Education in the Military — From the greenest Private to the saltiest General education has proven itself to be central to success in the military. Without the foundation of knowledge displayed by military leaders throughout history there would be no reason to recount the many victories in war won by gifted strategists.
For war would be little more than randomness and chaos. But this has not been the case. Since the earliest times of ancient battle, those who took the time to prepare and learn have fared better, without regard to the lot to which they were assigned in life. There has always been a direct correlation between some form of education and success in the military field.
If the need for education and preparation has changed, it has increased. The advent of the internet, acceleration of technological development, and increased inter-connectedness of the world makes thorough preparation essential for any sustained military activity.
This fact must be understood and accepted by every military member, since each service member plays a pivotal role in the success of every one of their unit’s military endeavors. For instance, the military supply clerk may feel unnecessary or perhaps unimportant when the unit’s mission is infantry-based operations but, those assumptions are wrong.
His diligence in accurate record-keeping, organization, shipping, and storing is the only reason the infantry operations can continue. He must see this and continue with proper diligence as the rest of the service is depending on him. Every service member is an essential link in the chain. It is incumbent on every service member to pursue higher education and thereby maximize their contribution to their service and their country.
The Importance of Education in the Military
Pursuing education while serving in the military is not easy, it requires considerably more effort than waiting to be spoon-fed information by superiors. If a military member wishes to set himself apart from his peers he must pursue additional learning as though his life depended on it, for in many cases it may. The methods with which he chooses to learn will vary depending on his current situation; the constant is that his path is one of self-directed study.
He must be both the instructor and the student. He must be willing to forego times of amusement and instead dedicate himself to his books. He has to be willing to be ostracized and ridiculed for his singular focus on improving himself. The service member who wishes to pursue higher education must steel his skin and be prepared to stand alone, because he knows that through his study, he is winning the war.
One of the great advantages of being in the military is the educational benefit that is offered. Active duty, retired, and inactive members of the military can take advantage of the benefits that are offered to them under the military educational program known as the GI Bill. Since the GI Bill is in place both during and after a military member’s service for a stipulated period of time, these students often have more time in which to plan for their educational goals.
This time for planning gives military students advantages that other students may not have. For example, military members can begin work in their military field first to determine if that is the area in which they want to attain their degree. By entering the work force before beginning college, these students may be able to determine their degree path based upon their real-world work experience in the military.
Even if a military member decides to begin their military service immediately after high school, they can still attend college while they are engaged in active duty. The GI Bill will cover tuition expenses incurred from accredited online colleges and universities. Attending online classes may help prepare military students for the rigors of traditional university coursework once they are discharged.
It is not uncommon for military members to use their GI Bill benefits to complete a degree program while they are on active duty. Many members who complete these programs while they are on active duty do so while attending online degree programs. For some military members, attaining a degree may help them with promotions and job opportunities within the military.
Military students may choose to take classes and focus on degree programs that are directly related to the field of military work they are already in. This will give them a double-edged advantage because not only will they attain academic knowledge in their career area, they will also be able to apply that knowledge to their real world experience. This combination of academic knowledge and experience can help them move into lucrative and prestigious consulting jobs once they decide to retire and work in the private sector.
Online degree programs may be ideal for military members because they offer advantages to military members that traditional schools can’t. First and foremost is flexibility in scheduling. Military members often move quickly from assignment to assignment, and it is well known that they have long and erratic hours. The ability to schedule classes, exams, and other components of a degree on their time is invaluable to military students.
Military students who are stationed overseas can take college classes online; all they need is an Internet connection. They can complete their assigned duties for the day, then return to their homes or barracks and work on their degree program. Even military students who are stationed in hot spots throughout the globe can work on their degree programs when they have the Internet available to them.
Traditional and online colleges and universities are working to create programs that will help our military men and women transition from military service back into civilian society. The University of Kansas recently announced the first graduates of its Wounded Warrior Initiative, which is a program created in 2008 to help wounded military members earn a master’s degree after their military service. Programs like these are popping up across the nation, because of a recognized need to help service members attain their educational goals after years of service to their country.
During the 1960s it was commonly believed there were no significant differences between males and females. The only real differences accepted were in a few aspects regarding the basic plumbing. As this thinking went, the perceived differences in abilities, interests and needs between the sexes were only social constructions, probably instituted by the “patriarchy” to maintain their dominance and to keep women in their place. These constructed views were seen as part of the oppressive and rigid thinking from the past that had to be torn down and abolished so women could take their place as true equals.
For years, all right thinking people believed this as accepted fact. Then, in the late 1980s or early 1990s, a watershed event occurred, Time Magazine published an issue heralding recent brain research that showed conclusively that there were significant differences between the brains of females and males.
That Time Magazine needed to make such an issue about this research showed more than anything else how ingrained the uni-sex thinking was. I still remember the shock waves this pronouncement made. Comments ranged from a gasp to shock. “You mean our parents might have been right about something?” “Will this kill the women’s movement?”… and so forth.
Well, yes our parents were not dumb bunnies and did know a few things that were forgotten for a time as various ideologies held sway before finally bumping up against reality. And, No, it didn’t kill the women’s movement, which has accomplished much since then, and probably even more since it became based more on reality than some wishful thinking ideology.
The fact of the matter is over the last couple of decades, brain research has clarified the differences between male and female brains with advantages to both. One of the advantages is the trend to get away from pursuing a mythological happy medium in elementary and secondary education to try to appeal to both males and females at the same time.
Just a simple awareness of the differences can better inform the teacher’s overall strategy, and single sex classes are becoming an option that sometimes is needed. Therapeutic schools and programs learned long ago that for some children, single sex classes at times is by far the best approach. At other times, coed classes can utilize and cross feed from the different perspectives. Losing ground is the rigid perspective that virtually all school activates must at all times be coed.
The source of the main difference is the result of the hormone bath each child receives shortly after conception. The Estrogen bath as a general rule produces girl babies with a brain hard-wired toward communication facility and oriented toward social interactions. The testosterone bath produces male babies who are as a general rule more physically active and oriented toward individual actions. This plays out in competitive vs. collaborative activities.
An example from the elementary school playground comes to mind. For girls, even though some girls are very competitive, they usually act within some team or collaborative activity, maybe striving to be at the top of the pecking order, to use a common and perhaps controversial metaphor. For boys, King of the Hill comes to mind, with every boy competing for himself against all the other boys, though occasionally a few will collaborate to gain an advantage over the others.
While of course there are many individual exceptions, these generalizations tend to be backed up by years of research, largely brain research, and this is the point. We have to get out of the uni-sex mentality to approach our students in the way they can best learn. Taking into account the differences between male and female brains is a major step toward teaching to the child rather than to some mythical happy medium.
My recent interview with Jane Samuel and Elizabeth Guamaccia from Auldern Academy for Girls in North Carolina on LATalkRadio was very enlightening on the implications in growing and educating adolescent females. We spent an hour talking about educating the female brain, with numerous implications as to what is important to adolescent girls, how bullying among girls is different from bullying among boys in how it can impact each (negative in both cases of course).