Education: The Power To Transform Lives

Posted on: February 20th, 2015

Linda Brazdil, Director for the Center for Science and Math Education, speaks about the importance of education as a tool for social justice.

Education has the power to transform lives. For a socially just society to exist it is imperative that all students, but particularly those from low-income and minority families, receive high quality educational opportunities. I work with educators, particularly in the city of Chicago, to help ensure that they do. My particular interest is in math and science education, but it is the integration of knowledge from many disciplines that transforms students’ lives by enabling them to reach beyond the constraints of their backgrounds to envision a brighter future. It opens the world of the arts, literature, science, technology, mathematics, history, and so much more to them. It also empowers them with the knowledge and confidence to eliminate injustices that are often perpetuated because their families and neighbors do not have the knowledge or political power to bring about change.

In particular, I think that scientific and mathematical literacy is essential to making decisions that foster a just society and a healthy planet. Too often children from low-income, immigrant, or under-represented minority homes and children with disabilities are not afforded the excellent educational opportunities they need in order to have rewarding and productive lives. Science education often suffers disproportionately for these children because of the mistaken belief that instruction should focus solely on reading and mathematical computation, areas where these children often are behind those from more privileged families. However, this narrowing of the curriculum increases the disparities between children of different backgrounds, perpetuating class and income differences, rather than providing opportunities for all students to develop to their full potential. Therefore, it is critical that students from less privileged backgrounds attend schools that support a wide range of educational experiences, including science activities and field trips, math challenges and competitions, and computer coding that has real and relevant applications. These schools would expand students’ experiences and build background knowledge they may not have because of limited experiences in their home environments.

My mission is to connect students, staff, and faculty at Loyola as well as educators from museums and other community organizations with area schools to break down the barriers that prevent all students from experiencing the wide range of opportunities that will inspire them to find their passion and use it to make a difference in the world. I had amazing teachers who opened my eyes to possibilities I never dreamed existed. I now want to make sure that every student, first in Chicago and at Loyola and then in the world, has teachers that do the same thing for him or her. In this way, all students, no matter what their background, will experience theater, concerts, museums, and other cultural events that will expand their worlds and fire their imaginations. I believe that in a socially just society, people like me who have been able to overcome barriers, must use our success to open doors for others and to support them as they grow in their knowledge and confidence to walk through those doors to productive and enriching lives.

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