Thursday, July 12, 2012

Life Is Fighting For Us

(The following is an opinion piece.)

Children are advised to fight! if someone attempts to kidnap them, to shout! and hit back! if someone means them harm.

Now it is time for us to fight! as the hits keep coming, hits such as the ones described in The San Mateo Daily Journal's op-ed piece, "Education Takes A Couple More Punches."

And what might that hitting back look like?

Does it have to be lashing back in anger?  Harsh?  Mean-spirited? 

Or it can it be something different?

Can it be a

powerful demand that Adult Education survive because it serves the people of California? 

Can it go even further and become the demand that Adult Education thrive because it serves a real purpose, meeting the needs of both young and old, rich and poor, male and female, native-born and immigrant, single and partnered, rural or urban, employed, unemployed or retired, healthy or frail.
When your back is to the wall, something fierce takes over.  A survivor's instinct. 

Something more than your own individual desire to survive, something more like life's insistence on continuing itself, in whatever form works.
Adult Education is not frivolous.  It is not a cheap, plastic trinket in a birthday party goodie bag, soon forgotten or thrown away.  It is not a styrofoam cup, something which seems to serve a purpose but which in fact is toxic, in origin, use, and end. 

It is something that emerged from the people, for the people.

Such things cannot be destroyed. Not really.

They can be dismantled.  They can be diminished. They can be changed.

But they cannot be destroyed because you cannot destroy the need that brought them into being.

People have needs.

It is life that creates these needs - the need for food, shelter, nurture, healthcare, stability, safety, occupation, community, education.

Nothing will ever eliminate those needs.

They are a part of human life, present in every culture that ever existed or exists now on this planet.

To work against meeting those needs is to be in struggle with life.   And life, I will remind you, always wins.

So what does that mean for us, struggling to make a case for Adult Education's survival?

It means we will win.

It means that while the "bad guys" may dismantle Adult Education as it exists now, while they may diminish it, they can not truly destroy it because they cannot destroy the need that brought it into existence.

Adults have needs. 

Adults are parents - both native-speaker and English-learner parents - in need of skills and support as they attempt to give their children the skills they need to become adults, themselves.

Adults are job holders - in need of skills maintenance or new skills, and job seekers.

Adults are somewhere on the continuum of aging - either young, finding their way, looking for jobs, skils, advice - in between, dealing with multiple responsibilities at work, in the community, and with family and extended family - or old, coping with new transitions, retirement, widowhood, illness, moving.

Adults have needs.

And so long as they exist on this planet, they will continue to have needs.

The question is not whether or not we meet them.

Because any attempt to deny or quash those needs will be quashed, itself.

Need is always bigger than denial.

The question is simply:  How?

How do we meet the needs that human adults have to be heathy, productive human beings, as they raise their young, engage in community life, and grow old?

How do we create programs that serve those needs in efficient, cost-effective ways?

How do we continue to do what works and change what doesn't?

How do we respond to changes around us - in the economy, the community, the world?

We do it by remembering we are alive, part of those changes, part of that community we are serving and which we are served by.

We are alive, fed by a constant stream of strength, ideas, and energy, able to respond to change, adapt, and come out winning.

We know we will emerge as winners because while we in Adult Education may be fighting for our lives, we know that life is fighting for us -

because we're on the side of life. 

Cynthia Eagleton

(This blog welcomes the opinion of many.  Do you have news, information, or opinions about Adult Education matters?  Send them to to be posted here.)

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