Archived Opinion

The overlooked importance of education

The overlooked importance of education

To the editor:

When young men of Ancient Athens reached the age of 17, they took what was known as “The Athenian Oath.”


They vowed: “We will never bring disgrace on this our City by an act of dishonesty or cowardice.

We will fight for the ideals and Sacred Things of the City both alone and with many.

We will revere and obey the City’s laws and will do our best to incite a like reverence and respect in those above us who are prone to annul them or set them at naught.

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We will strive increasingly to quicken the public’s sense of civic duty.

Thus in all these ways we will transmit this City, not only and not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

In many ways, America too was founded, not only on principles of individual rights, but on true doctrines of personal responsibilities and accountabilities.

Learning of our history dating back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1647, we spontaneously appreciate the contributions of our public school system.

It would be nearly 200 years (1827) before Massachusetts passed laws opening public education to all people. In 1837, the State Board of Education was formed. Boston had already opened the first High School in 1820, as public education expanded westward.

It was believed public education was essential to producing good workers — not so much for the knowledge they would acquire — but for the discipline schools once instilled but no longer seem to find necessary (much less feel compelled) to impart upon our youth today.

I offer this observation because, once upon a time, America (like Athens) was strong in a large part because a lot was expected of our children and, if memory serves, of our leaders as well.

I don’t really need to finish that thought for you, do I. 

David Snell   


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