Today we stand on the edge of a technological hiatus, the swelling gasoline prices an omen of the need for alternative energies. Many college students are selecting scientific majors in hopes of discovering an alternative energy source, augmenting a pivotal change in human history. Consequently, a scientific major may appear most useful toward a career, yet such a view is myopic. Without early education students cannot understand or use the sciences and all scientific growth becomes stagnant. Thus, elementary education is the most important major for the future.
One of fundamental reasons that elementary education is important is because it teaches reading. German Otto Lilienthal, a contemporary of the Wright brothers, studied gliders and wrote many influential articles about his research. A quote by the Wright brothers suggests that Lilienthal’s book, Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation, inspired the brothers to pursue the dream of flight. “He presented the cause of human flight to his readers so earnestly, so attractively, and so convincingly that it was difficult for anyone to resist the temptation to make an attempt at it himself…” The ability to read opened their minds to being the first in flight and their elementary school teacher had a share in their future of aeronautics.
The foundation for writing, also, makes elementary education important. Literature, as illustrated in the impact Lilienthal had on the Wright brothers, can be far reaching. Harriet Beecher Stowe authored the well-known novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin just before the Civil War as an outcry against slavery. When President Lincoln met her he is reported to have joked, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War [Civil War]!” The training to write that Mrs. Stowe received during her childhood enabled her to create an exceptionally influential work.
Elementary mathematics are essential too. Albert Einstein, who originated the Theory of Relativity and discovered the equivalence of mass and energy, was first interested in Euclidean geometry and Calculus as a young person. These subjects stimulated his mind and propelled him into a future as an infamous scientist. Einstein did not boast about his contributions but instead echoed Sir Isaac Newton’s words, “If I have seen farther than others it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.” Without the discoveries of previous great scientists and mathematicians Einstein would not have been able to advance human knowledge as far. And the only way he could comprehend previous discoveries is through a basic knowledge of mathematics.
Life is short. The seeds of greatness need to be planted early. Early education is a pivotal time in a student’s life when they develop a solid foundation of reading, writing and mathematics. With the foundation of elementary education, today’s discoveries and advancements in all fields of knowledge can be built on tomorrow.