One of my favorite films of all time is "Dead Poet's Society." When most hear the title of the movie, there is one phrase that immediately comes to mind: Carpe Diem. (Seize the Day) Indeed a very powerful phrase, and one not to be overlooked to promote a rich and full life.
But it is not this phrase that encapsulates my appreciation for this movie. My facination is summed up in three words: Finding Your Voice.
By the inspiration they find in their teacher's classroom and through his life, a handful of these young teeaged high school students re-establish the "Dead Poet's Society" where they moved from the confines of their prep school do's and don't's and find a place where they drank with their souls -- indeed, found a platform of unfettered expression.
Those who know me know I have a love for education. It is because in the very essence of an educated person, I don't see someone who has merely gained a lot of information, or is just curious and wants to know more about a subject or discipline. No, education provides so much more than that.
At its core, education gives us a voice. From the earliest stages of development, a child is learning to express what they see and how they feel. As we grow in maturity, we move from the whining of children and the reckless "say-whatever-comes-to-mind" manner of the adolescent, and learn how to communicate in a way to allows us to truly engage with and see one another. We are taught words that help us accurately say what we want to convey, and is still respectful of another's opinion. No one wants to listen to a rant.
In short, education, however you gain it, grants us the ability to have a voice, and teaches us how to use it. If education is not building up the confidence of the student, it falls short of its purpose.
I am so grateful for two or three very key teachers in my life who recognized my voice and promoted its development. Going from a completely silent student of my early university years, I've learned to ask good questions, seek out reliable information, and put in words what my silent teeage self did not have to courage to say. When I watch Dead Poet's Society, I am reminded that all of us have a voice to discover and use. And God forbid that it should ever be smothered due to neglect.