Over the past week I have been struck by the power of education to reform. The heartwrenching story of Malala Yousafzai highlights the ability of free education to transform not only people but entire countries. Malala, a fourteen year-old Pakistani girl who became famous for her work in advocating for equal educational opportunities for girls, was brutally shot by the Taliban as a warning to her and others seeking to liberate themselves through education. Thankfully doctors are hopeful for a full recovery and her story has gripped the world's attention magnifying Malala's voice and the impact of her work.
It is hugely convicting to see a young girl pay such an incredible price for her education. In a country where we have a vast array of educational opportunities open to us, it's so easy to take our educations for granted. But in a country like Pakistan there is a very real battle for freedom being fought and it is mainly being fought in classrooms. The Taliban has been very effective in using their schools, known as madrassas, to "educate" young men in extremist views and violence. In schools like the one Malala attended, they are standing for freedom and equality of opportunity. Nicholas Kristoff in The New York Times quoted one young woman from Peshawar as saying: “This is not just Malala’s war. It is a war between two ideologies, between the light of education and darkness.” How true that is! She recognized what Plato saw as the value of education. He thought of education as the force that would bring us out of the darkness of the cave of ignorance.
And so, I want to encourage you as educators, whether you're at home teaching your children or standing in front of a classroom, your work matters. By teaching your children about the history of human affairs, and introducing them to ideas in story books and literature, you are part of this movement. While there are probably many days where it doesn't feel as though you're breaking through walls of ignorance, you are. Education is a process and your faithfulness and diligence will yield results. Here at BFB we are blessed to interact with some of you each day and we see your diligence, your passion, and your convictions coming through. In your own ways you are partnering with those who see educational opportunities as a way to improve people's lives and change nations. Our prayers are will Malala and others like her who sacrifice so much in the fight for schooling and we are blessed to parter with you in your essential work.
On another note, today we are introducing a new series that we will be adding to our blog. It will be a "On This Day in History" and will feature historic events and figures from all over the world. We will be sharing resources to help you mark historically significant days and we hope you find this series useful and inspiring. We will continue with our usual entries on educational trends and developments, product features, giveaways, and everything else you've come to expect on the blog. We look forward to sharing all sorts of interesting historical events and people. If you have a suggestion for something to include in the series, please leave a comment below and we may feature your idea!
October 15, 1860
Eleven-year-old Grace Bedell of Westfield, Ny wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln suggesting that he could improve his appearance, and thus have a better chance of being elected, if he were to grow a beard! He took her advice under consideration and when she met him during a stop on his campaign trail, she was delighted to discover he had grown a beard! The photo above is of a sculpture in Westfield, NY and commemorates this moment. To read more about this charming and true story, check out the following websites:
And check out these titles to learn more about Lincoln:
Young Abe Lincoln: The Frontier Days, 1809-1837 by Cheryl Harness
Abe Lincoln Goes to Washington, 1837-1865 by Cheryl Harness
Abe Lincoln Grows Up by Carl Sandburg
Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
Abraham Lincoln by James Daugherty
Abraham Lincoln's World by Genevieve Foster
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