In 2013, Dr. Ben Carson gave a fabulous speech at the National Prayer Breakfast attended by President Obama and the First Lady. While many people called attention to controversial topics, I want to put the spotlight on his thoughts on education.
Carson was born to a single, illiterate mother and grew up in a very poor household. From early childhood, education made an enormous difference in Carson’s life. This article “Ben Carson and the Mother Behind the Man” gives a brief summary of his childhood based on the movie, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.
[Ben’s mother Sonya] knew that she had to do something to help her boys begin to live up to their potential. And though she didn’t know what to do, she knew Someone who did know. So she prayed and asked God for wisdom and guidance.
She also paid attention to the habits of the high achievers she worked for. She made some decisions and told her sons about them: they were to choose and read two library books per week and hand in book reports to her (they didn’t know she couldn’t read), and they were to limit TV to two pre-selected programs per week, watchable only after homework was done. Two books per week! Benny thought, alarmed. He had never read a book in his life. And how would he live with almost no TV?
Ben’s mother repeatedly told her sons that they could do anything anybody else could do, and do it better, if they would only work hard at it. She always had faith in them, and she never accepted excuses. She made none for herself, and would accept none from them–for their own good.
Ben Carson went from the bottom of his fifth grade class to the top of his sixth grade class in one and a half years. He earned a scholarship to Yale and became the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital when he was thirty-three years old. He was one of the youngest people to ever hold such a position, and the first black person to have a position like that in a world-renowned medical center. In the first seven years of his career, he performed breakthrough surgeries that changed the lives of his patients.
His story shows that anything is possible! If you haven’t already watched Carson’s National Prayer Breakfast speech, I highly suggest you do. In just a half hour, you will be inspired by his story and his views on education.
Here’s an excerpt from an interview he did with the Daily Caller after the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013:
TheDC: You mentioned education a lot during the speech, and a well-informed public. Do you think that the public is ill-informed and that it led to the president’s re-election?
BC: Well, all you have to do is look at some of those segments that Jay Leno does (laughs), where he asks basic questions. As I alluded to in the speech, you look at a 6th-grade exit exam from the 1800s and you look at the kinds of things people were expected to know. I mean, if you were to pose those questions to people, they’d say, “That’s ridiculous. How can you expect me to know that?”
Yes, we have dumbed things down enormously and we need to get them back to the right level. Quite frankly, having an uninformed populace works extremely well, particularly when you have a media that doesn’t understand its responsibility and feels more like it’s an arm of a political party. They can really take advantage of an uninformed populace.