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Letter to the editor

Invest in our young

To the editor: As a practicing clinical psychologist long facing the daunting challenges of child abuse in Alaska, it is disheartening to hear of threatened cuts to the university system.

Alaska’s social problems are as unique as our geography and as fascinating as our indigenous people. To meet them we must grow our own work force of inspired and educated liberal artists. But might I suggest that we need not wait until they graduate to take advantage of their energy, faith and the wisdom of their mentors?

I am reminded of the fire science and paramedic programs at UAF: As the students train, they work at the fire station and keep the university safe. Child maltreatment in Alaska is a three-alarm fire. Why cannot departments across the liberal arts board respond to that chronic emergency and not only come up with workable solutions but provide the youthful army of apprentice helpers for immediate implementation? After all, of all crafts, shouldn’t human and social services be a hands-on endeavors and their skills always a work in progress?

The trades have it right: Book learning that is coupled with relevant immediate experience from the start is the most powerful and effective education. I am suggesting a rethinking of the way we create and use human service professionals. Conditional investment in our best and brightest could bring an inspired army of youthful energy to bear on problems that have defeated my generation of would-be do-gooders.


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