washington's Hudson River, Sleepy Hollow. The positive learning environment imparted by teachers and the educational community at John Paulding, Pearson and Winfield L. Morse went beyond all academic expectations. I was taught to care, open my mind, think for myself, speak out, stand up for what you believe in and be creative. The rising factor in an education is motivation, and I was handed that package at a very early age. But this is not the story of millions around the world.
What happens when you are brought up in, during or in times of war and tragedy? How do you evoke or provoke yourself to grow and care without appropriate role models? When do you decide to march forth in life and go beyond the negative expectations of those who surround you? How do you restore faith when there is disaster, crisis, destruction and adversity knocking at your door constantly? The best-selling Latino poet, Tato Laviera, answers these questions and others purposefully in "Fighting":

ceased to be physical

when I realized my natural

potential for dealing with

institutions on their own

word and logic turf


ceased to be physical when

the power of my uneducated job

prose elicited respect at a job

interview at Livingston college

(first and third stanzas, La Carreta Made a U-Turn, p. 31)

All of our modern day heroes have learned to take these questions and transform them into keys to unlock the doors of opportunities in their lives. Motivation does not come easy. It takes purpose, strength of character and leadership to go deep inside within. When doors are seemingly closed, others will open. When role models fail, big brothers and sisters will fulfill their duties. Bigotry, ignorance and prejudice can only be confronted from an educational standpoint. The current Secretary of State of the United States has learned to serve and lead under both political parties. Mr. Powell comes from a very humble background in the South Bronx and has used his great determination and will to demonstrate that no one is excluded from greater doors of opportunities.
When the reflection in the bedroom window (past experiences) are not the brightest, the key to salvation may very well be an education. It will take an encounter within to heal and restore, but it is possible. With all the talk on war and terror, education will soon surface to the top, and all Americans will understand its role to unlock those hard-locked doors. There will be no need to bring the doors down. They will open naturally.

Manny Hernandez, a Puerto Rico Sun contributing writer on education issues, is an educator and columnist. He may be reached at 787-448-6080, or you may write:
HC-O1, Box 7717, Luquillo, Puerto Rico 00773
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