Without a doubt the public education system including colleges and universities needs to be updated. However, the constant attack on these valuable institutions is self destructive and unwarranted not only from law makers but also from those in our society that think that it is a waste of time and money to continue the practice at all.
People point to such success stories as Bill Gates, Richard Branson or Tony Robbins as people who didn’t have a university degree and some of these types will tell you it isn’t necessary to have one because you can “get rich” without it.
I believe whatever logic that would support the dismantling of the education system in the United States or anywhere for that matter would be a disaster for the future of our nation.
There are obvious problems with the system no doubt. For one the expenses of a college education for those who pay our of pocket tuition is ridiculous, even when considering the type of job you would get upon completion. There are several things that need to be considered about that problem.
First of all, the teaching profession must be respected and supported by our society. After all, teachers are the hands on guardians of the children for their 12 years of schooling. Do you want underpaid and disgruntled people working with your children? Then it is best to support them and not continually cut their hamstrings every time they turn around. If we are going to outspend the world in Defense, we should even do more in Education.
I would suggest not necessarily retiring teachers after say 30 years, but rather change their roles into a mentoring of young teachers so they don’t have to deal with the energy drain of having so many students but can have a direct impact on them through working with the next generation of teachers.
Secondly, not all children or adults should go to college or university. One of the biggest issues on campuses all over the country is the need to get as many students to pay tuition as possible and retaining those students until they reach their highest diploma. I’m all for equality and giving everyone a chance, but when you mix unqualified students in with qualified students you don’t necessarily raise the unqualified student’s level and you lower the quality you can offer the qualified students.
Of course the desired outcome is that everyone graduate. However it doesn’t make sense to water down the value of a diploma just so as many people as possible can have one. If people pay $40,000 dollars, for instance, for a degree that degree better be worth the money you put into it and not just part of a system of giving diplomas out as if they were bought at Walmart. The standards should be held high.
When you walk out of the university, or high school for that matter, you need to feel like you earned it and are proud of it and it should be respected by others just as highly.
My students ask me why they need to take classes in all this stuff, I know I asked that question when I was in high school many times. Nobody had a real answer for me.
Here is my answer for people now.
Every human on earth is of equal value when they are born. Some are born into prosperity and many more into poverty. But, as a baby, with all the parts attached, everyone is basically created equally.
So, how do we become a valuable member of the human race?
We do it by taking what we were given at birth and farming it. We grow the value of who we are by growing the person we are becoming and there are many different levels of that.
The first duty of every human being is to not be a burden or dependent on others. Independence and self preservation are the primary task of becoming a member of the human race. If all we did was eat, drink and be merry from birth to adult then our bodies grow and our mental capacity increases but if we don’t fill our bodies and minds with skills and knowledge then we are nothing but an empty shell, like a cardboard box with nothing in it.
In the Wizard of Oz it talks about the Scarecrow getting a brain, the Tin Man getting a heart, and the Lion getting courage which is much like what becoming a fully developed human means. Without our insides our outsides are nothing but material.
I tell my class that the reason you listen to great music, read great books, experience the arts in different ways is because it becomes a natural part of who you are as a person and it affects the way you are and becomes evident in the way you speak, write and present yourself. It makes you a person of more value because you are richer with understanding. If an employer just looks at qualifications for a certain job, then any person will do as long as they have those skills, but the deciding factor will often be simply how they see you as a person with many levels of understanding and a higher ability to communicate.
One of the most important skills in today’s society is networking and schools are a networking juggernaut. Only, this is not being taught enough. The people you meet in University are tomorrows leaders and having a good relationship with those people is an important skill to have. Not only could it help you in the future, but you could help others in a meaningful way.
The online method of teaching classes can be effective, but you miss out on the connections you make in classes. I believe this is one area that all classes should become involved in more.
The public school and university system in the United States is vast and covers many areas and in many ways is the envy of the rest of the world’s systems. The fact however is that unless we value and continue the educational institutions over time we will diminish as a nation and our status as a world leading nation will be obliterated and we will literally become a nation of dunces.