Being Thankful

by Watson Scott Swail, CEO, Educational Policy Institute/EPI International

In the United States, Americans will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, which is basically an opportunity to watch football, eat and drink too much, and spend time with relatives that you have desperately tried to avoid for the previous 364 days. Okay, not always true: sometimes you don’t eat too much.

Thanksgiving has traditionally been held as a celebration of a bountiful harvest, and was historically held in early October, just as Canadians currently do. It was only in the 1800s that the fixed date of the final week of November was set by President Lincoln. Now Thanksgiving represents the official start of nocturnal holiday shopping, with Black Friday looming for outlandish sales starting at 4 and 5am.

But today, as I casually drive from DC to Virginia Beach, I am met by the incredibly sad news of 29 miners dead in a New Zealand mine, and I start to wonder what to give thanks for. While I intended to talk about Global Rankings today, I thought I would start a discussion about what we really are thankful for. I’d like your input on our comment page.

For me, I’m obviously thankful for my family and personal things, but considering the “other” things in life, I am most thankful that:

  • we still live in a society that wants the best out of people, not the worst;
  • we still believe that people — all people — can do great things if we give them an opportunity;
  • education professionals around the world work hard to try and make the lives of our youth better every day;
  • the United States has a President that believes education is the pathway to a greater future. President Bush did, too;
  • we are now having a dialogue about educational opportunity in a borderless world;
  • most of us understand that empowering teachers is the answer to better teaching and learning, not putting fear into their lives; carrots are better than sticks — without exception;

and as an aside:

  • Dancing with the Stars is finally over and Bristol Palin can go back to Alaska; one can hope;
  • Canadians are still smart enough to hold Thanksgiving on the “right” dates, and not too close to Christmas.

What are you thankful for? Let us know below.

Have a great Thanksgiving to our US readers. To our Canadian readers, enjoy the Grey Cup this Sunday (sorry in advance to our Roughrider fans; Cavillo rules!). And to the rest of our readers from abroad, change the world. By Monday.


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