Failures of Public & Higher Education Structures

Are you able to name 5 things taught in school that apply to your life today?

  1. How to read
  2. How to write
  3. Basic mathematical principles
  4. U.S. Constitution & basic rights
  5. ??? Nothing of true importance popped into my head

Are you able to name 5 things you did not learn in school?

  1. Relationship building (marriage, family) & networking
  2. Personal finances (investments, savings, debt, spending, loans, etc.)
  3. Entrepreneurship
  4. Survival skills (food, water, shelter building)
  5. Work ethic (because nothing is free or entitled to you)

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There are plenty more valuable lessons in which the school system may have taught us. I can guarantee there are a plethora of valuable life lessons you did not learn in the public education system, let alone in higher education. The funny story here is how can a guy with a Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees; that works in higher education and is about to try his hand in public education, be so harsh and critical towards the same educational institutions?

Plain and simple, the education institutions did not properly prepare me for life after 18 years of age, 22 years of age and 24 years of age. Before the critics chime in to say it is not the schools job to prepare you for life, please explain to me why children attend public school for 12-15 years (pre-K to 12) for up to 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 36 weeks out of the year. This does not include the push for every to obtain a college degree, which equates to 4 (+) more years of schooling.

The other side of this argument is that it is up to parents to prepare their children for success in life. How can parents who attended the same educational institutions prepare their children for success if they were taught the same things their children are going to learn? Granted this does not hold true for all parents, families and children. Everyone has their own opinion of success, failure…so this argument may or may not make sense to you.

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Jumping back to the original argument at hand is the failure of the public education system. The point of view I am about to discuss may not be readily found in literature and research. Let us take a look into the daily life and structure of public educational settings, with the goal in mind that these students are expected to pass a series of standardized tests. Students are shuffled from one subject to the next for the majority of 7 hours a day. Some classes are 50 minutes in length and some are up to an hour and a half. The typical courses of study are English, science, math and some for of social studies. There are plenty of options for electives, such as IT, Ag and several courses on business acumen. Physical education and athletics may or may not be required, cared for or taken seriously. The students get a lunch break and up until a certain age (high school; maybe junior high) they will get recess as well.

Breaking down the school day even more, we know that the majority of the time students are stuck in a classroom, behind a desk in a calm and structured environment. Are there exceptions? Yes! Majority of the time though, students are in a similar environment to cattle at an auction. There is not much room for creativity, social interaction, freedom of expression and most importantly, evidence of real-world applications. It is understandable that certain information required to succeed in life is best and easily attained in such a setting (writing, math), but one must be apply what he/she has learned in order to truly understand it. Unless the parents are reinforcing it outside of school, I have seen one too many young adults without any sense of direction in terms of real-world application.

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Thankfully, I am blessed to have parents who fostered an environment of real-world application of learning. I was able to learn how to work, communicate and apply some of the principles I learned in school into my daily life. Actually, I was forced to do so in order to learn and succeed on my own. However, there were plenty of life’s most valuable lessons that my parents were unable to teach me. The very same ones that the educational system does not teach as well. The very same lessons that unless sought out on your own, you will never come to know and understand.

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I am going to move on to the things I did not learn in school and I am sure you did not either. In fact, I didn’t learn some of these lessons in college as well. I had to learn them on my own. Most of which I use on a daily basis.

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  • How to network with a purpose – you might have your network of friends from school, but what are they actually doing for you in life or have done? The old saying, “it is not what you know, but who know…or better yet, who knows you,” could not be more true in terms of finding success in life. While it is valuable to be knowledgeable, if you do not know how to network, make friends and acquaintances that help to advance yourself and your skills, you can be stuck with all the knowledge in the world with no where to go.
  • How to manage your own finances and financial statements – Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, said in his book that the education system creates good employees not good employers. Basically, one does not learn how money truly works in the education system. In school, you are taught to try your best, get good grades so you can go to college and get a good job. While I am not against that at all, there is not true financial intelligence to that idea. I certainly never learned how to properly save and spend my money; how different saving accounts work; how debt, credit and loans do not work in your favor; and how to invest money so that my money can make while I am not working. School teaches kids how to maintain an average amount wealth and debt…or to be poor.
  • Survival skills…or at least how to survive without certain technologies – we take for granted that the current set of technologies we have will never be compromised. What happens if the power grids are compromised and shut down for a lengthy time period? Do you know how to survive without any type of power? Remember nothing will work that runs off any sort of electricity. Are you able to forage for food, purify your own drinking water, build a shelter if needed and defend yourself from those trying to inflict harm?
  • Home & Auto repair, maintenance and insurance – thankfully I grew up with the ability to work on an assortment of vehicles (trucks, tractor, ATV’s, small engines) and that we did basic maintenance to the infrastructure we owned. There are still a ton of repair and maintenance skills I do not possess. Insurance, well that is a topic for another very long discussion. I still do not understand the in’s and out’s of insurance, all of which I had to learn on my own.
  • Cooking, nutrition, wellness and agriculture – Yes! There are electives for some of those everyday skills that are taught in school, but it is certainly not a requirement for everyone. We have to eat in order to live. It would be wise to know what healthy nutrition looks life. Total life wellness is vital to a healthy and happy life. All of those might be touched up on in school, but as a professional and practitioner of each the way in which they are taught is a complete joke. I did not learn how to grow and cultivate food in school. The importance of agriculture is never learned.

