The Washington Post reports on a debate over mandatory adult education currently happening in Nordic countries. Forcing adults to return to school is seen by some as a way to make people adapt to the changing 21st century economy. The story is published in the Post’s “Inspired Life” section which means someone thinks governments forcing people to go back to school is an uplifting idea, and not an assault on individual liberty.
Imagine if it weren’t just kids who, by law, had to attend school, but also grandparents. That is a proposal under debate in Nordic countries, where officials are considering a plan that would mandate adult education in later life.
Just imagine it. Grandma getting ordered by the government to learn new skills in support of the motherland.
In the 21st-century economy, few people can get through life on just the education they received when they were young, argues Poul Nielson, the Danish lawmaker who proposed the idea.
“In order to live with the technical changes that go on and on, human beings have to be better educated,” he said. “It’s not enough to simply be satisfied that we have educated people until they grow up and get a job and then leave the rest to the employers and the employees. Too many never really get a second lift in their capacities.”
Anyone who follows Internet culture has seen many Americans—primarily millennials— flirting with so-called democratic socialism, especially during the recent Bernie Sanders hullabaloo. On sites like Reddit or Imgur ,where Bernie Sanders is king, you see arguments and memes painting an idyllic picture of life in Scandinavian countries, many of which are subsequently debunked. The frenetic nature of online culture ensures that for many scatterbrained young people, the statements become fact. The meme below is false, unless the argument is that Finnish doctors are grossly underpaid, but it establishes a starting point for a discussion even if it is invalid.
Bernie Sanders himself has called on America to become even more of a welfare state like Sweden, Denmark, or Norway, and no one can argue that he didn’t have takers. It’s not a stretch to think that such proposals for forced adult education will be made here in the USA. The expansion of mandatory government indoctrination beyond high school is an idea too predictably irresistible not to be floating around leftist think tanks already.
In the United States, with its more diversified and decentralized labor market and a more contentious political process, mandatory education for older adults would be harder to implement and enforce.
Still, Americans would do well to embrace the idea on a broad level, said Paul Irving, chairman of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging and a professor at the University of Southern California-Davis School of Gerontology
“We have college savings accounts to encourage young people and we have a culture that celebrates learning for young people, and I think that kind of culture makes sense throughout life,” he said, adding that along with making people more productive, continuing education helps them remain more engaged with the broader world and therefore healthier.
Learning is certainly something one should do throughout their life. That isn’t the issue. The issue is whether the government should make it mandatory. For the left, everything must either be forbidden or mandatory.