Today I sent a note to my two state reps, the Lt. Gov, and the Gov, asking them to support higher education.
I told them I believed education is the greatest change agent ever to exist in modern society, and we should invest in all aspects of it--from pre-k to community colleges and public universities.
And it was a busy weekend—on Saturday I did my weekly food shelf delivery, and on Sunday some friends and I volunteered to film a music video for a group of promising young women (2 high-schoolers and 1 college age) in a band called Bruise Violet. It was a ton of fun and I think they are going places, so it was nice to have a chance to give them a boost. They are singing about important issues to strong young women of that age. And they were very well educated and had great opportunities—doors opened for them, it seemed to me, by their strong and supporting mothers!
And then the other day I went to a lecture about “the maintainer” society, as opposed to the innovator society. Although the term “innovator” gets most of the headlines, we are a society of maintainers.
Interestingly, the term innovator didn’t even exist 100 years ago, and really didn’t get put into policy until the 1990s, and it continues to damage to higher education, because the focus has become applied research—which can more swiftly be put into corporate use, as opposed to basic research—which itself may have no immediate use but which most huge innovations eventually stem from. Research universities are getting squeezed out of public funding, and more and more they’re partnering with industry for money and to prove their worth with more immediate economic benefits. I’m not sure I’m strictly opposed to that (somewhat opposed), but I think we need to have a balance and have a good number of our scientists working on basic research if we’re going to be a strong country well into the future.
The lecturer gave one example of how innovations can change society, in ways we probably don’t consider: the washer/dryer. Before their invention, our standards of how often we needed to clean our clothes and about our personal hygiene weren’t as strict. With its invention, those standards went up, and so did the workload—usually falling to women. Think of it: how often do you do laundry? Every time you put on a shirt or use a towel (that dries you at your cleanest) do you wash it? Holy cow we like to make work for ourselves!
I’m going to do way less laundry this month. That’s my pledge to me. I hope no one notices. I will have to eat more carefully and try not to spill food on myself.