Sen. Mike Lee promoted improving education at the third annual Utah Solutions Summit on Sept. 1 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena. Former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina joined him as a speaker.
Lee’s remarks stressed the importance of education making a positive impact in the lives of students as a means to prepare them for the workforce.
“Higher education should not be seen as simply a means to an end,” Lee said. “It should be seen as an enriching and ennobling experience.”
To achieve this, Lee suggested applying more hands-on learning aside from textbooks and lectures.
“Preparation typically requires both kinds of learning,” Lee said. “Learning that takes place in the classroom, and learning that takes place on the job.”
Lee said hands-on learning can be valuable as technology continues to develop into the workforce.
“We also can’t ignore the fact that the definition of classroom learning has changed dramatically in recent years, as advances in technology change the way we learn,” Lee said. “The jobs in the fastest growing industries necessarily require advance skills that can be learned through high quality instruction, but ultimately can be mastered through hands-on experience.”
Lee talked about the HERO (Higher Education Reform and Opportunity) Act, which aims to make higher education more affordable for students, and allows them to customize their own educational path. This plan was announced on Jan. 9, 2014 according to Lee’s website.
“Proposals like the HERO act are sometimes described as forms of disruptive innovation, but that misses the point,” Lee said. “The disruption of higher education has already happened. … The HERO act would simply allow states to validate their existence.”
Fiorina, former republican presidential candidate, closed the meeting by encouraging others to seek their full potential, regardless of their circumstances.
“In this unique 21st century, what is the single most important aspect that we have? It’s called human potential,” Fiorina said. “Our objectives need to be to unlocked and unleash as much of our human potential as possible.”
Fiorina said she saw this in the example of women she met in India while on a business trip for Opportunity International, a nonprofit organization that helps small businesses move out of poverty. Fiorina met 10 of her clients in the slums of India.
“I expected to see, in our clients’ eyes, the desperation of the circumstances that I saw around me,” Fiorina said. “But when I sat down with these clients, 10 women, I did not see desperation. I saw focus, determination, pride. I saw hope.”
Fiorina said the potential of these women was not determined by their circumstances, and that everyone has the potential to learn regardless of the situation they were born into. She encouraged others to strive toward their potential by asking for help from others.
“Every time I encountered a problem, there were people who knew how to solve the problem. It’s just that they had never been asked. And so I would solve problems by enlisting other people’s human potential, their brain power, their heart to solving the problem,” Fiorina said. “When you want to build a better life, you don’t need somebody saying to you, ‘You can’t do that, we’ll take care of you.’ What you need is someone to say, ‘Yes, you have human potential. Yes, you have the opportunity to build the life you want. We will give you a helping hand.'”
Fiorina said that people who have experienced the problem — not people above the problem — should have the opportunity to help solve it. This, along with reaching our potential, can bring more solutions to problems.
“As we focus here in Utah on solutions for our community, solutions for our family, solutions for our businesses, solutions for our state, let us remember what works,” Fiorina said. “And what works is … to recognize that everyone has potential far more than they realize, and that power concentrated is power abused.”
Other featured speakers at the event included Gary Herbert, Matthew Holland, Dave Blake and Robert Mendenhall.