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The list could on and on about the lessons in life I did not learn in school. I can compose an equally long, if not longer list of things I did learn in school.

  • How many rings Saturn has? I don’t know, but I remember covering that topic
  • The Pythagorean Theorem – I’ve never used it
  • How to differentiate between different dinosaurs –  cool subject, but are they not dead and have been for millions….of years
  • Playing that stupid flute like instrument in middle school – I love music and the appreciation of musicians is high on my recognition list, but that was a complete waste of time and energy.
  • Only reading books you are prescribed to read – we had to learn to read, but I can honestly tell you I only read one book my entire time in school from start to finish. Why? Those books were not interesting and had no impact on real life situations. Today, I love to read books. However, they have to have real impact on my life. Hence why I read Rich Dad Poor Dad, not The Man in the Sea.
  • How to take a standardized test – because I love being the same as everyone else and live up to standards created by people I will never meet. I have my own standards. We all should. Plus, that structure of learning and evaluation is not compatible in real world situations and daily life.

I have spent most of my time on public school education. Let me take a few moments to clear up some college level failures. I’d like to start with this: unless you plan on being a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or teacher (still not sure why its required), higher education is in my opinion a waste of time and money. Once again, depending on major of study, the information in the classroom is not being adequately applied to the real world daily life living.

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Here is a general run down of how the average college lifespan goes. You spend the first two years taking basic courses. Great idea! Let me pay for classes I have been taking for the last 12 years, just make sure I fully understand what is going on (English, History, Art Elective, Math, Science). Unless you are specializing (main point of a degree focus; which by the way is not how it works for most majors), taking repeat classes and paying for them is such a waste of time. I started in college as a business major, but switched to Kinesiology after becoming bored with the business program. It took me two years to finally be able to take classes that actually related to Kinesiology. The same can be said most other majors out there, minus the ones I said are actually worth it.

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As previously mentioned, it would save so much time and money if we just cut the crap and got straight to point. We can turn those 4 and 5 year degrees to 18 to 24 months if done right. Sounds like a great idea to me.

Higher education allows the people to have some choice in what they study. I still think most college degrees are a waste of time and money. Good luck getting a job that pays well enough to pay back those this decade. There is the chatter that more than 50% of college graduates end not working in the field of their study. I still do, but there a ton of people I know who do not. One of the biggest problems I have with higher education is the degree to which the professors are qualified to teach, especially in the business sector. How can you learn about entrepreneurship from a professor who has never owned a business or has and failed miserably? I already think you cannot learn business in formal class setting, but to think that professor teaching you truly does not have professional experience in the subject. It would be wise to ask each professor you come across their credentials in relation to the subject being taught.

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I know my information is bound to my opinion and experiences, but to be honest I have learned more on my own or through mentors outside of school then I did in school. School gave me a start, maybe that is its goal. I picked up and am still continuing today to pick up on information relative to my daily life. The best way in life is to learn by doing. It would hard to change a tire properly for the first time if all you did was read it out of a book and watch a video in class. Not to say it could not be done, but I learned how to do by my dad showing me how to do and then making me doing thereafter. If the goal is to get people started in life in the education system, then maybe we can start learning some of the things we actually use in daily life versus when train A will catch up train B.

I could ramble on about all the useless things we learn in school versus the necessary things we do not learn in school. That would be a never ending debate. To sum up my argument, I’d like to put my main focal point on this: are we teaching children and are we ourselves learning real world application lessons in school? We spend most of our youth in school and come away with what? I had more questions coming out of school than I did while I was in school? I personally have learned more out of school than when I was in school.

If you have a legitimate plan for higher education and it pays dividends, by all means go for it. Do not assume higher education is the way to go for instruction. With social media and IT the way it is, there are plenty of resources and platforms to learn anything in a much more time consuming and cost effective approach.

 

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