The East Asian states have long held a mystique over the American people. In grade school, young children fawn over the yin-yang, a popularized cult symbol indicating balance, but more often wear it simply to “look cool.” Beyond this is the introduction in recent decades of yoga and common phrases involving “channeling one’s chi” and “centering oneself.”
But few understand the origins of these references and, to the chagrin of educators everywhere, are not bothered in the slightest by this lack of knowledge. While ignorant of many of these statutes and differentiations myself until recently, I think that these are particularly important issues that should be incorporated into what is considered a “well-rounded education” by any standards.
Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, other nations and cultures have an overwhelming amount of understanding of many of the intricacies of American culture. They understand the actions of our government and the role of television, social-networking and music within our society. But something that qualifies as a universal issue is religion. This social manifestation is present across all civilizations and its qualities tend to share similar aspects regardless of cultural influence. Therefore, it is crucial that something so vital to everyday life not be overlooked.
Within every group of people, a list of behavioral norms is implicitly present. In every group of friends, classroom, club, team, etc. there is an appropriate set of interactions and terminology. However, these differ greatly and someone in the Underground Literary Society may not necessarily feel comfortable participating in a conversation about fantasy football.
But so it is, and we are all aware that these other activities exist. On an academic level, there is an equivalency for the variety of studies that exist on campus. Though students do not take courses in every discipline, they are at least minutely cognizant that engineering involves mathematics and that the religious buildings are of a different brick.
Now, herein lies the problem with standard education standards. I have taken U.S. history a total of seven times in my scholastic career. And throughout all of this academic bombardment, I find myself disillusioned with the fact that I’ve only had one semester of world religions, and this was an opportunity seized only by my own initiative. It thus remains a peculiar question as to why an education system finds the need to dally upon its own history and greatness. The media and governmental economic assessments should allow the population to remain secure in its opportunity for success. But, as the world’s communication and technological infrastructures continue to shrink, we find ourselves interacting with a wide new variety of cultures and expectations. As anyone who has traveled internationally knows, business and its corollaries are not conducted exclusively on U.S. terms.
As the international community continues to strengthen itself, rising powers such as China, Japan and South Korea are beginning to gain prominence among the recognized leaders in economic impact. Though China considers itself a communist state, it is also home to the founding of Daoism. Several dynasties in the recent history of the state actually considered themselves endowed to rule with a “Mandate of Heaven.” Understanding of these regions is soon to be an integral process in post-graduate success, whether in the business world or not. Therefore, it certainly wouldn’t harm students to spend a little more time meditating on the Eastern realm and a little less time chopping down cherry trees.
Matt Boaz is a senior political science major from Edmond, Okla.