Three Cups of Tea is mountaineer Greg Mortenson's account of creating schools, primarily for girls, in poor, rural regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 1993, after rescuing a companion on K2 and failing his summit attempt as a consequence, Mortenson got lost on his way down the mountain and wound up in a small, Pakistani village nestled in the Karakoram. So grateful for the care he received from these villagers, Mortenson promised to build them a school. Fifteen years later, Mortenson has now built more than fifty schools, and Three Cups of Tea tells the remarkable story.
You’ve heard me talk about the potential of humane education to change the world, to raise a generation of caring problem-solvers who are committed to critical thinking for innovative solutions to challenges. I’ve said it’s the most profoundly important way to create positive change. In Three Cups of Tea we see another example of the power of education. The children who are educated in Mortenson’s schools, and who therefore gain the tools to escape poverty and make healthier choices for their future, are less vulnerable to extremists in Central Asia who would indoctrinate them in madrassas (fundamentalist Muslim schools) and turn them into potential terrorists.
The hardback version of Mortenson’s book was subtitled, “One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations... One School at a Time.” His schools do indeed “fight terrorism.” But Mortenson urged his publisher to change the subtitle when the book came out in paperback. Now it’s “One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time.” And that is indeed what Mortenson is doing.
But whether we call it fighting terrorism or promoting peace; whether we call Humane Education a path toward stopping oppression, exploitation, and destruction or a way toward a peaceful, sustainable, and humane world, we are talking about the same thing in different language, one that is hopeful and positive for sure, but a common vision nonetheless.
Education is the answer. Knowledge, critical and creative thinking, the 3 Rs of reverence, respect, and responsibility, and the tools for creating positive change are the pathways to a just and healthy future.
I highly recommend Three Cups of Tea.
For an educated world,
~ Zoe, IHE President