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Old March 3rd, 2012, 02:50 PM   #8664 (permalink)
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Default Two More Cents on Education

Everyone here has a great perspective on education today, even the extreme views in the Watering Hole.

My sense is that there are good institutions and less than great institutions, good teachers and bad, good “students” and bad, and as noted some students that aren’t ready to study just yet and some that aren’t cut out for a college path at all. Some that just want to party and some that are on a serious path from early on.

I don’t think it’s fair to put blame ENTIRELY on higher education (some blame, yes). It really comes down to the kid AND PARENTS as much as anything else, starting in kindergarten. Too many parents simply defer to the educational system; some use it as daycare. Without a high level of parental involvement, without a set of performance standards, then the kids will flounder, may not achieve, may not ever be prepared for the competitive world out there. Society, meaning school administrators and parents, HAVE coddled kids a bit too much IMO, especially when EVERYone gets an A or a gold star, when no one comes in second, when no one fails. Maybe that’s fine for pre-school and the first few grades, but can you imagine middle and high school kids who are (mis)led to believe that nothing they do is ever wrong? It creates a sense of entitlement that does a disservice to the children who are not prepared for the real world. I’m not saying tell the kids that they are losers; just tell them that they can be great IF THEY WORK HARD, set some honest/realistic goals and standards at home, and hopefully they will discover a path that is right for them and work hard to achieve their personal goals.

This relates in part to what my kids are doing today. My son graduated from on-line high school and decided not to go to college. You can imagine my disappointment as a person who made it to a J.D. But he already was gainfully employed as a music journalist and DJ (not coincidentally the reverse of “JD” ). He said that college would only distract and delay him from his chosen career path. So we “allowed” him to pursue his dream job and is now, at 18, writing for magazines, producing events and performing on the radio and at the hottest clubs in Hollywood (at least that’s what he tells me ). College would not have served him well, and would never have helped him get a job in this line of work. His elementary and middle schools were very big on the touchy feely, communications and conflict resolution. His “hard” math skills were not great. Forget about memorizing dates. Did he learn how to learn? I have no idea. But he knows how to write and create and communicate with people.

Today, am in NYC with my daughter (16 and loser of the new iPhone, if you recall ) taking a tour of a preeminent dance academy where she was just accepted for the fall. Like her brother, she was driven from an early age and all we could do was support her goals, and occasionally push when pushing was needed (especially on the academic side). Now we are faced with the dilemma of sending her off to school across the country at a very young age. But to refuse to do so means passing on what is the opportunity of a lifetime, offered to only a small handful of dancers each year. She says that she is spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably going. HELP ME, PLEASE! But like her brother, her “hard” skills are also less than perfect. Nonetheless, she has a clear path that she works hard to achieve.

Bottom line, hard skills mean a lot to some and nothing to others. It really comes down to the kid him/herself, their particular bent, and what we infuse as parents. And in the world today, as it “shrinks” thanks to technology and transportation, interpersonal skills become even more important.

So do I send her off?
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