EDUCATION AS DIALOGUE ON SOCIAL VALUES
Frances Moore Lappé
I confess that I often enjoy agitating educators in my audiences when I announce, with many students present, that I started learning when I dropped out of school. I grew up in the 1950s in Texas where football was king and girls were supposed to look pretty and never admit that they had ever read a book. I went through college trying to trick my professors into not discovering that I was really the dumb, southern female that I knew I was.
So it was not until I dropped out of graduate school some years later that my education began. I discovered that I had my own questions--questions so pressing that I could not determine the direction of my life without pursuing them. I started reading, auditing courses, and spending endless hours in the library. What began to take shape were not answers, but an approach to learning that has been my life ever since.
I call it "following my nose." By this I mean that I never know exactly where I am headed; instead I let one question form the next, and then the next, and so on. My own experience has taught me that the essence of education is figuring out what the questions are. Let me give you an example.
In the late 1960s, the world food problem hit the international marquee. Paul Ehrlich Population Bomb exploded. Books like Famine 1975! hit the stands. This was the general line of thinking they elicited: