Rep. Chris Reykdal, who has proclaimed foreign language education to be a waste of taxpayer money, is not the first politician to suggest pruning this long-standing branch of the humanities. It was his commentary, aired on the radio this morning, however, that assaulted me while I readied myself for a day of, according to him, futility. I am a foreign language teacher.
First and foremost, I am an educator. And as such I believe in nourishing and growing the whole child, body, mind and soul. Reducing our mission to the mere molding of widgets who will dutifully drive the gross national product is akin to training only the right bicep. Public education should introduce our young to all the possible pathways that might lead them to discover their own interests, talents and gifts. It is not our place to pave this path for them. True proponents of education endeavor to preserve and promote the inclusion of an array of disciplines.
I defend not only foreign language, but every discipline which has been the target of some politician’s attempt to blithely exterminate, deeming it of “no use.” All learning is useful. All learning has merit. Its very process contributes to the building of a better brain. Learning begets learning! And a better brain is what enables us to learn new skills required by an ever-changing world, be receptive to unique points of view and enjoy the vast array of exercises of which our minds are capable.