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One of the teachers who influenced me the most was Mr. Harrison, my high school English teacher. He taught me that the purpose of education was not to teach me what to think, but how to think — how to examine and question what I was told; to not merely “know” what I thought, but to understand why I thought or believed as I did; to be be able to support my own views with fact and reason, but willing to listen to another’s arguments, question my own assumptions and discard them if they didn’t stand up under scrutiny.

I haven’t thought of Mr. Harrison for a while. But the recent uproar over President Obama’s speech to school children, brought Mr. Harrison — and something he said to us before we graduated — back to mind.

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