Saturday, November 8, 2014

“Edge of Tomorrow” and the case for better education

I just watched Edge of Tomorrow, a recent action movie with Tom Cruise, and it got me thinking about education. In case you haven’t seen it, it’s basically an action movie version of Groundhog Day, where Tom Cruise lives the same day over and over until he saves the world from alien invaders. Umm, well, that last sentence sounded pretty stupid, but I actually thought it was a pretty good movie.

Anyway, in the movie, Tom Cruise (Sgt. Cage) enlists the help of Emily Blunt (Rita Vrataski, super badass alien killer), and every time he relives the same day, he makes it a little further towards killing the aliens with her. He remembers everything that happened, but she remembers nothing. That means that he has to teach her everything that he has collectively learned every day, which is of course limited by the capacity that she has to absorb all that information. It occurs to me that our own lives are a lot like Rita’s day. Each of us is born knowing nothing, and we have exactly one lifetime to learn the collective knowledge of the world (and hopefully add to it) before we die. As our civilization’s knowledge burgeons, we have to get better at cramming this stuff into our kids' brains, because they still just have one lifetime to learn an ever increasing sum of knowledge and then to use it. Somehow, thinking about it this way makes me think that it’s really sad that we haven’t paid as much attention to how we educate as we should. I mean, I guess I already knew that, but it just seems to take on a bit more urgency for me when I think about it this way.

Hmm. I can’t believe I just made an analogy between Tom Cruise and the collective knowledge of the world. I need a drink.

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