[NLA] How to Work Effectively with the Media
cb.king at verizon.net
Sat Dec 29 17:13:54 EST 2001
Thank you for answering my questions about the
notion of "returns on investment." I shall be as
brief as possible in my response.
First, you say: "It may influence the education of
the adult's children. It may influence that person's
participation in civic activity," etc.
Of course this is true, and I know many in adult
education are here because of these and other
legitimate interests. But are these goals the focus
of the "investments" of many, or are they lip service
used to cover (1) a desire to eventually diminish
social and community services to those who need
them, and who will continue to need them, and (2) a
need to develop "workers" for corporate "rolls"?
Your note says it "may" influence civic activity; but
in other notes (correct me if I am wrong here) there
is a current of a regret that accountability along these
lines is difficult if not impossible to meet.
If so, do you think we don't need accountability for these
issues any more, or have we devised new accountability
measures for the development of political acuity, or
may we just accept and hope that this is what happens
much of the time when people travel through education, even
though it's impossible to develop a time line, a test,
or a guarantee associated with this kind of development?
I would agree with the latter based on many qualitative
studies as well as my own development and people I have
known, and have said so here before; but I took it that these
were not methods or assumptions that were acceptable to you?
Also, you say: "Most people understand that economic
matters concern all individuals in all societies, whether
governments be democratic, totalitarian, socialist, capitalist,
or communist. Also, education and economics are intertwined
in all societies. In this regard, I did not invent the phrase
"returns to investment" when discussing education."
First, I'm glad to hear you didn't invent the phrase because
I think its use is degrading to education by marking a
dangerous blending of the ideas of capitalism with
those that support commonwealth--vastly different principles
that, at best, are tensional and, at worst, are violently
antithetical and have been shown to be so in historical
events too numerous to mention.
Second, the above relates to your comment: "Most people
understand that economic matters concern all individuals in
all societies, whether governments be democratic, totalitarian,
socialist, capitalist, or communist . . . ."
This is true. However, (1) I do not think "most people"
understand "investment" to mean across-the-board political,
social, etc., if they think about it at all, and I think it folly to
(2) I doubt "most people" understand the relationship of education
to democracy and civilization itself, which is what I asked about.
When we educate adults, and IF we use the term "investment,"
we are creating a long term investment in democracy and
But your reply takes in the relationship of economy to political
systems. Did I miss something here? These are not
the same issues?
(3) While I agree economics is intrinsic to any community, it is
dangerous to limit education to the realm of economic
(4) If "economic matters concern all individuals in all societies,"
then aren't we more concerned with "how" they concern those
individuals and societies? For instance, many American corporate
interests, who were themselves born of democratic institutions, do
not support democracies in other cultures because they know that
a change to democracy would upset the present economic imbalance
between the west and the "third" world--an imbalance that serves
"our" short-term "investments." The coverall term "Investment" fits
well with those who want "educated" workers for corporate
interests both here and in other countries.
When I say we are supporting the "haves against the have nots" this
is what I am referring to. When education means "workforce" and
"Investment" means developing what is, in its worst sense, horses,
slaves, and economic colonization, we have a problem with what
we mean, with the terminology we use and whether we articulate
well what we mean by those terms.
If many of the world organizations use this term, then the problem
of meaning and a need to articulate it extends to them as well as to
us. You are making some waves in international circles. It behooves
any of us who do so to be clear on such issues that have such
import for so many people.
Also, as a representative of the United States, you are carrying a
fundamental responsibility that, it seems to me, is not fundamentally
And I am not suggesting everyone is negative here. I know of many
who are committed and wise on such matters. But it is a great
fallacy of well-meaning people to assume their own well-meaning
is similar in everyone who uses these terms and is furthermore
rampant throughout the earth, or even that their well-meaning
actions will result in concrete good.
Thank you again for your response. I appreciate the good you
Department of Education
San Diego, CA
----- Original Message -----
From: Thomas Sticht <tsticht at aznet.net>
To: <nla at lists.literacytent.org>
Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2001 8:56 AM
Subject: [NLA] How to Work Effectively with the Media
> In response to my recent posting on media Catherine King asked me,
> "First, what do you mean by "returns on investments"?
> Answer: I use this phrase to indicate that money invested in an adult's
> education may do more than educate just that person; that is, it may
> produce returns to investments in addition to the return in the form of
> increased knowledge and skill that the person may obtain. It may
> influence the education of the adult's children. It may influence that
> person's participation in civic activity. It may influence that person's
> health and the health of that person's family members. It may also
> influence that person's employability. I try to let people who are
> unfamiliar with adult education and basic skills development, yet are
> debating the wisdom of investing corporate, charitable foundation or
> government money in the education of adults, understand that they are
> very likely to get multiple returns to their investments beyond the
> increased learning that takes place.
> Catherine King said, "Second, if you mean by "returns on investments" at
> least a passing reference to the "deep" relationship of education to
> democracies and civilization for everyone ala Jefferson, must this
> reference be couched in terms more suitable to the stock market and
> corporate concerns than to education?"
> Answer: Most people understand that economic matters concern all
> individuals in all societies, whether governments be democratic,
> totalitarian, socialist, capitalist, or communist. Also, education and
> economics are intertwined in all societies. In this regard, I did not
> invent the phrase "returns to investment" when discussing education. The
> OECD, World Bank, UNESCO, United Nations, educational economists, and
> governments around the world use the phrase, including the UK and New
> Zealand where I was explicitly asked to talk about returns to
> investments in adult basic skills education.
> Catherine King says, "If we are not referring to this relationship at
> all, aren't we perpetuating, on a much grander scale now, in Europe and
> with media help, social and political division between the haves and
> the have-nots that cannot be recovered by any adult education program
> regardless of how much adults have "stolen our hearts" in the matter? "
> Answer: No. To the contrary, we are talking about greater social
> inclusion, particularly in New Zealand and the UK. That is the goal the
> governments in these countries explicitly expound. In my semantic
> network there is nothing in the use of the phrase "returns to
> investment" that suggests exclusion of some adults from the fullest
> participation in the life of their society. Even professionals in
> institutions of higher education talk about the use of distance
> education to get greater returns to investments in education in terms of
> including more of the adult population in higher education while trying
> to manage costs. So rather than suggesting political divisions between
> the haves and have-nots, getting people, including those who work in the
> media, who are not familiar with adult basic skills education, to
> consider the many returns to investment that such education can produce
> is a way of encouraging social inclusion and of getting the media to
> help the society at large understand the value of making the investments
> needed to transform have-nots into haves.
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