Our greatest accomplishment

There have never been so many people being educated and graduating

A report by the BBC this week described how three paralysed men who were told they would spend the rest of their lives in a wheelchair were able to walk again after an innovative procedure.

Doctors in Switzerland inserted an electrical device around the men’s spines which boosted signals from their brains to their legs, helping the damaged nerves in the spinal cord to regrow.

Researchers and doctors from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne said this procedure could help many others to regain independent movement. The implant needs to be ‘on’ for the men to walk and the report talks about how they not only restored their movement, but also their hope.

The moon landing is often described as humanity’s greatest accomplishment and in many ways it is true. But such stories from Switzerland make me question it, because in the past hundred years the achievements we have made as humans are sometimes more relevant in sci-fi books than real life.

Our ability to conquer diseases and understand so much more the way the human being works is astounding. With social media and constant news we often get the idea that everything is going wrong in the world.

But in truth, poverty is at an all-time low on a global level and so is crime. Major outbreaks are also low and have been contained. There have never been so many people being educated and graduating.

So, yes, perhaps not everything is as it should be. Inequality is still high. But considering where we were just a few decades ago, progress has been achieved.

A lot of the progress achieved is down to good policies, improved economic outlooks, a decrease in inequality and also scientific achievements.

Especially in stories such as these three brave men, science and reasoned thinking is what has allowed us to grow and prosper as societies.

The principles governing the scientific approach have built a structure which allows the world’s best minds to work together and learn from each other.

In the past, such framework didn’t exist and you’d often have scientific discoveries, or duplicate work and lack of cohesion, simply because of a lack of framework.

I think this was also one of our greatest accomplishments, because it opened the path to progress.

VET Week

It is now standard to think of vocational educational at par with other types of education, but it wasn’t always like this before. The importance of a wider spectrum of opportunities to young people is now being seen as a must, not just in Malta but across the whole world.

Especially in Europe, countries are accelerating their pace to change from a standardised-testing model to one which is more inclusive of the different abilities and qualities of students and focus on a more personalised method of approach.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The curious case of Benjamin Button’ put it nicely: “Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people — dance.” Every individual has different likes and dislikes and we can’t expect everyone to conform to one particular way of learning and assessing.

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