If something or some activity is therapeutic it’s generally good for you. From my foxhole, education fits into that definition. You do not have to be on the receiving end of the education for it to be therapeutic for you. You can be the one providing the education. The education provided or received does not have to be from a text book to be good for you.

As schools get ready to start a new year, the issue of education is top of mind for many people. For young students, it might mean the end of summer vacation. For those in higher education, it may mean a chance to renew friendships and preparing for the future. Hopefully for teachers it means it is time to begin the instruction and role-modeling that can affect the future of society.

Formal education is important and key to the success of all society. So is the education that takes place outside of the classroom. If all human beings have minds like sponges, then from my foxhole, it is important that you help determine, as much as you can, those things that soak into the sponge.

Mentoring and tutoring are as important for the development of today’s youth as is formal education and, when you do it, it makes you feel good. Even if you don’t feel inclined to mentor, tutor or counsel a group of youngsters, you may want to participate in this therapeutic activity by simply encouraging a youngster to take advantage of some form of education or training. School from preschool through High school can be free and, given scholarships and special programs, higher learning can be done by scholarship or other means. Even though I definitely wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the box, I received scholarships and government assistance to the point that I never paid a penny for my preschool through law school education.

At a conference I attended recently, a young man who has served time in prison and now speaks to groups of community activists, made it clear that the youth of today will be educated, one way or another. Either by being plugged into their music and on the corner without our guidance and counsel or listening to their music and on the corner with our guidance and counsel. The decision is ours.

If you find yourself saying, “Look at ‘em, they don’t know how to act,” I ask you did you or anyone teach them how to act? I agree, everyone doesn’t have the inclination to provide counsel and mentoring personally. However, everyone can publically insist that the government institutions paid for by our taxes and the organizations to which we give donations do all they are supposed to do to mold the minds of our youth for a better society. And to the young readers, try spending some time relating the good and the bad that has molded your life to date and what you have experienced.

From my foxhole, I guarantee you, that the time you are willing to spend to educate and help direct the behavior and priorities of the youth of today will be therapeutic for them and for you.

Maj Gen US Army (ret) John R. Hawkins III, JD, MPA is President and CEO of Hawkins Solutions Intl., a government relations and lobby company. His last military assignment as a “two star” was Dir., Human Resources Directorate for the Army world-wide and prior to that Deputy Chief Public Affairs for the Army, world-wide.