What does education mean to you?

As you all likely know, my intent is always towards education. I don’t mean traditional systems, though that works for some folk quite well (myself included). I mean the simple act of learning. The fulfillment and deepening of curiosity. It means an engagement with the world that can only be temporarily dimmed by complacency. It means the survival and prosperity of individuals, their community, and the superorganism we all compose together. But for me it’s one simple idea:

Education is the best possible fulcrum for social change.

Everyone interacts with it, even if it’s explicitly not to. Everyone agrees our current systems are broken. And through the examination of those systems, we come to understand our cultures, and how we are affected by and effecting those cultures.

I’ve gotten into 50-comment-deep threads on Google Reader before (sadface to my recently departed favorite social forum) about this sort of cultural awareness, so let me explain a bit more.
I can support whatever choices someone is making, even if I don’t fully get it or if it doesn’t seat well with my personal world view. I can only do this, though, if they have examined those choices in light of other cultural knowledge. I respect the Catholics of Seattle I’ve met because they have also understood science, Greek mythology, and what they personally get out of religion. They have educated themselves about many aspects of culture and decided what works best for them.

This is what got me into Transhumanism – that we are at a point in our evolution where through awareness, we can become self-determining. It’s why I have “we are the machine” as my first tattoo – our interactions with each other are what set us going in certain directions. That is ultimate compassion and ambition.

So. This brings us to the most recent Brainmeats podcast. It’s me and Lisha; James Carlson, my mentor and founder of Bucketworks; Beth Kolko, awesome education hacker at University of Washington; Pete Hall, another amazing education hacker, though in Auckland; Dale Dougherty of MAKE and various hands-on education initiatives; and Kushal Chakrabarti of education microloan foundation Vittana. I have the absurd pleasure of calling each of these folk “friend,” some even “dear friend” or “partner in crime.”

Kushal is doing a blogger challenge right now for Vittana. You should check that out, plus the student I just supported, and get in on one or both of these extensions of opportunity. Those of us who are privileged enough to be able to choose between if school works for us or not, and how we will pay for it if we do, have a responsibility to offer those same opportunities. How often can you say $25 changed someone’s life? I lose that in the dryer every month.

This blog post is part of the Vittana “Make a Difference” blogger challenge. The contest invites bloggers from around the world to discuss various ways to make a difference in the world, as well as share stories on who or what has made a difference in their lives.

The winning blog post will be the post that drives the most loans to students in need. Please support this cause (and this blog!) by making a loan in my name: “Willow Brugh.” Be sure to type that in when you reach the checkout page (example screenshot) The more loans you make the more educations get funded and the more recognition and traffic my site gets!

Please support this blog and contest by using this special link to tweet about it (You can edit the tweet before it’s posted, but make sure this link (http://bit.ly/s5beTT)and the hashtag #vittanachallenge is part of the tweet or Vittana won’t know you tweeted about me!)