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From: Ross Olson <ross{at}rossolson.org>
Sent: Thursday, September 19, 2013
To: Editor Star Tribune (opinion{at}startribune.com)
Subject: Education

The talk about education has been too superficial. Although some families are not able to articulate or
even clearly see the problem with the present system, the biggest issue is the underlying
philosophy. That is where our entire culture has gotten off the track. Education needs to be based on
who we are as human beings and what we should do. This means answering the questions, "Where do I
come from?" "Why am I here?" and "What is the meaning of life?" It is possible to ignore the questions
but the entire curriculum will still be based on a set of unacknowledged answers to those questions.

If I am an accidental collection of molecules with no intrinsic purpose, where does self-esteem come
from other than the fabric of the Emperor's New Clothes? And If I am told to create meaning and I am
bright enough to think it through, then I realize that the molecules in my brain cannot tell their
neighbors to bounce the other way and free will is an illusion. And if things can be true for me but not
for you, then maybe school is not right for me and maybe joining a gang or having a baby will solve my

The misguided goal of a value-neutral education becomes an intellectual anarchy and a moral
quicksand. Smaller class size or more funding will not solve this.

Ross S. Olson MD